013: How to overcome imposter syndrome – interview with Clare Josa

This week’s guest, Clare Josa, is the UK’s leading authority on Imposter Syndrome, having spent the past fifteen years working with business leaders to help them to overcome it, as well as leading the landmark 2019 Imposter Syndrome Research Study and publishing her new book: Ditching Imposter Syndrome.

An expert in the neuroscience and psychology of performance, her original training as an engineer, specialising in Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing, means her inspirational approach is grounded in practical common sense, creating breakthroughs, not burnout.

She is the author of eight books and has been interviewed by the likes of The Independent, The Daily Telegraph and Radio 4, amongst others. Clare speaks internationally on how to change the world by changing yourself. We talked about…

>> Getting speaking gigs as a coach (even during lockdown)

>> Imposter Syndrome and how to identify it in yourself

>> How to overcome your imposter syndrome

>> When content comes from the heart

>> Creating a movement

Episode Links and Mentions:

Clare’s Book: http://www.ditchingimpostersyndrome.com/book/

Become an imposter syndrome Mentor: https://ditchingimpostersyndrome.com/imposter-syndrome-mentor-training/

Clare’s Speaking Page: http://www.clarejosa.com/book-clare-josa-to-speak/

Clare’s Free Guide: http://www.clarejosa.com/profitable/

Did you Enjoy this Episode?

Subscribe to this Podcast Here

Prefer to Read? Here’s the Transcript:

Clare Josa

Thank you for being with us. Thank you, Stephanie. It’s lovely to spend time with you today. Claire, I know that you have done so much as a coach and you’ve come so far. You’ve got your book, you’ve got your certification program. You do amazing speaking ex now also virtually, and you also have your one-to-one and other programs. So, you know, I’m sure all the coaches and consultants listening are thinking, wow, how did she manage to do all this, but really love to hear more about your journey. Of course. Well, I started off as an engineer, as you do my training, I’ve got a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and German, and I spent 10 years in engineering and specialised in six Sigma and lean manufacturing. After about 10 years, I realized actually I wanted to change a scene. There was a lot of me too in engineering back then being one of just two female engineers on a staff of 200 was quite challenging.

Clare Josa

And I would say realized I wanted to spend more time with people because making people smile was really what floated my boat rather than working with machines. So I went and I became, I went travelling for a year and then came back and I got the job as head of market research at Dyson. So I set up their market research functionality. I’d been running what we called guerilla market research in my engineering job. Because just being able to get engineers to talk directly to customers that gives you so much better feedback than when it’s been through a marketing teams’ filter because they’re all speaking different languages. So at Dyson, my job was to be the interpreter between the design engineers, the marketing team and the end customers. And I loved that. That’s when I qualified as an NLP trainer. So neuro-linguistic programming. After a few years, I realized I could never make a big enough difference in the world by selling somebody else’s bits of plastic.

Clare Josa

So I took the leap back in 2003 and set up my own business in leadership development. The reason I got into imposter syndrome, which is what I’ve spent most of the last 17 years specializing in is I did a lot of executive mentoring work in those days. And my very first client had something that I didn’t know what it was called a syndrome, but it was. And then my next one, my next one, my next one. And I kept working with all these people who to the outside world, they were really confident and successful, but at three o’clock in the morning, their self-talk was driving them crazy. It was holding them back from fulfilling their potential from really enjoying their role. It was making them micromanage. It was making them difficult to work with and people would often be sent to me as a last resort before they were fired. It’s pretty harsh. Actually!

Clare Josa

All they needed was to let go of that in pain because they were projecting that pain and that fear and that worry and anxiety. And they discovered that when you allow them to get deep below the surface and clear out the triggers, they got to be all of who they really were to be an inspirational leader to really make that difference for their team. And that’s what got me specializing in imposter syndrome. Then last year, ditching imposter syndrome, the book came out when I was writing it. I was looking for the latest research. I couldn’t find anything that was much more than either a small study or a telephone pole. And so the UK is first large scale research study into imposter syndrome, which has been so useful. So now we’ve got really clear data on the behaviours, the difference between it and self-doubt, how it gets in people’s way, how managers and leaders can spot somebody who’s got it. And what we can do to really help people set themselves free rather than doing the sticky plaster kind of mindset. I’m going to pretend I’m okay.

Stephanie

Wow. That’s amazing. What an amazing journey. Gosh. And is it the book that then started off your speaking gigs?

Clare Josa

Speaking? No, I’ve been a speaker for many, many years, but then when I had my kids, I had to stop for a while because a huge number of speaking events are in the evenings. And I wanted to be at home to put my kids to bed. It’s one of the reasons I was running my business is I could have that flexibility. So I took a lot of my work online for a few years and I was very fortunate that I was well known as a virtual speaker long before it became the only option chronically over the last year before lockdown. My face-to-face speaking gigs had started ramping back up again and then like so many people in March 2020 in that fateful one week, everything just disappeared.

Clare Josa

And, and we all had it happen. So it was just a pivoting back to the virtual world. I was really lucky. I got to help a lot of teachers to be able to convert their teaching style, to go online because although we all see teachers find it really easy to teach, actually it’s quite scary when you put a camera there and a lot of them were freezing. So I got to London, ran lots of workshops like that. I worked with companies on that and that helped build my reputation as a virtual speaker. Now I’m probably about as busy as a virtual speaker, as I would have been had the face-to-face world continued this year.

Stephanie

Oh, that’s fantastic. That’s good. That’s great. And of course, it’s something that can scale more easily because you don’t have to do all the travelling.

Clare Josa

Exactly, exactly. And it’s interesting because a virtual speaking day, that’s fine. Takes a lot more energy than being on stage when I’m on stage, you feed off the audience. Yeah. And when it’s virtual you have, I find it takes almost twice as much energy. So I’ve actually reduced the number of speaking gigs. I’ll take each month despite not travelling because otherwise, it’s just too exhausting.

Stephanie

I completely get you. I feel very much the same when you go online. You know, if it’s an interview like this, it’s, it’s fun and it feeds you. But when you’re doing a speaking gig. Yeah. It’s like, it’s, you know, it’s like when you’re with real people feed off their energy and you’re so full of energy afterwards that, you know, actually you can go home and do a lot more than usual.

Clare Josa

Exactly. And there’s a lot to be said for that final read-through of what you’re going to present when you’re sitting on the train on the way or plane on the way to an event. And then you decompress on the way home and you let it go. And with the virtual, one of the things I’ve had to work quite hard on is actually having clear boundaries is okay, that event’s now finished. I’m not doing anything else for the rest of the day. And sometimes when somebody is contacting me about a speaking gig, they’re like, but it’s only an hour. And I’m like, no, it’s a lot of work to create a really strong hour of content, particularly virtually why you have to make it higher octane. You know, I’m not quite a children’s TV presenter, but you have to be a lot more bubbly and effervescent and you have to give the energy to the viewers, to the audience, instead of being able to, to share it between you, it’s quite a different skill set.

Stephanie

It’s true. And I have seen your online videos and they’re absolutely amazing. I’d heard people say how good you are, but I actually watched your videos on your speaking page. And I’m like, yes. And you really, really do a great job.

Clare Josa

Thank you, I’m going to say there’s one suggestion. I’d love it. There’s one thing I’ve learned really important over locked down is in the olden days, if, if you’re listening and you want to be a speaker or take your speaking to the next level in the olden days, we had to have a speaker reel, which was quick highlights, 30 seconds here, 30 seconds there a few testimonials from people in the audience on a higher, at the end of the session, it had to be beautifully edited together. We’d love you, background music. People don’t want them anymore. What they now want to see is that you can hold the audience for an entire session. So what I did is my speaker page. There’s a link to it now on every page in my website. Yeah. And it’s an image link at the bottom of every article in the sidebar, on everything in the menu bar at the top and at the bottom.

Clare Josa

And I’ve got two full-length sessions that I’m running. One is a face-to-face session. And one is a virtual session because when they’re going to invest in you, and it’s not just their money, they’re investing, the company’s investing their trust and their personal reputation as a Booker in you. They want to see not just the 30-second highlights of a great during that 30 seconds people, won’t your name, but you should have seen the rest of it. They want you to have the courage to say here’s all of me, including the best way the energy’s dead, including the bits where I couldn’t say reticular activating system without putting my false teeth in. Yeah. They, you want to see that you’re human. And the big thing that I’ve found with virtual speaking is they want that intimacy. They want people to be able to interact. They don’t want you to take what we do on a stage and just put that on a screen.

Clare Josa

They want people to be able to connect with real use. So if you want to do anything on your speaker page, consider getting some stuff that you’ve done where you’ve run an online session or you’ve run even a Facebook live because they want to be able to see in real-time how you do what you do, how you communicate, your message. And that is what I’m getting is feedback is the reason why I’ve been booked. Yeah. So some, a lot of my work comes from referrals. I’ve got a very large conference. I’m keynoting at in November, which came from a Google search.

Stephanie

Fantastic.

Clare Josa

Search to my speaker page. So this stuff works, but it’s really important for us not to get hung up on perfection. You’ve seen Stephanie, you know, the talks on my speaker page. They’re not perfect, but people love them because they’re real. And that’s what people want at the moment. Someone they can connect with.

Stephanie

That’s right. That’s so true. So true. Wow. I can really hear all your experience in there. You really know what really makes a difference. So yes, I definitely encourage you all to go to Clare Josa and have a look at her speaking phage because it’s, it’s, it’s really fantastic. I was like, I don’t know how much time I spent on it when I sent you the message for the podcast. But one other, one of the reasons why I contacted you is because I know that my audience suffers from imposter syndrome. Like I do. Of course, I think we all do at some stage. And so I wanted to, to get your help with trying to identify what imposter syndrome is, because we all, we’ve all heard about it and maybe we suspect we have it, but we’re not quite sure. So how would we go about that?

Clare Josa

Okay. So I’d love to start first by briefly talking about the difference between imposter syndrome, self-doubt because people often get the two of them mixed up. Is that okay? Yes. I say we found in the research study in 2019, that there is a really big difference between self-doubt and imposter syndrome. So self doubt, general confidence when people are doubting themselves, they’re talking about what they can and can’t do when they’re talking about imposter syndrome, it’s about who they really are. That sense of self. So I talk about the imposter syndrome iceberg, which at the surface, we’ve got to our actions and our thoughts, our beliefs what’s important to us. And that sense of identity, the self-confidence and self-doubt are up there at, you know, the beliefs level. I can do this. I can’t do that. Yeah. When you start using, I phrase, who am I to be doing this?

Clare Josa

Who am I to charge that much? Who am I to have that many clients? What if that person realizes I’m not good enough? What if me pitching for this piece of what means they find out I’m a fraud? Anything with I am in is an identity level statement, and that’s where imposter syndrome hangs out. So it’s the secret fear that they’ll find this out, even though we’re out, we’ll be confident. And I often talk to clients about it being the fear of others, judging us the way we’re judging ourselves. That’s the essence of imposter syndrome now. Yeah. I have seen when we look at it, like, I think that it’s important to be looking at yourself. Talk when you’re talking to yourself about something that’s a stretch or something you want to grow into or something you want to achieve, or maybe you’re doing, you’re planning on setting your goals, or you’re taking action towards a goal.

Clare Josa

Is that self talk about what you can and can’t do in which case go and get yourself some training. Yeah. Okay. My presentation skills might need reading. Great. To find a course. You know, I don’t read a book, but if it’s about who you are. Yeah. What if they realize they made a mistake hiring me? What if they realize I’m not who they think I am, then that’s imposter syndrome and you need a different toolset working at the mindset level and that positive thinking level. That’s up there with confidence and self-doubt, right down below the surface, you need to be clearing out the limiting beliefs. You need to get to that identity shift because imposter syndrome in its essence is that ravine, that gap between who you see yourself as being and who you think you need to be to achieve your dreams. And when I work with people on imposter syndrome, normally days we have that gap and we try and build a bridge over the ravine. And the whole time we’re walking over that bridge with our coping strategies and our sticky plasters, we’re looking down going, it’s a very long wait.

Clare Josa

What I do when I work with people, what I teach in the book teaching imposter syndrome is how to close that gap. So there’s a ravine and you don’t need the bridge and you don’t need the sticky plasters because you’ve allowed yourself to become the version of you for whom creating or achieving that is simply what you do. Amazing. That’s what we do.

Stephanie

Of course. So can you help us do that?

Clare Josa

Absolutely. So the first key is to spot the self-talk. Yeah. And it can be hard to spot the self to it because we don’t normally pay attention to our inner critic unless it’s really yelling. One of the ways you can do that is something I call a flinch factor. So the flinch factor is where you’re thinking, okay, I’m going to return that call. Yeah. I’ve just had a journalist message me. I’m going to phone them as they’ve asked and something in your body goes.

Stephanie

Yeah. It’s like,

Clare Josa

There’s a tiny, tiny movement that happens where you kind of look like a hedgehog. Yeah.

Stephanie

That ledge

Clare Josa

The fear is your warning sign. That there’s part of you that feels scared about taking that action. So becoming aware of it can often be enough. It’s simply then uncurling your shoulders, that breathing out, going okay. Is this really a real fair? Yeah. I talk about legitimate fear, legitimate fear and mine story fair. So legitimate fear is when you’re walking along that cliff path and it’s really windy and you’re too close to the edge and your brain and your body is saying, Claire, move mine story fairs. The stories we tell ourselves, it’s the, what if this happens? What if that goes wrong? What if I mess this up? What if they don’t like me? What if I don’t get the gig? The mind story fair is what’s causing us to flinch because usually making a phone call is not going to be a life-threatening situation. So that can’t be a legitimate fear.

Clare Josa

The challenge you have is the body feels every thought you think, and it can’t tell the difference between the legitimate fear and my story fear. So it fires off the whole stress response. We’ve heard of the fight-flight-freeze response. Yeah. It gets the adrenaline and the cortisol running. And it means that when you make that phone call or you pitch to that client, or you run that discovery session, the dialogue that’s running in the back of your head is what if they didn’t like me? What if they realize I’m not good enough? What if I can’t help them? What if I’m not good enough to help them? And suddenly the genius that’s you can’t shine because the fight-flight-freeze response is diverted. The blood flow from the front of your brain has your great ideas to the primal part that only cares about you not being lunch for the sabre tooth tiger.

Clare Josa

And that’s why on the call, your mind can go blank because you’re in the stress zone. You don’t have access to the bit of your brain. That’s brilliant at this stuff. And the stress zone really doesn’t care about posing that question. It just wants to decide whether you’re going to run or whether you’re going to climb a tree or whether you’re going to freeze and hope the tiger can’t see you. So it’s really important to start by becoming aware a lot of the little symptoms we can simply breathe out and let go. Then it’s going below the surface looking at well, okay, what are the habits I’m running here? What are the beliefs that I need to play? There are questions that I ask people when I work with them that help them understand how they’re getting in their own way. And you can actually pinpoint the specific block that’s causing you to subconsciously self-sabotage.

Clare Josa

So that’s the next stage is clearing that out, going below the surface, it’s then looking at the identity level protection where we all, where that, you know, we’ve all had the experience of putting on that invisible armour so that we can feel safe, or maybe we’ve picked up an alter ego. You know, if I’m going to rock the stage, I need to pretend I’m Beyonce. Yeah. If I’m going to make it in this marathon, I’ve got to pretend I’m Joe wax. It’s about letting go of the need for that. So that you feel safe by clearing out the root cause triggers you no longer have to worry about the mindset and the attitude and the beliefs that all falls into place. And then that final stage of closing that gap. So there’s no ravine and no bridge needed is really connecting with who you really are, which is something I call courageous alignment.

Clare Josa

It’s looking at influencing authentically so that you magnetize your dream clients because you’re not wearing your armour. It doesn’t mean you’re being vulnerable to the point of view of hanging up your laundry in public. It’s about I’m me and I’m comfortable in my own skin. And if you want to feel comfortable in your own skin, here’s the process I can help you as on whatever it is that the journey is, you take your clients on. So that’s the process. And Stephanie, we chatted before this session. I’ve got a, a workbook and a short video training that can help you to look at the five key stages of ditching imposter syndrome and put together an action plan. So if you’re listening to this right now and you think, actually I’d love to understand what role imposter syndrome is playing for me and what I can do to start turning that around. That’s yours as my gift and the link I’m sure will be in the show notes. You can find it@claireyoast.com forward slash profitable, but that’s a really useful workbook to go through to help you to do some of the backgrounds, thinking to create your action plan for ditching imposter syndrome.

Stephanie

Oh, that’s great. Thank you so much. Thank you, Claire. And yes, definitely. We will stick that in the show notes, for sure. We’ll also add your book and maybe a little link to your speaker phase. Cause we’re also curious about seeing that now. So

Clare Josa

Thank you. And the speaker page. I’m not holding it up as an example, a perfect speaker page. You know, I still see it speaker pages for some others and I’m like, Oh, that is just gorgeous. But the fact is it’s working. Yeah.

Stephanie

See then that’s what matters because you, a website will be a work in progress.

Clare Josa

So exactly. And as somebody, you know, when we’re in the business of marketing ourselves, when we’re a coach or a consultant or a freelancer, it’s very easy to be a perfectionist, which is one of the signs of impostor syndrome, but a website. It just needs to be good enough that our clients will trust us and take action. And there’s always time to refine it. So having mentioned the perfectionism, it might help to briefly talk about what I call the four PS of imposter syndrome, which is four warning sites came from the research study. So the first one is perfectionism

Stephanie

And you’re not, you’re

Clare Josa

A natural perfectionist. You know, if you look at somebody who’s fingernails and shoes, you can tell if they’re a natural perfectionist or if they’re a behavioural perfectionist, which means it’s a stress response. So the perfectionism is all about splaying, your goals. I’m going to aim so high. And if I achieve it, I’ll write it off as a fluke, but I’m going to set my standards so high, but that almost unachievable and it holds us back from taking action. The second P is procrastination, which I know as business owners, we would laugh. I do. Yeah.

Clare Josa

This is filling our time with busy-ness. Yeah. Having to be seen everywhere and be doing everything rather than taking the inspired actions that create breakthroughs. The third P I call project paralysis. So this is like playing hide and seek with a child where you play hide and seek with a toddler. They’ll often cover their eyes and go, right. You can’t see me. And if you’re kind, you’ll play along and pretend, but it’s like, okay, scary project. I can’t see you. You’re not there. You’re not there at all. I’m not going to have to do. And then the deadline comes and we use the adrenaline that comes from that to push on through. And we may be even pulled out all nights here. The fourth P really big one for small business owners is people-pleasing. And this one it’s late. The equivalent of going up to the sabre tooth tiger and stroking its nose and saying, Hey, little kitty, kitty, please like me.

Clare Josa

This is where we want to feel part of a tribe. This is where we discount without being asked, we don’t charge what our results are worse. We give too much away for free. We don’t have clear boundaries with clients and we end up presenting over-giving. So those four PS, the procrastination, the sorry, the perfectionism, that procrastination, the project paralysis and the people-pleasing. I developed that model and I was working with a client one morning and a one-to-one session. And, you know, we could get those light bulbs, Stephanie, and you’re like, you’re suddenly you have to stop what you’re doing and say, I just need to tell you this. Ms is just looking at me to say, to say, this is only our second session together. And I haven’t yet decided whether or not you’re crazy, but do go ahead.

Clare Josa

I realized that the four P’s perfectly fit this fight flight freeze response from the stress system from the sympathetic nervous system is in flight. I’m going to war with this project. I’m going to set the standards so high that I’m going to have to slay those goals. You’ve then got the procrastination, which is the flight. You are filling your time with everything else. And it’s like, you’re running round in circles trying to escape the project. The freeze response is the project paralysis that rabbit in headlights, the fourth category that psychologists have now God, in the fight-flight-freeze response, which is a learned response rather than an instinctive one, which is called fawning. So a baby deer, it’s the kind of like, please, if I’m nice to you, will you like me? If I give you enough of a discount, will you work with me? So that fits on the people-pleasing. Oh wow. These are, yeah. I love it. When a multiple, when you’ve already got a model and then you suddenly go and slot together. Well, I did come back for another session and say, obviously I wasn’t quite crazy enough.

Clare Josa

He said, this is really useful for us as business owners, both for ourselves and in our work, if you’re a consultant for example, and you’ve got a client who’s not implementing what they’ve agreed, it’s worth looking at the four P’s model to see where it is. They might be stuck. And whether imposter syndrome could actually be getting in the way of them getting the results that you know, in your heart, that it could be getting the same. Obviously, if you’re a coach or a mentor, imposter syndrome requires different tools to most of what’s taught in coaching programs because it goes down to the identity level rather than just being a kind of a goals type coaching. So it’s worth having on your radar, the perfectionism procrastination project paralysis, and the people-pleasing for yourself. And for those that you’re working with to see whether they might be early warning signs of impostor syndrome, getting in the way

Stephanie

That’s amazing. And of course, you have a solution for that, right? You have.

Clare Josa

Yeah. Yeah. It’s all in the Burke. It’s all in the imposter syndrome. Step by step to do it for yourself. I have an online program for people who prefer to actually have videos talking you through, but that also comes with support. So you get Claire time to help you through as well. And for, for experienced coaches and mentors, I have a full certified training program that counts as CPD as a post-graduate coaching and mentoring qualification. Do you become a certified imposter syndrome mentor? So you can actually go and market yourself to wherever you get your clients and build the reputation for having the skills that allow you to work at that deeper level, creating those breakthroughs in as little as three or four sessions. That’s, that’s

Stephanie :

Amazing. We’re all on board. We’re all on board with it. Thank you so much, clay. It has been such an insightful episode. I am going to fill the show notes with so many links this time around.

Stephanie

I would like to remind you that you can find claire@clairehosa.com and you can go to the website www.stephaniefiteni.com where you can find the podcast and you can find all the links to the show notes. Thank you, Claire, for being with us. Thank you so much.

Clare Josa :

Thank you so much for having me, Stephanie I’ve really, really loved talking to you. And for listening at home, I hope you found this useful above all. If you found yourself nodding, but taking on the four P’s, you are not alone. Okay. When they did the research study last year, I discovered that the level of imposter syndrome in the general public. So this is on a daily or regular basis in the last year was 52% for women and 49% for men unless they were running their own business. In which case it was 82%. Oh wow. You are not alone. There is nothing wrong with you. There’s nothing to fix, but we can play this out. Yeah. My big message you running a business is so gets feeling this there and pushing on through it is clear and do it anyway and watch the difference you get in results.

Stephanie

Oh, wow. That’s amazing. Well, we’re definitely going to do that. I have one last question actually for you, Claire, as you know our podcast is about content and of course, about a million other things because we are so much more than the content we create. But since you are, of course, a business owner and you create lots of contents yourself. Is there a piece of content that you’ve ever created that, you know, like did better than everything else? Was there? Just anything, social posts, a blog post, something you’ve done online that has been really good for your business.

Clare Josa

Yeah. I find if I create content with my left brain, I get good engagement when I create it from my heart. You know, when you get that feeling of I have to do this right now, that content always outperforms. I had a lovely example of it this week on LinkedIn on something that’s gone semi-viral on, hang on. Why are people going back to the office? And we’re asking ourselves the wrong question. We’re talking about, how is that of why that came from my heart? And it almost wrote itself. And I found that what makes the biggest difference is when that piece of content is about creating a movement about bringing people together for common. Cause that content always outperforms any tips, strategies, logic, and the more I write or create

Stephanie

Or do videos or podcasts when I feel inspired rather than when I think I have to the page with the content goes, Oh, absolutely. Great tip. Great tip Claire. Thank you so much. I’m sure that everyone can relate to this because we’ve all done it. Yeah. Excellent. So thank you so much for being with us and I’m pretty sure that by grade, everyone’s going to have a go at trying to get rid of their imposter syndrome. Thanks to all these wonderful resources you’ve shared with us. Thank you so much. Thank you, Stephanie.

Add A Comment