Navigating the murky waters of imposter syndrome

I’ve made it to the Bassmaster Elite Series, clinched a Bassmaster Open victory and am now fishing full-time with incredible sponsors. It’s truly amazing, and from an outsider’s perspective, I’ve “made it.” Everything I ever dreamed of is unfolding before me.

People probably assume I know exactly what I’m doing all the time. However, behind the scenes, even the most accomplished anglers can find themselves grappling with the silent adversary of imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is the feeling of self-doubt and inadequacy despite evidence of success.

This isn’t me saying I’m not confident in what I am doing. I would be lying if I told you that I’m not confident on and off the water. However, that doesn’t change the overwhelming speed at which my career took off over the past two years, and speed is daunting.

Part of this is the nature of our sport. Bassmaster provides such a unique opportunity for dreams to become a reality, and it truly can happen in a short amount of time.

I am writing this because I am not afraid to tell people that this industry is daunting in some respects. On and off the water, the industry is grueling and unforgiving. People need to understand that these feelings of uncertainty are common, even among the most accomplished anglers in the world. I’m certain there were moments of confusion for many of the best to ever pick up a rod that led to the same uncertainties I am feeling at times.

Although I may have moments of imposter syndrome, I know how to overcome this feeling. Learning and listening to people that have more experience than I do. One thing I have seen often throughout my 10 years or so of tournament fishing is people struggle to listen.

I believe anglers struggle to succeed often due to a lack of knowledge. They don’t know what they don’t know. That is the most dangerous problem to have because it eventually can lead to thinking you know everything. Most of the time, that is solved by asking questions to individuals who simply know more than you do, and of course listening.

For example, I had the pleasure of spending some time with many influential individuals in the industry at the NPAA conference recently. I asked questions and listened 90% of the time.

Every conversation I have, no matter who it’s with, I take in as much information as possible. Therefore, I become more certain that I am on the right path or realize I need to make an adjustment to succeed.