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Hello Rebooters! This week we’re tackling a subject we’ve been saying we’d like to for most of the life of the podcast – Imposter Syndrome – and we asked the wonderful Kate Atkin to join us!

Kate is an expert on the imposter phenomenon (more about that wording later) and she helps confidence to soar. Over her career, she’s worked on her own mindset and confidence, and while public speaking, she discovered the difference between normal self-doubt and imposter self-doubt – which she describes as the “missing piece of the confidence jigsaw”.

What we talk about

Letting the imposter out for the first time and how it resonates with so many people. Sarah’s face at the concept of public speaking (!). How talking about it brings authenticity, and realising that other people experience it and recognise it.

The difference between imposter syndrome and imposter phenomenon, and why imposter phenomenon shouldn’t really be referred to as a syndrome.

Kate Atkin – photo credit Helena G Anderson

Reasons for experiencing it, and the very real difference between self-doubt and imposter doubt – self-doubt is normal if you don’t have evidence and experience of what you’re doing. Imposter doubt sneaks in and makes itself felt after you have plenty of evidence that you do, in fact, know how to do this thing.

Putting our successes down to something external (thinking people are just being kind, or nice), and not internalising our abilities and how good we are.

Reasoning our way out of something if it doesn’t fit with the world view we already have. If you’ve outgrown your expectations and done more than you ever believed you could, imposter chatter (we love this description of it!) can increase.

So many revelations about the things we put down to luck and hard work, but success also takes knowledge and ability!

The things we expect to have an impact on us, conditioning and narratives we carry about ourselves, which we don’t even really know, and how idle comments from others can cut really deeply when they hit on these narratives.

Accidentally making it worse by telling someone they’re amazing with no qualification or explanation – this blew our minds because it can add pressure rather than relieve it.

Starting to overcome it

First recognising it for what it is – an internal sense of fraudulence, it is chatter, and it’s not reality – you’re not an imposter. Collecting evidence – and believing it. Looking for the threads in those testimonials and that evidence to show us the truth.

Glossophobia – the fear of public speaking (and how excited we both were to learn a new word!). The flip – a simple way to make it less terrifying.

Childhood messages – be modest, don’t show off, children should be seen and not heard – and how this feeds into a fear of being judged or disliked by others.

We talk about whether it ever goes away, and bringing our previous selves to a new situation.

And advice we really loved, which is to accept yourself as you really are now, rather than spending time on comparisons with others.

Perfectionism, and the desire to be perfect as a hallmark of imposter chatter, and how this can also link back to childhood.

80% is enough (eeep!)

Getting to market before it’s perfect, so you don’t hold yourself back waiting for the mythical perfect. The concept of the first draft, to help that in your brain.

Learning when something is finished, when to walk away and stop fiddling with it!

Language around our work, our drafts, and our finished pieces, and a comparison to the toiles made by dress designers, so that the final piece fits in an almost magical way.

And finally, Kate’s advice for you:

On comparisons – stop comparing yourself to others, and start comparing yourself to yourself. What have you learned, how far have you come in the last six months, year, three years? Recognise the learning that’s part of our development, and keep records if it helps with that comparison.

Being as kind and compassionate and forgiving to ourselves as we are to other people. Charlie Mackesy‘s The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse encompasses this really well.

Using “yes, and”, instead of “yes, but” when talking about our work and successes, and keeping positive feedback to remind yourself of your own abilities.

Links we mentioned

Here’s Kate’s fundraising page for Anxiety UK. Carla’s also a member and it’s a wonderful charity.

Find Kate at her website, and on Twitter @kateatkin.