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Podcast Transcript

We Dont Talk About Imposters

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  0:10  
Welcome to "Your Authentic Path to Powerful Leadership" with Marsha Clark. Join us on this journey where we're uncovering what it takes to be a powerful woman leader. Well, Marsha, we are back with the second episode of our three part series focused on Imposter Phenomenon.

Marsha Clark  0:30  
Yes, we are.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  0:31  
Yes. And I love the title of today's episode, which is "We Don't Talk About Imposters". Now, is this a subtle reference to that song from Encanto, "We Don't Talk About Bruno"?

Marsha Clark  0:44  
"We don't talk about Bruno" yes, yes, yes. Yes, my grandchildren have, I have heard this song many times. So it's a good catch. And I'm thinking it's probably not so subtle for some of our listeners out there. And you know, since Tracie Shipman is our guest again today, and she writes our episodes, I'm guessing she's gonna be able to explain the reference to that popular song from the movie as we dig a little deeper into this topic of the imposter phenomenon. And today, we're specifically going to explore a few of the typical challenges that people experience when they suffer from IP. So let's dive in.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  1:24  
Absolutely. Well, Tracie, welcome back! And help us out with today's title. If you would like to sing again that would be optional.

Marsha Clark  1:33  
She's got a better voice than I do.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  1:35  
So what does the song about Bruno have to do with impostor syndrome?

Tracie Shipman  1:40  
Thank you guys for inviting me back. So actually, yes, there are a couple things I'm playing off with the title. And so before I say anything, I want to warn our listeners if you have not seen Encanto and you do plan on watching it, pause the podcast, go watch it because it's not like this is going to be some in depth analysis of it. But we do have a tiny spoiler, so I don't want to ruin anything for anybody. So about to connect, pause, right pause, now now come back. So about the connection, in the Disney movie, Encanto,  one of the magical siblings is Bruno. Bruno has basically been banished from the family because his magical abilities, which virtually everyone else in the family has, his abilities are not accepted. And the family believes that Bruno's abilities to predict the future have done nothing but brought tragedy and heartache to them. So he disappears and becomes this undiscussable family member. Hence the very popular and catchy song that Marsha previewed for us earlier, "We don't talk about Bruno, no, no, no."

Marsha Clark  2:46  
No, no, no.

Tracie Shipman  2:47  
Very catchy. And so similar to the imposter phenomenon, when someone is suffering from it, it's typically an undiscussable. The last thing someone with IP wants is for anyone to know that they're a fraud. And so we don't talk about imposters, because we might be discovered if we talk about it.

Marsha Clark  3:07  
And there is the parallel. Yes. And for those who have seen the movie, they might also see the connection between Bruno's banishment and belief that he actually created all of these bad situations that happened to the family, when in reality, none of that was true. And that was our small spoiler. But Bruno basically denied his power by buying into this false story that he was the root of the family's distress.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  3:35  
Wow. So I can see the connections for sure, especially since our focus today is on how people with high impostor thoughts and feelings can really shut themselves off from any joy or satisfaction with some of their limiting beliefs.

Tracie Shipman  3:50  
Oh, yeah, so Bruno, and really the rest of the family, had this really distorted view of who he was and what his true value was to the family, which is really similar to what people with high IP go through. Except with IP it's not family, friends or colleagues who have the distorted view, it's the individual themselves who have that distorted view.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  4:11  
So Marsha said we're going to explore the specific challenges people who experience, sorry, people who suffer from impostor syndrome experience. So what are you going to focus on today?

Tracie Shipman  4:26  
So we covered a lot of ground in last week's episode with the imposter cycle and the test. And both of those tools can really help someone identify just how intense or pervasive their impostor feelings are. And what Dr. Clance also provides in her book are some additional behaviors and tendencies over time that signal that the imposter phenomenon is in play. And so the three that we're going to focus on today are discounting praise, fearing failure, and surprisingly enough, fearing success.

Marsha Clark  4:59  
And I want to share with our listeners that Dr. Clance's book, which was originally published in the mid 80's, is titled "The Imposter Phenomenon", and the subtitle "Overcoming the Fear That Haunts Your Success". And she shares a lot of her research and findings in the book. And it includes the imposter cycle that we talked about last time, her test, which we also talked about, and quite a few case studies of people who have exhibited this high imposter phenomenon. So Tracie, I know when you present this information in our workshops, you spend quite a bit of time on the topic of discounting praise, and it always seems to connect with a lot of the women who also have some strong IP tendencies.. So I'd love for you to explain to our listeners what this behavior looks like.

Tracie Shipman  5:46  
Oh, sure. So just in case somebody is listening today who didn't hear the last episode, people who struggle with impostor phenomenon are by definition, high achievers. So it's very likely that they do receive lots of positive feedback and praise for their work and their results. The problem is, and I, again, speak from very personal experience on this, for people with those high intense IP feelings, praise is a problem.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  6:14  
Wasn't there a story about how some of the women in one of the Power of Self classes kept trying to tell someone how awesome she was, and it was just backfiring?

Marsha Clark  6:27  
Yeah, it happened in nearly every session, not just one or two. It's really, really hard for some people to wrap their heads around the idea that these high achieving rockstars that they're sitting next to, that they're almost in awe of, are actually and honestly, actually and honestly, struggling internally with seeing themselves as rockstars. And we would literally have women get right up in the faces of other women who had these high IP scores, and they would get really animated about it all, like, "Oh, you are awesome and you just need to accept that" and, sort of this "snap out of it" you know, kind of intervention. And I just want to also add, if this gives some frame of reference to this, that the person who brought IP back to the forefront was Oprah Winfrey, who suffers from IP. I mean, think about that, Tracie. I mean, remember when that kind of started bringing it back to the forefront as she started to write about it and talk about it, and people were like, but Oprah? I mean, she's got everything. She's a gazillionaire. She's one of the richest women, I mean, all these success factors. And yet, there she was.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  7:38  
So I'm guessing that that "snap out of it" kind of intervention never worked.

Marsha Clark  7:42  

Tracie Shipman  7:43  
No it doesn't. Right, and at least not that I ever saw. Having someone tell me over and over and over that they think I'm all that and a bag of chips, right? Good old phrase. That doesn't make me feel good. And it adds pressure, and I usually end up feeling worse. So having somebody in my face telling me that I'm awesome isn't awesome at all.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  8:04  
Why does this happen? Why can't some people with high IP accept praise?

Tracie Shipman  8:10  
So Dr. Clance offers a few explanations for how this reluctance toward or this discounting of praise gets started.

Marsha Clark  8:19  
And Tracie, I think she really shows that most of it goes all the way back and really starts in childhood.

Tracie Shipman  8:23  
Oh, yeah. From very early life experiences for most people, this distrust of praise can often be traced back to what I would call well meaning adults, right, adults who unintentionally created some really unhealthy connections between praise and reality.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  8:42  
So what's an example of that?

Tracie Shipman  8:45  
Well, so there's really kind of two ends of a spectrum of these well-meaning adults. So the one end has adults who were overly enthusiastic with their encouragement, right. They elevated every little achievement. And on the other end of the spectrum you had adults who were miserly, rarely offered any praise at all. So let's take a child then who's surrounded by this uber-supportive group of adults, and every time (and I'll use 'she" just, you know, for sake of ease here), every time she turns around, some grown up is gushing over every paper she wrote, every drawing she drew, every song she sang. And then over time, this high achieving child starts to recognize that not every drawing, or every cartwheel was amazing, or the best ever. And so this awareness of reality versus praise makes her start to distrust praise because she can see with their own eyes or hear with their own ears that she's not the best. And she may not even be that good compared to maybe other students or people around her. So she's learned early on, that when people praised her, it wasn't always true.

Marsha Clark  9:59  
And the recognition that not all the praise can be true or trusted has this hugely powerful overriding mechanism for people with high IP. And it sets them up for a lot of 'all or nothing' kind of thinking. I think that's right, is it?

Tracie Shipman  10:16  
Yeah. Yeah. I hadn't thought of it that way. But you're right, it really does. And that's probably why a few of the techniques that we'll talk about next week in the third episode are designed to really tackle that kind of all or nothing thinking.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  10:30  
So Marsha, in your book, "Embracing Your Power", I remember reading something about how people with high IP don't trust positive feedback, but they believe the feedback when it's negative.

Tracie Shipman  10:43  
Yes, you're right. Well, there's a lot to unpack there. But yeah, in many ways, that is the case. So it's really more about does that external feedback match the person's internal reality. And so one quick, very recent example of this is that I sang a song to kick off an event a couple of weeks ago. And I sang it with, you know, lots of power and emotion. And I was in tune and right, all the things that technically make a song enjoyable. But I stumbled over the lyrics in one of the lines, like, just like two little words that I kind of mumbled through. And no matter what anyone in that room, and in fact, someone I just heard from last week, someone came back and said, Oh, my gosh, you sang and I heard it, it was awesome. And we were all amazed. And no matter what anybody says to me about the performance, if anybody tries to pay me a compliment, it is 1,000% dismissed because in my reality, I know I screwed up, I missed the mark. And for me, it was sort of that you know, you had one job. That's the one thing they brought me in there to do was sing this one song and guess what, I didn't do it. And so I get zero credit for that. Zero. So nevermind that there's like 200 people in this room who would not or could not do what I did, that doesn't matter.

Marsha Clark  11:58  
And Tracie, how much of this is also related to the tendency to be a perfectionist, and, you know, we talked a bit about that last time. And how does that impact people with high IP?

Tracie Shipman  12:10  
I think it's completely connected. And, and when we talk about the fear of failure next, we can dig a little deeper into that. But before we go there, I want to, you know, put a bow on this idea of dismissing praise. And and part of that, and I don't know, I'll call it this dysfunctional relationship with praise. But it's as much as you might want to offer me positive feedback, I have this built-in internal dialogue that starts with these two words, "if only" and so in fact, let's give them a demonstration. So Marsha, give me a piece of positive feedback. And I promise I'm not fishing. (Right). Give me a bit of positive feedback or a compliment about something.

Marsha Clark  12:53  
Tracie, I think you did a tremendous job last week on the podcast with the imposter cycle.

Tracie Shipman  12:58  
I'm sorry, say that again so I don't snore.

Marsha Clark  13:02  
Tracie, I think you did a tremendous job last week on the podcast with the imposter cycle.

Tracie Shipman  13:08  
Yes, that's a perfect example. So I likely have any one of the following "if only" thoughts like churning through my brain that completely dismiss that feedback. So the first one is, well, if only you knew how easy it was for me. I mean, I don't deserve that compliment because talking about IP is a breeze for me. That's, if you drill that down, I don't deserve praise for doing something that's easy for me.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  13:31  
Okay, yikes. Wow. So, Tracie, you can't accept a compliment for a natural talent or something that you've studied hard to excel in?

Tracie Shipman  13:42  
Yeah, technically, technically, I can accept it. I mean, I have learned to be gracious. And so the difference is I don't internalize it, right? Again, it doesn't stick to me and it doesn't influence or change my story about myself.

Marsha Clark  13:55  
So what happens if it wasn't easy for you? What if it was a really hard test? Does that allow you to accept the compliment?

Tracie Shipman  14:04  
Oh, no, I've got one for that, too. Alright, so you complimented me on you know what a great job I did last week. And my other first thought could have been well, if only you knew how hard that was for me. I mean, it actually took me six hours to write that episode on something I've been teaching and living for 20 years. It should have been a breeze for me.

Marsha Clark  14:21  
Oh, shoulding on yourself.

Tracie Shipman  14:22  
So you drill down. I don't deserve praise for something that should have been easy for me to do. (Gosh!)

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  14:29  
Yes. Shoulding.

Marsha Clark  14:29  
You know, and I'm really picking up on the "if only".  You have an  "if only" for everything!

Tracie Shipman  14:37  
I kind of do, I kind of do. So another if only that's a repeat offender in my brain is it's related to the peripheral errors, right, that we talked about in the last episode. Okay, so you give me a compliment on last week's episode, and I agree. Yeah, the episode went well, but I also know that because I spent so much time writing that I dropped the ball on a couple other projects. We're going to ignore the fact that I have a beautifully organized paperclip cup, but I also dropped the ball...

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  15:08  
Everyone, you have to listen to last week's episode if you have not! (Yes)

Tracie Shipman  15:13  
So besides that in my brain, right, it's like, well, yeah, the episode went well. But if only you knew how much else I didn't get done on this new class that I'm supposed to be...then when you drill down on that, I don't deserve that compliment because I didn't do everything.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  15:28  
Yeah, Tracie, you really do have an "if only" for everything.

Marsha Clark  15:33  
And it's back to the all or nothing thinking again.

Tracie Shipman  15:37  
Yeah, yeah, I know it sounds exhausting, Wendi. But you know, if it makes you feel any better, I really don't even realize I'm doing it. It's automatic thinking. And it's one of, it is one of my highest IP scores that I am continually working to improve. And so at the risk of sending Wendi over the edge, I do have one more.

Marsha Clark  15:58  
Is this one the singing example?

Tracie Shipman  16:00  
Yeah, well, so yeah. So this, now this isn't the one where I screwed up the words. This is another one. But it is my favorite. So okay, for our listeners, this particular situation I was actually teaching this class in a program and one of the participants was someone who knows me very well. And she had heard me sing a number of times in Frisco where we both live and I don't even remember the reason, now the context. But in the middle of this session, she mentioned to everyone what a good singer I am. And then on the outside, of course, I'm gracious. And I'm like, Oh, thank you, right. But on the inside, I immediately discounted her compliment because I knew she really didn't have any expertise evaluating singing. So my brain basically said, "Well you know, if only you were Simon Cowell then you could give me a compliment."

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  16:47  
You didn't really think that?

Tracie Shipman  16:49  
I did! I honestly did.

Marsha Clark  16:50  
Yeah, she said it out loud. I mean, and I remember it was you singing the national anthem for the opening of the City of Frisco new City Hall. Yeah, probably. Yeah, I think it was.

Tracie Shipman  17:02  
And so I mean, as as soon as I thought that, I knew immediately what I had just done. I had discounted her compliment based on her lack of expertise, which is really ironically egotistical, if you think about it. But I can't accept your compliment because you're not qualified to compliment me. Yeah.

Marsha Clark  17:22  
And Simon Cowell had this horrible reputation about being so harsh.

Tracie Shipman  17:26  
He's an expert. He was not.

Marsha Clark  17:29  
Well, I get it. And so now we get isn't that related somehow to the idea that, that some people with high IP also grew up on the other end of that spectrum was super critical adults, that the opposite to the overpraising parent. And I think you've even described that before, as if mama didn't say it, it can't be true.

Tracie Shipman  17:49  
It is the other extreme and I think they're related in the sense that at the other end of the scale is where the child does grow up with hardly any praise at all from adults who are influential in their world. So it's parents, teachers, an older sibling, whoever that is that they look up to. And they've become the authority in that child's mind. (Right) And so that authority figure sometimes becomes the only one who's praise matters or counts. And then the fact that they are so miserly with their compliments made the few that they might have made, they kind of when they squeaked out, they became more precious, right? So then praise from anyone else was less than. It didn't, it didn't measure up, it wasn't the same unless it came from Mama or that favorite teacher or Simon Cowell. You know, it just didn't matter and it was registered as irrelevant - well meaning, but irrelevant, so it didn't stick.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  18:44  
When we started this episode, you mentioned two other tendencies people with high IP often exhibit. One of them was fear of failure. And that one seems pretty obvious, to be honest, but I'm not sure I know anyone who enjoys failing.

Marsha Clark  19:01  
Well, and Wendi, I want to say here that the difference with the imposter phenomena is that there is an intense or heightened fear of failing. So it's like fear of failing on steroids, so more than just trying to avoid mistakes but an extreme effort to prevent them at all cost.

Tracie Shipman  19:20  
Yeah, I think it's the prevent them at all costs. You're right, Marsha. It's, it might feel like a simplified example, but I do hear it over and over with participants and coaching clients who have high IP. They were the students in school who only took classes they were confident they could get the A in and the thought of getting a B in a class was devastating. Devastating. So their whole self schema, their story about themselves, was tied up in being the best of the best. So then you fast forward to adulthood and in the work environment, and these Straight A only students are employees who work all hours of the night perfecting PowerPoints. You know, they are double, triple, quadruple checking the spreadsheets and the handout because there can be zero errors because an error equals failure in their life. So if my boss or my client or fill in the blank, right, whoever's important to me sees that mistake, that might make them question or doubt my abilities. And if they aren't 100% confident in me, then I'm a failure.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  20:24  
Goodness, this is just more exhaustion. Is this state sustainable?

Tracie Shipman  20:28  
Well, I mean, I did it for 40 years before I knew anything about it. I guess so. I mean, it was my, it was my MO, right, my modus operandi for at least those, you know, 35 of my 40 years at that point. And, and then when I learned about, just because I learned about IP at 40, didn't mean that the tendency and that fear of failure went away like magic. I mean, I do still struggle with this.

Marsha Clark  20:52  
Well, and I just want to say I see it in coaching clients frequently, and it could come in form of not, you know, applying for a promotional role because they're afraid they're going to be a failure if they get to that next level, or even leaving something that I know and taking an opportunity at another company, even though I may be miserable here. It's like, I know this, right? I mean, it's a part of the process.

Tracie Shipman  21:15  
Right. I've got that IP cycle down in this world, then yes, you know, it's really going to kick into high gear if I go into this other role. And so for many people, this is their normal, we said it in the last episode, it's the water they've been swimming in their entire lives. So for them, they don't really even seem, it doesn't seem exhausting to them because it is their operating system.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  21:38  
Yep, this is all reminding me of some of something in this chapter from "Embracing Your Power" that really stood out to me and Marsha, we have the quote here. Will you read that?

Marsha Clark  21:49  
Sure. Sure. "High achieving women with IP have developed keen, Ninja like senses to sniff out the parts of projects that have disaster written all over them. This highly tuned radar usually "helps" them (helps in quotes), avoid obvious pitfalls. Then to ensure they maintain their record of zero failures, they over prepare, overwork and over deliver. (And we wonder why we're exhausted.) If upon initial inspection they don't believe they can meet their own extraordinary expectations on a project or promotion or opportunity, they will seek a way to avoid it, either through procrastination, (which we've already explored in our previous episode) or by stepping back from the opportunity altogether." So you know, it reinforces one of Dr. Clance's original teaching points that people with high IP will go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that there are zero defects. So, you know, obviously, the impact that that has on an individual is a high price to pay. And again, without even recognizing it, Tracie, when you say 35 years, and I didn't know that I thought this was the way life worked, right? You know, and I think that same paragraph in the book mentions how it really sucks the joy out of work for the individuals and, you know, the number of hours, the lack of work life balance, the lack of self care, mental exhaustion, and so on. And it's an equally high price for any organization they're a part of because really, people with high IP often hold back and don't step fully into their power for that fear of failure. Then, of course, the team in the organization never really get the benefit of them shining as brightly as they might or they could at that highest level possible. And then there's the individual cost as well as the societal cost. When people suffer from this, who knows how many incredible leaders we could have if these bright high achievers could move past these limiting IP beliefs and attendant behaviors.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  23:56  
Staggering, staggering thought there. So I understand the fear of failure being a very real concern for people with high IP. You also said there's this fear of success. What's that about?

Tracie Shipman  24:10  
I will say the first time I heard Dr. Clance say this in that first class, I just assumed I misheard her.

Marsha Clark  24:17  
Of course, you did!

Tracie Shipman  24:17  
Must be wrong. So of course, yeah, it must be wrong. So once I really dug into it, it started to make perfect sense because this fear of success, really, usually centered around kind of a couple of key factors. And the first is a concern that I can't replicate the previous success. So rather than believing that the adage of success breeds success, for the person with high IP, it's really success breeds higher expectations which were already blown out of proportion in their mind.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  24:49  
Especially if they're a part of that perfectionist mentality.

Tracie Shipman  24:53  
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. So I mean, whether the expectations really are higher which would make sense if I'm about to take on even more responsibility or higher visibility or whatever, or the expectations are purely internal and I'm just putting more pressure on myself. Part of the fear of success is about amping up already high expectations.

Marsha Clark  25:16  
So, so Tracie, you said the first aspect has to do with success breeds expectations. And you made me think that the second one has to do with success also breeds contempt.

Tracie Shipman  25:27  
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think that's what's behind it, exactly. I mean, I think I need to add that to future programs.

Marsha Clark  25:35  
Well, you know, I see it in participants and again, clients, and it has to do, I think about it almost as a primitive fear of being separated out or even ostracized by, you know, like your tribe.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  25:48  
Yeah. Kind of that "Who does she think she is to be so successful?"

Marsha Clark  25:52  
Well, too big for your britches, right? You know, so we already know that for women especially, we're driven to equalize the playing field, right, that whole power dead even game with others so that we don't stand out and draw too much attention to ourselves individually. And so individual success and the attention that it attracts can threaten that harmonic collaborative drive, and it can breed contempt.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  26:18  
Yep, makes sense. If the inclusion into an important group is threatened by my individual success, then I would want to downplay that.

Tracie Shipman  26:28  
Oh, my gosh, she, absolutely spot on. I mean, so this downplaying success is a part of it. And Marsha, to your point, it's also about just even avoiding that situation altogether. I never have to have that uncomfortable conversation around the holiday table with dad about how I've reached a level of success even higher than he ever did if I never actually step into my full potential. I mean, as long as I stay in my place and remain, you know, less than whoever is supposed to be in that number one spot, then I'm safe and my place is secure in that system.

Marsha Clark  27:03  
Yes. And avoiding separation is an incredibly strong driver that keeps people from stepping into their power. And I mean, with the book, "Embracing Your Power", it's all about stepping into your power. So this is, this is a really important point.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  27:19  
I know, we're going to focus the third episode in this little mini series on hints for how to manage imposter phenomenon. But can we at least offer some tips for our listeners today who are dealing with this either in themselves or someone they lead or love?

Tracie Shipman  27:37  
Oh, absolutely, yes. So if we focus on this idea of failure, and we do say this in the book, but I think it's definitely worth repeating. First of all, name your fear and test it against reality. Are you a fraud? Really, I mean, it's highly unlikely. So that's one of the things just looking at the fear of failure itself. So if you look at the data around you objectively, you're probably going to see that you really do have that expertise that everybody is seeking you out for. And then even if or actually, just when you aren't perfect and you make a mistake, your very satisfied boss or customer or colleagues are one, probably not even going to notice it or two, they'll assess it against the body of amazing work you've produced and overall, you know, you're still going to come out on top.

Marsha Clark  28:32  
Well, and I think about it, it's a mindset. So your testing assumptions is a step toward dealing with the fear of failure. And one of my favorite recommendations you usually offer is to learn a new skill that will help you actually get more comfortable at making mistakes. So basically, to learn how to live with failure and recognize that life goes on and it's not, you know, this debilitating diminishing moment.

Tracie Shipman  28:58  
Yep, yep, yep. I mean, I know I tell people all the time, and I am not the best at walking that talk still. But ultimately, it is about building resiliency, which I know we're gonna have another entire podcast on right in the future. And you've done some really good research on that and work and we're gonna have a whole session. Yes, I'm excited about that.

Marsha Clark  29:19  
Yes, we're going to break down the behaviors because like most things, we break them down into smaller parts so that we begin to understand them, that comprise resiliency, and we're gonna give some tips in areas that will help us and improve our resiliency.

Tracie Shipman  29:32  
So yeah, that's probably a podcast I'm gonna have to listen to multiple times... and I believe we do have the ability to build resiliency and gain some control whenever we get caught up in that monkey mind, right, that starts chattering whenever we make a mistake. And so it's a classic successful technique and desensitization which is calming the nervous system that's triggered by mistakes, which is one way to work through this. And, and so I do suggest that people and we say it in the book, we lean into that discomfort of not knowing and of not being an expert at something, and experiment, right, play with a new skill, make it safe, and have some fun, but make it challenging enough with a little bit of, with a little bit of, you know, stretch, but not a lot of risk, especially professionally or personally, right? Don't hurt yourself at all or fail. And that's going to be the key. And choose something that you're pretty sure that you already kind of have zero knowledge about or you don't have natural talents so that you're going to be guaranteed to struggle through that learning curve.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  30:41  
Yeah, I love the idea of starting something new that you know, you're going to struggle with it at first, like learning a new sport or a hobby.

Marsha Clark  30:49  
Or doing a podcast!

Tracie Shipman  30:50  
...something you guys have learned new that you've really had to you know, stretch and just or just for the sake of learning, something you guys have done.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  31:01  
15 years ago I took up painting, like acrylics. I paint acrylic. Like half of the artwork in our house is works of mine.

Marsha Clark  31:13  
I did not know that. Awesome!

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  31:14  
Yeah. 15 years ago, I realized that I've always had this an affinity for art. I love going to the Dallas Museum of Art, seeing things, you know, admiring the paintings. And finally, one day I just went, why not me and so I went to Azle art store and bought like four or five canvases and bought several colors and bought brushes, had no idea what I was doing. I took lessons for a little bit but then I stopped and now I just you know. It's a work in progress. It's always like I learn something new, my own experimentation.

Marsha Clark  31:49  
I love that. I love, I really do mean podcasts. I know nothing about the technology. I know nothing about the script. I mean, I laughingly say you know we've fulfilled all the 20 sticky notes on my wall. And then we can add one called a podcast that didn't even exist 20 plus years ago when we were putting those sticky things on the wall. And so it's been a tremendous learning experience.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  32:13  
Okay. Tracie, how about you?

Tracie Shipman  32:16  
Well, I mean I do talk in class a lot about you know, pick up a banjo. And I did I you picked up a banjo. I went and bought a little beginner banjo and there's been some lessons at School of Rock, actual banjo camp. Yeah, it was awesome.

Marsha Clark  32:35  
And so what did you learn from that?

Tracie Shipman  32:37  
Well, I did not learn how to play the banjo. No, so I'm still, so let me say I did learn how to play the banjo. I don't know, I don't know how to play the banjo. I don't know how to say that any better. No, I'm not good at the banjo yet.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  32:52  
You're not an expert.

Marsha Clark  32:53  
You're no Steve Martin.

Tracie Shipman  32:54  
I know. The beauty of it is that it was safe. My son Cole actually teases me because it's on my wall. And he's like, oh, there's your banjo art. He calls it art. I don't play it. I just have it up on my wall like a piece of art. But the process of learning to play it and making the mistakes and making all the wrong notes and working all the new things kind of firing up all those new synapses and being wrong and really kind of awful at something was the point. Yeah, and it's still the point. So you know, right now I have enough other things that I feel that I don't do well, but I don't pick the banjo back up, make noise, all the things that I...

Marsha Clark  33:39  
But I do want our listeners to get this point and not miss it. And that we can even accelerate our learning. One of my favorite phrases is 'notice what you notice'. So as you're moving through this new thing, are you short of breath? Are you clenching your jaw? Are you, you know, what's, what is that internal story we're telling ourselves in our heads and that, you know, there's a lot of research that says if we name it, if we say it out loud, then it takes some of the power away from it. And so I think that's true of the imposter phenomenon in general. And also true of what it means to quote unquote, "fail" versus, you know, learning. Because I think that the learning and then the resiliency that comes with that is hugely important.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  34:31  
Absoutely. Yeah. I'm so glad we've taken the time to talk about these aspects of the imposter phenomenon and how they can limit people from stepping into their full power.

Marsha Clark  34:41  
Well, me too, Wendi. I mean, we've known we were going to have a good series on this ever since we started this and I think in addition to stepping into, any one of us, our full potential, it's also about helping people who struggle with high IP to find ways to enjoy their lives, you know, to be able to actually take in and soak in the positive feedback that they receive and to really be able to embrace and enjoy their successes. And I really mean it when I say it is heartbreaking to watch someone who's so talented and contributes so much to their teams or communities or families, and they can't recognize that value, their own value in that way.

Tracie Shipman  35:27  
What you just said about naming it, I think it really does help to talk about it. And that's usually in fact, one of the first strategies we explore in workshops on this topic is the idea that we do need to talk about so it's back to the Bruno right, you know, we don't talk about imposter. We do need to talk about our impostor feelings and beliefs because until we can acknowledge them and examine them, they're going to stay hidden and undiscussable within ourselves, and then outwardly with those people who care about us and our success. So I am, I'm really looking forward to the next episode when we can do a deep dive into some of the additional strategies for tackling impostor syndrome.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  36:09  
So Marsha, Tracie, what final thoughts would you like to share with our listeners today?

Marsha Clark  36:14  
Tracie, I'm gonna let you do our key takeaways from today.

Tracie Shipman  36:17  
Oh, cool. Okay. Well, so actually one is we know we've got the three things that we looked at specifically today. And it was the idea of discounting praise and recognizing when we're doing that, knowing that listening to the if only's going on in our brain, that would be a big part of it, recognizing this fear of failure and the perfectionist and overworking and the over preparing, and just noting that those are probably your own kind of internal kind of perfectionist expectations that you're trying to map up to. And what is the reality, testing the reality of you know, am I really a failure if I make one mistake, and then the fear of success, and checking in to see is this a concern about being separated from a group of people or being called out and pulled away, is that part of why you're not stepping into your power because you're concerned that you're going to be pulled away from the people that you admire and respect and want to be around. So to me, those are kind of the key takeaways. And then I'd love to share something, (please) actually heard this on my first day of grad school back in 2013. And I took this huge leap of faith and entered a master's in servant leadership program at Biturbo University at the age of 50. That took me that long to go back to school. I was definitely, definitely leaning into my fears in starting that program, but one day, and it was literally on day one, the director of that program, Tom Thibodeau, who I adore, he walked into the room, and we've got this U shaped table where we're all sitting and he looked at each of us as he set the groundwork for what the program was going to be about and his role in it. And when he got to my spot, he paused and again, it was like he had been following me around my entire life. And he looked me square in the eyes. And he said, and I'm here to confront you with your goodness. I'm here to confront you with your goodness. (Wow. I love that.) Yeah.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  38:24  
How seen did you feel?

Tracie Shipman  38:26  
Oh my gosh! Intensely. Me, I will never forget it. And it was one it really was one of those moments where when the student is ready, the teacher will come. Because I often think back to that snapshot of time that reminds me that I am surrounded by people and opportunities who are constant reminders of my goodness, of my just essential goodness. (Yes.) And so it's a deeply powerful way to manage my imposter stuff that swirls around when I remember that.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  38:58  
Wow. Wow. I have goosebumps. Tracie, Marsha, thank you for another fascinating peek into the world of imposter phenomenon. You know I learn something new about it every time I hear you both speak about it.

Marsha Clark  39:14  
Well, thank you Wendi. I love your stories and even your responses and reactions to all of this. It really is an intriguing topic and complicated and you know, one that you've got to dig around in and as always, Tracie, thank you for walking us through some of these deeper challenges. I mean, you've really got the the grasp of them, and you can help us understand them.

Tracie Shipman  39:37  
Thank you. Well, I mean, absolutely, it's my pleasure. And I can't wait to wrap up the series in the next episode with some strategies.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  39:44  
Well, thank you, listeners, for joining us today on our journey of authentic powerful leadership. Please download, subscribe and share this podcast wherever you like to listen. Visit Marsha's website at for links to all the tools and other resources we talked about today, and please subscribe to her email list and follow Marsha on social media.

Marsha Clark  40:10  
Well, thank you, listeners, for joining us in this second of three episodes on the imposter phenomenon. And as always, we'd love to hear from you and let us know what you're thinking, what questions you might have, how we can support you. And, you know, I love the fact that there are three of us on this podcast and we are a great example's to women supporting women!

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