In this week's episode, Billy and Brian talk to Teresa Sande, author of Find Your Fierce: Interrupt Impostor Syndrome and Own Your Success, about:
--what exactly impostor syndrome is
--her experiences, observations, and research on how people experience impostor syndrome through her time as an HR executive in Fortune 500 companies
--some of the symptoms and self-limiting thoughts people experiencing impostor syndrome have
--how flaws in the corporate cultures oftentimes lead to impostor syndrome in their employees and how that can affect women and people of color
--her frAIMwork for interrupting feelings of impostor syndrome
--her cat ChuckNorris
Like what you heard from Teresa Sande? Contact her at:
Website: www.teresasande.com or www.mirrormirrorstrategies.com
Thank you for listening to the Mindful Midlife Crisis!
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Topics you want us to cover?
"Like" and "Follow" us on Facebook: The Mindful Midlife Crisis Podcast
Please leave us a 5-Star Review! Doing so helps other people looking for a podcast like ours find it!
We hope you enjoy this week’s episode! If this episode resonates with you, please share it with your friends and family. If you’re really feeling gracious, you can make a donation to https://www.buymeacoffee.com/MMCpodcast. Your donations will be used to cover all of our production costs.
If we have money left over after covering our fees, we will make a donation to the Livin Foundation, which is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote a positive outlook on life, reduce the stigma associated with depression/mental illness, and ultimately prevent suicide through various activities, events, & outreach.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to The Mindful Midlife Crisis podcast. We hope you enjoy this week’s episode. If this episode resonates with you, please share it with your family and friends. We will do our best to put out new content every Wednesday to get you over the midweek hump. If you want episodes to be downloaded automatically to your phone each week, all you need to do is hit the checkmark, Subscribe, Like, or Follow button, depending on what podcast format you’re using. While you’re at it, feel free to leave our show a quick five-star review with a few kind words so more people like you can easily find our show. If you’re really enjoying the show and you want to help us out, feel free to make a donation to www.buymeacoffee.com/MMCpodcast. You can also access the link in our show notes. We use the money from these donations to pay whatever expenses we incur from producing the show, but, ultimately, we record this show for you so if you keep listening, we’ll keep recording and releasing new episodes each week regardless. If you’d like to contact us or if you have suggestions about what you’d like us to discuss on future episodes, feel free to email us at email@example.com or follow us on Instagram at @Mindful_Midlife_Crisis. Be sure to check out the show notes for links to the articles and resources we referenced throughout the show. Thanks again for listening. May you feel happy, healthy, and loved. Enjoy the show.
Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis, a podcast for people navigating the complexities and possibilities of life second half. Join your hosts, Billy and Brian, a couple of average dudes who will serve as your armchair life coaches as we share our life experiences, both the good and the bad, in an effort to help us all better understand how we can enjoy and make the most of the life we have left to live in a more meaningful way. Take a deep breath, embrace the present, and journey with us through The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
Billy: Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I’m your host, Billy, and, as always, I’m joined by my good friend, Brian on the Bass. Brian, how you doing over there, man?
Brian: I am juiced up today, Billy.
Billy: Juiced up.
Brian: And I told me juiced up in a bad way. I mean, I’m injecting intravenous performance-enhancing drugs to build my body and brain way past normal human performance.
Billy: How is that better than the other version?
Brian: Oh, wait a minute, I got that rehearse. No, no, no, I’m just excited to be here. Never mind. Forget what I said about that part. It’s okay.
Billy: I thought you were juiced up because we finally figured out how to get this interview conducted because we’ve been having some significant technical issues today but we finally have it figured out and we’re talking about impostor syndrome today. And I’ll tell you, nothing makes you feel more like an impostor than when the recording equipment just isn’t working on your podcast, I’ll tell you that right now. But, luckily, we have impostor syndrome expert here, Teresa Sande, to talk to us about how we can interrupt impostor syndrome. Teresa is passionate about equity in the workplace, healthy corporate cultures, and ensuring people are valued and rewarded for all of their contributions, those seen and unseen. Teresa holds a Master’s in Organizational Effectiveness and Communication and has over 20 years of corporate experience as an executive at companies such as Intel, Capital One, Cargill, and UnitedHealth Group. In addition to being an accomplished HR executive, Teresa is the CEO and founder of Mirror Mirror Strategies, an effectiveness consultancy where she is a consultant, coach, author, and speaker. She works with leaders from all walks of life to build the future they want and to realize their vision. Her debut book, Find Your Fierce: Interrupt Impostor Syndrome and Own Your Successes, is available on her website which is www.teresasande.com. No H in Teresa and we will link that in our show notes. Thank you for being here, Teresa. Yay.
Teresa: Great to be here.
Billy: The list of accomplishments of our guests just feels like they’re just getting better and better with each. I mean, we’ve had some great guests so far but I get excited reading through these lists of accomplishments here. So, Teresa, congratulations on the list of accomplishments throughout your professional and personal life.
Teresa: Thank you. Thank you.
Billy: So, Teresa, we like to have our guests share that 10 roles that they play in their life so what are the 10 roles that you listed for us?
Teresa: Sure. Number one is wife. Number two is pet mom. Number three is author. Leaders’ trusted partner is another one. Theme party thrower is another one. Billy’s been to a few of my theme parties.
Billy: They are a blast and they are all out. In fact, Dr. Dawn Graham, if you are listening, you probably want to book a ticket to Teresa and her husband Eric’s Halloween party because they turn their whole house into, it’s kind of like what the Toonies do, Brian.
Brian: Oh, wow. Yeah, I was going to say, give me an example of a theme party that’s not Halloween, like what would be another theme party you’d throw?
Teresa: Yeah, so we’ve done a couple of different ones, usually a holiday themed something, Martinis and Be Merry, something like that. Our house is very mid-century modern Mad Men style so we’ve been known to throw some Mad Men-style theme parties. We also do Pingo de Mayo, which is a ping pong tournament for celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Billy has also attended.
Billy: I took second place one year.
Teresa: And dominated, yes. Dominated.
Billy: But I was dominated in the championship match, I will say that.
Teresa: You were.
Brian: Did you lose to Teresa?
Billy: No, I did not.
Brian: Oh, okay.
Teresa: No, I like ping pong, I would not say I dominate at ping pong. Okay, so a few other of my roles. Friend. Ebike enthusiast, this is a new one. Both my husband and I have ebikes now and you can find us all around the Twin Cities because now I can go up to 50 miles without getting tired.
Billy: Oh, wow.
Teresa: Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. World traveler, absolutely, definitely a travel enthusiast. RV coveter. I really want an RV and I want to get into RVing. And then my last role that I listed was pool day aficionado. I love me a good pool day.
Billy: Oh, and that’s even one of your three roles that you’re most looking forward to so let’s talk about that, like that’s — what a great role to look forward to in the second half of your life. So, talk about why are you a pool day aficionado? Why are you looking forward to continuing that? I mean, that sounds pretty self-explanatory but what is it about pool life that suits you?
Teresa: Yeah. A couple things. I grew up swimming so, as a little kid, we had a, not fancy but one of these little round above-the-ground pools and my dad would fill it up and it would be like 55 degrees and I would jump in it and I’d come out completely blue. But, you know, I would swim just until I couldn’t stand it anymore and then I would get out and then I swam competitively through high school and I just really have always loved swimming. I feel — I was a lifeguard, just living in the water has always, and specifically in pools, has just always been a big part of my life. And now, as I’m an adult and I can lounge by the pool and have an adult beverage by the pool, I feel like the pool day aficionado status has gone to the next level. So we spend winters in Palm Springs, California, and every day is a pool day there so love that as well.
Billy: So, as a world traveler, are there particular cities in which you would like to pool?
Teresa: You know, there’s a few. I don’t know if I know the exact cities but I would love to go to one of these pools that’s like on the 30th floor and has a glass wall where it looks like you can just look out over the city. I’ve seen these on like Travel Channel and stuff like that. I’d just love to experience that someday.
Brian: Or the infinity pools, have you seen those that are kind of overlooking the ocean and it doesn’t — it looks like water touching water. It’s just so pretty.
Teresa: Yes. Yes, that is awesome.
Billy: So, obviously, travel is a big part of your life so let’s talk about RV coveter and then owner. I don’t know if you know this but Brian and his wife bought a school bus and they turned it into an RV and —
Teresa: No way.
Billy: Yeah, you can follow it on Instagram at @wejustboughtabus. So I would say check it out. You can see the progress and everything. And I know that you and Eric kind of like projects. So, do you just want to buy a completed RV or would you be interested in doing the whole redesign of a school bus like what they did? And where would you take your RV?
Teresa: Yeah, boy, that’s a great question. I feel like I’m probably somewhere in the middle. I don’t want something totally done because I always have to put my spin on it. I don’t know if we would be as ambitious as to gut out a school bus and try to turn it into something livable, I feel like that might be out of our skill set, but we are very much — we’re pretty handy and we like to learn, love YouTube videos, stuff like that, so usually we can figure some things out. But I would say I’m very comfortable probably buying something and then redesigning it so it’s already got the bones but we redesign it and definitely decorate it differently.
Billy: And where’s the first trip in the RV?
Teresa: Probably a national park somewhere. We love, like I said, we go to Palm Springs so we drive every winter from Minneapolis to Palm Springs, it’s a 30-hour drive. We have two big dogs and a cat so we track a small zoo across the country when we go and so I think we would just follow the weather pattern and hit some parks along the way. But I have a feeling that the first destination would be Palm Springs. We would probably break it in on a cross country trek one of the years that we were going out to California, but, hopefully, some pretty cool stops along the way.
Billy: And your cat’s name is?
Teresa: Chuck Norris.
Billy: I love that that it’s not Chuck, I love that it’s not Norris, you always refer to it as Chuck Norris.
Teresa: Yes. It is my favorite when we go to the vet because they call you over the PA system and they’re always like, “Chuck Norris Sandy, we’re ready for you in room 2,” and everyone always looks to see who the heck Chuck Norris Sandy is.
Brian: Well, they want to know if it’s the Chuck Norris, I’m sure.
Billy: That is fantastic. And then the last one you put here is wife so what is it that you’re looking forward to the second half of your life in terms of being a wife?
Teresa: Honestly, Eric, and I have fun every day. We laugh and have adventures and I’ve just been the luckiest wife. I’ve got the best husband literally. And I’m just looking forward to just as much time as we can spend together, which I think is something to be said. We’ve been together 23 years, something like that, and every day, I am grateful and I look forward to it and I’m looking for more time together, more adventures, less work as we move into the second half of life and just spend time together.
Billy: We have two people here today who are relationship goals. So, Teresa and Eric are definitely relationship goals. Brian and Cathleen, the two of you our relationship goals. It’s good for a single guy like me to be surrounded today by people who really have deep, passionate, loving relationships. And so when I see, for sure, you and Eric together and when I see Brian and Cathleen together, you are all just amazing partners and you make great teams. And so if people are out there and they’re like, “Uh,” just listen, these two are relationship goals and I mean that sincerely and that is coming from a cynical single man who’s never been married right there. So let’s do this. Teresa, you are here to talk about how we can interrupt impostor syndrome so what we’re going to do is we’re going to take a quick break and then when we come back, we’re going to talk to you about what impostor syndrome is and what it looks like. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. If you’re enjoying what you’ve heard so far, please do us a favor and hit the Subscribe button. Also, giving our show a quick five-star review with a few kind words helps us on our quest to reach the top of the podcast charts. Finally, since you can’t make a mixtape for your friends and loved ones like you used to do, share this podcast with them instead. We hope our experiences resonate with others and inspire people to live their best lives. Thanks again. And now, let’s take a minute to be present with our breath.
If you’re listening somewhere safe and quiet, close your eyes and slowly inhale for four, three, two, one. Hold for seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Slowly exhale for eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Let’s do that one more time. Inhale for four, three, two, one. Hold for seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Slowly exhale for eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Go ahead and open your eyes. You feel better? We certainly hope so. And now, back to the show.
Billy: Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We are here with Teresa Sande and she is the author of Find Your Fierce: Interrupt Impostor Syndrome and Own Your Success. Brian and I are recording from our home studios today so if you think we sound a little wonky, that’s why, get over it, and enjoy what Teresa has to say about impostor syndrome because, Teresa, you really are an expert on impostor syndrome so could you define what impostor syndrome is so that we all kind of get a better understanding of that?
Teresa: So, there are textbook definitions of impostor syndrome and maybe in explaining it, I can just give you a little bit of background on it. There were two professors back in the 1970s, so Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, they were working with PhD students and what they started to notice, particularly with their female PhD students, was that despite high achievements, high test scores, academic accolades, the female students were not able to own their success. They couldn’t internalize that the success came directly as a result of their actions. They were saying things like, “I just got lucky to get into this program,” “I must have charmed the admissions office,” and Clance and Imes were not seeing that with their male PhD students. So they got really curious about this and did a study. And what they found was that people who feel that the success is attributed to luck or to other external factors that they had no control over led to people feeling like it was just a matter of time before somebody found out that they weren’t as great as everybody thought they were, that there was a shoe that was gonna drop, and they were going to get found out as frauds, that they didn’t actually belong there. And so the way that I define impostor syndrome is it’s maybe I was just in the right place at the right time, I got lucky, but that luck is going to run out and I’m going to be found out that I’m a fraud and I’m not the amazing, awesome person that somebody thought I was.
Billy: It’s interesting that you bring that up, this is actually time sensitive in a way for me because my niece just got accepted to a USC Master’s program and so, as you’re telling me this, I’m thinking of her and I want her to make sure that she understands, “No, you got in it because you’re awesome and that this wasn’t by luck. You got into it because of the hard work that you put in,” so that’s really fascinating that that was the study that they did and those were the things that they were finding. So, how did you come to write about this topic? Why was this such a fascinating topic for you? Can you talk about the process of what your experiences with impostor syndrome have been?
Teresa: Yeah, absolutely, and even before I do that, I just want to say, please do encourage your niece, reinforce, underline, exclamation point. It’s so important that we do that for people because we don’t know what the thought process is and she might be thinking, “I was just lucky,” or whatever so we don’t know so compliments and reassurance is free so I love that you’re going to do that. And it is fascinating. In fact, just one side note, before impostor syndrome became mainstream, Clance and Imes actually studied it and coined the term “impostor phenomenon” because it was such a phenomenon. They couldn’t link it back to an exact scientific thing that you were healed from, it was really this perplexing, complex phenomenon. Mainstream kind of took hold of it and now the term is much more widely known as “impostor syndrome.” But how I got involved with it is you read my bio, 23-plus years in corporate America and I’ve always been in the HR and sort of talent development, leadership development space. As I was working with up and coming talent, people that were in the pipeline, the next vice presidents, the next executives, I started seeing a similar theme, a similar trend, just like Clance and Imes where certain people I was coaching were having a really difficult time internalizing the success and it started to bring out some interesting behaviors. So, when you feel like, “Oh my gosh, I’m looking over my shoulder. It’s a matter of time before somebody finds out I’m not actually this great,” it brings out some less than effective behaviors, things like you start micromanaging your team. You might start over analyzing your work product, agonizing over decisions. You might start moving slower because you’re checking and double checking and triple checking your work. And so the very thing that got these up and coming executives to the table was the thing that was starting to paralyze them and prohibit them from actually being amazing executives. And I too was really perplexed by this and started doing some research and just said, “You know, is this a lack of self-confidence? What is this?” That’s what I came upon impostor phenomenon/impostor syndrome and the more that I started reading about it and sharing it with the people I was coaching, the response was almost universal. So people would say this sigh of relief and then they would say, “Oh, my gosh. I’m not alone? I’m not the only person that feels this way? There’s actually a name for it? Okay, now I can do something with it. Now that I know, I can actually work on fixing it.” But that brought the next question which was, “Teresa, how do I fix this?” and I’m like, well, that’s an excellent question. And so, again, I set out on just years of research and talking to people, and through the coaching that I was doing, we would try some things and I would watch and I would observe what worked, what didn’t work when you’re battling impostor syndrome. And that was really I guess the impetus for writing the book, which was now I’ve got all this information and I feel like people could benefit from it and so that was really the start of that journey.
Billy: So what did you find worked? What did you find didn’t work? Or was it individual, like it is in most cases?
Teresa: It is very individual. So, all through the book, what any reader would find is a number of exercises, tools, tips, techniques, things to try, and it’s not because you need 25 things to battle impostor syndrome. I put all of those in there because what works for one person might not work for someone else and the reason for that is impostor syndrome is an outcome. It’s a complex outcome of our environment and our experiences and that can come from our upbringing, that can come from messages that we’ve received from parents, that can come from cultural norms that are placed on us, certainly comes from expectations and societal norms that get placed on the different genders. So it isn’t a simple impostor syndrome comes from this one thing and, therefore, the solution is not one thing and it really depends on, for the individual person, where is it coming from for you and then what actions you need to take to battle it.
Billy: So you talked a little bit about some of the symptoms that people experience. So, can you elaborate on those? And what are some of the self-limiting fears that people experience when you’re coaching them? We just had Scott Welle on not too long ago and he talked about the number one thing that he sees with the people that he works with are these self-limiting fears and he has a great story about his own self-limiting fears got in his own way and how he had to overcome those. So, what are you seeing in terms of common symptoms? Common self-limiting fears?
Teresa: Yeah, so I mentioned a few of them. In the workplace, it can show up like the overanalyzing, overworking, fear of not being perfect, even though intellectually we know perfection doesn’t exist, but when impostor syndrome is at play, you feel this sense of scarcity, like, “I’ve got to get it right, I can’t make a mistake. The light is shined on me now, the stakes are really high, and if I mess up,” it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy, “If I mess up, yep, I knew it, I’m a fraud and I didn’t belong in this role,” instead of being able to just say to yourself, “Yeah, you know what, people are humans so we make mistakes,” and sometimes we leave out a detail on a report and it’s not the end of the world. There’s this model that talks about what you think drives what you do and what you do drives the result that you get. And, often if people don’t like a result that they’re getting, like, “Oh, I didn’t think that report was very good,” so they go back and they analyze and overanalyze the inputs to the report and then they try to get a different report or a different outcome. So they get caught in what I call this Bermuda triangle between, “I’m gonna behave differently and get a different outcome,” and then, “I didn’t like the outcome, I’ll behave differently, I’ll get a different outcome,” but if you never go all the way back to the beginning and say, “What do you think about this situation? What do you think about your capabilities? What do you think about your expertise, your talents, and your ability to add value?” So if you never go all the way back to your thought process, then you’re going to be caught in this, “I’m doing and I’m getting an outcome. I’m doing and I’m getting an outcome.” If you can go back and think about and change your thought patterns to say, “You know what, I am smart, I do know what I’m doing. I do know how to do this report. I know how to make this report add value to the situation or to this meeting,” if you can get back to that and believe that, then the actions you’re going to take are going to be different and the outcome you’re going to get is going to be different. But that’s so important and when we’re in a scarcity mindset or feeling like someone’s over my shoulder, there’s a shoe that’s about to drop and I can’t make a mistake, we’re almost incapable as humans to go back and pause for a moment and say, “What do I think about this situation?” We just get caught I’m doing and I’m getting an outcome, I’m doing it, I’m getting an outcome. If you can go back and think about, and change your thought patterns to say, You know what, I am smart, I do know what I’m doing, I do know how to do this report, I know how to make this report add value to, you know, to the situation or to this meeting, if you can get back to that and believe that, then the actions you’re going to take are going to be different, and the outcome you’re going to get is going to be different. But that’s so important. And when we’re in a scarcity mindset or feeling like someone’s over my shoulder, there’s a shoe that’s about to drop, and I can’t make a mistake. We’re almost incapable as humans to go back and pause for a moment and say, “What do I think about this situation?” We just get caught in this like doing, doing, doing versus human being, if that makes sense.
Brian: It sounds like mindfulness principles, actually. There’s a strong correlation there.
Billy: And it’s funny that you just said that, both of you just said that, because I’m reading Tom Cody’s, he co-authored a book called Rebalanced Thinking, Rebalanced Living, and one of the chapters, and we’re having Tom on here very soon, actually, one of the chapters is dedicated to human being versus human doing and that we are human beings, we’re not human doing. And when we talked to Sarah Rudell Beach, she talked about being mode and doing mode and how being mode feels so self-indulgent and that it feels lazy so we feel like we constantly need to be doing something, when, in reality, we probably just need to take some time to be with our breath, to simply be and exist, because, sometimes, just being and existing is enough, or is a lot, especially in this day and age.
Teresa: Yes, I couldn’t agree with you more. And so throughout the book, you mentioned, like what works, what doesn’t, there is very much an underlying principle around mindfulness to anything that you’re going to do to try to wrap your arms around and battle impostor syndrome, because if you’re not even aware that it’s happening, if you’re not tuned in and mindful to your physical and mental responses, to your environment and to situations, then you can’t even begin to figure out what the next best step is. You’re going to be on this, I call it a hamster wheel of just doing. You’re not actually doing the things that serve you as a being.
Billy: There are so many physical responses to everything you are saying here today because, like this, I know that impostor syndrome is something that has crept in in my life and, first of all, as a perfectionist, I completely disagree that perfectionism is not real and attainable. It totally is, Teresa, what are you talking about? I have never achieved perfectionism but I constantly am reaching for it. So, no, it’s absolutely something that weighs on me and I will meticulously edit our episodes and even when I get done with it, I’m like, “Oh, this could still be better,” or, “Oh, I wish we could have done this. I wish we could have done that,” and then when you were talking about how if you left the detail off of a report, that that’s okay, I literally started sweating more under my recording tent than I was right now because I was thinking to myself, “That’s okay? No. If I made that mistake and then someone brought to my attention, how much of a fraud I would look like.” And one of my favorite things, as I’m watching Brian react to everything that you’re saying to this, so, Brian, you and I couldn’t be more different.
Brian: I was going to say what’s the opposite of impostor syndrome? Because I’m on the other side, I’m like, “Decisions? Okay. If I leave something off, it happens.” I can make decisions at the drop of a hat and then I’ll deal with it later.
Billy: Yeah, it’s so funny. So, I’m kind of curious, Brian, as you’re hearing this, and, Teresa, you can jump in on this too, how do you work with people who maybe are feeling these self-limiting thoughts and how do you help them move past that? Especially when maybe you’re not somebody who has experienced that before. Here’s kind of what I mean by that. I dated somebody who, and I would tell her, “Listen, I really struggle with anxiety and you don’t know what that’s like,” and she said, “I get that but I don’t struggle with anxiety and you don’t know what that’s like,” and I was like, “Oh, that’s a really good point.” So for her trying to communicate to me and me trying to communicate to her about what anxiety is, that kind of thing, there was a disconnect in that. So I’m curious, how do you have those conversations with people? If you and, Teresa, you’ve done the research on this, that sort of thing so I imagine that helps but I’m just kind of curious how the both of you have those conversations?
Teresa: You asked this question before, what works and what doesn’t. I can tell you what doesn’t work is when someone says, “No, just get over it. You’re fine.” It’s kind of like telling somebody with anxiety, “Just don’t be anxious,” like that doesn’t work. Or telling someone who doesn’t experience anxiety to be like, “This is what it feels like, don’t you get it?” I mean, so there is this experiential need to be involved in the process and to have empathy for the person that is experiencing it that it’s very real for them. Just like there’s nothing wrong when Brian says, “Yeah, I’m not gonna worry about that extra detail on a report,” there’s nothing wrong with that, either. So when I’m coaching people, it’s very much about meeting them where they’re at, figuring out what their motivation is and where they want to go, and then I help create a pathway to get them there. And that path is different for, what that would look like, Billy, if you and I worked together from a coaching perspective would be very different than if Brian and I worked together. And one isn’t right, one isn’t better, it’s the path that you’re on to get to the end goal that you want to get to.
Billy: So then you’ve worked in corporate America for decades, so you have this experience and, in the book, you talk about that there are flaws built within corporate cultures that can lead to impostor syndrome. So what are those flaws and how do you work with business leaders to address those flaws within their community, within their employees?
Teresa: Yeah, I choose the word “flaws” because I think sometimes certain corporate cultures don’t bring out the best in people but maybe to assign a more neutral term to it, it’s more like there are certain cultural tenets to a corporate setting that feed impostor syndrome. So, for example, the bar is raised every time we set goals in corporate America. So if you hit a certain revenue target, then the next year, you better believe your revenue targets going to be higher. If you were able to pump out five widgets, well, tomorrow, you’re going to pump out seven widgets, so we’re constantly raising the bar and that’s just the nature of business. I mean, we want to be more productive, we want to be more profitable, we want to achieve more and more success, but that achievement drive, there’s a saying, “Any strength overused becomes a liability,” and achievement drive is such a big part of corporate culture to achieve. You say jump, I say how high. You put the bar here, I’m going to jump over that bar. And when we’re constantly trying to attain this achievement and this next level bar that we’re trying to hit, it can start to feel like, “I’m never gonna get there. I’m never gonna be good enough,” and if you struggle with impostor syndrome, you can also feel like, “I mean, yeah, I did that thing but I don’t know if I can do the next thing,” and everybody is sitting here saying, “Oh, Brian, I’m so glad you’re at the helm. Thank goodness you’re our leader and you’re gonna lead us to the next thing,” and it’s natural to go, “Okay, but that next thing, I’ve not done yet, like I don’t actually know if I can do it.” And so, self-doubt can creep in, lack of confidence can creep in, all kinds of things can creep in and that negative self-talk where we tell ourselves, “Maybe I’m not that good,” can be extremely paralyzing. The other thing that I would just say about — the reason in my book that I talk about the flaws of corporate culture, it really has to do with the gender divide, the male-female gender divide in corporate America. And I talked about that because that’s what my experience base is. That’s the world that I come from. It doesn’t mean that it’s all inclusive of everything, so I’ll talk in somewhat generalizations, but, as a woman climbing the corporate ladder, as you reach certain ranks and certain levels, you look around and you don’t see people that look like you. They don’t sound like you, they didn’t have the same experience that you had. There isn’t always a camaraderie. I don’t look around and see people I feel comfortable with. When I start to feel have scarcity or I’m fearful that I might not be successful, the last thing I want to do is be vulnerable with a group of people that I don’t necessarily look like or feel like we have any commonality. And so what do I do? I don’t ask for help. I work harder, I put my head down, I do all the things that I just mentioned could be a symptom or an outcome of how impostor syndrome shows up. I overwork, I micromanage, I can’t make a mistake, I’ve got to be perfect, because also when I look around and I don’t see people that look like me or followed my path, then I wonder, “This might be my only shot. If I mess this one up, I might not get back to the table because I don’t see anybody else that looks like me,” and that just feeds scarcity.
Billy: I wonder if that then also says, “If I screw this up, I screw this up for the 10, 15, 20, 50, 100 people behind me as well.”
Teresa: Yes, 100 percent, and I’ve worked with a lot of women and people of color in corporate America who are carrying the burden of representation. They’re carrying the burden of, “Well, I’m the female voice at the table and so I can’t just speak for myself and speak freely about whatever Teresa Sande wants to say, I gotta be responsible because I’m speaking for the other 15 women who are knocking on the door but haven’t gotten to the table.” And so that burden that we carry is very real as well. And until there is more equity and parity at the senior leadership table in corporate America, I think that’s going to continue to persist.
Billy: That’s one reason why I’m really looking forward to speaking with Ericka Jones who is going to talk to us about inclusion, diversity, and equity. She’s doing that over at Cargill and I think that’s a great point. You use that word, “burden,” that people of color and women who are in these leadership roles I can only imagine experience and as part of the privilege of being a white male, I don’t have that mindset where it’s like, well, I can just do and the only repercussion is to me and I just own it for myself. And then I guess you talked about how corporate culture has these flaws and how it impacts particularly women and people of color so then how do you help corporate culture shift their mindset around this while also fostering individual awareness and motivation to overcome those feelings of inferiority or those feelings of impostor syndrome?
Teresa: So you mentioned it a little bit with the diversity, equity, and inclusion. This is a very active conversation in corporate America and I absolutely believe that that thread of the conversation plays a big part in whether or not a culture feeds impostor syndrome, especially for anyone who’s in the minority. And like I said, in corporate America, I’m speaking in generalization, but in corporate America, still the senior most ranks and those positions are held by white men. It doesn’t make white men wrong, it is just the makeup of the demographic, and, as such, when you’re an other and you don’t fit that majority, when you get to those senior levels, impostor syndrome is just — it goes wild. It is just fed and that fire is stoked on a daily basis. The other thing that I would say, and I love that you’re having an expert on the show that’s going to talk about equity and inclusion, I always say — there’s the saying, “If diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance,” and I love that analogy and I think it’s a powerful one and I’m challenging the organizations I’m working with to go one step further and say, “Inclusion is not enough. We have to get to true belonging for people.” So if diversity is being invited to the party and inclusion is being asked to dance, achieving true belonging for people is nobody has to wait for an invitation because it’s their house too. When we talk about inclusion, “Oh, I’m inviting you to the party. I’m inviting you to dance,” that’s still implying that someone else is in power, someone else holds the keys to the house, someone else decides who gets to come. And so if we can get to belonging, a true sense of belonging where I just belong there, I just fit, I’m not —
Billy: You feel welcome to join there, yeah.
Teresa: Yeah, like it’s not even — I don’t even have to pause for that invitation. I don’t think twice before I walk in the door and we’re not there today. And so, sometimes, I often talk to people about you might feel like you don’t fit in, you might feel like a fraud or like you’re putting on a mask at work because you probably are. If you’re someone who’s in the minority, you have adjusted your behavior, your approach, your speech, your presence, how you dress, how you do your hair, you have adjusted those things at some point in your career to feel safe and to feel like you fit in. And it might not have been how you wanted to do your hair and what you wanted to wear, but, this is going to sound dated, but like if the senior leaders in corporate America believe that you’re supposed to wear a blue suit, then I feel like I got to show up in an 80s power suit with shoulder pads or something. And that’s not how I want to be, that’s not who I am, but I’ve adjusted to play a part and to fit in. And when we’re not our authentic selves, that too feeds impostor syndrome.
Billy: It’s so crazy that you mentioned that. As you were talking about that, it brought to mind a friend of mine who works in education and she’s biracial and she talked about how, for years, she would straighten her hair and she would put in her blue contacts because she felt like she would get more respect from her students and then she — I feel like she recognized and started to embrace the African American side in her a little bit more and she said, “How am I representing that part of who I am,” and she said, “That’s who I identify with,” and so she just said, “You know what, I’m letting my hair be curly, I’m not putting in these blue contacts anymore. This is who I am. Love it, take it, or leave it.”
Teresa: Yeah, and I love that she got to that place. You know, I’ll tell you a brief story. We used to run these leadership programs and we would have leaders come together, they were selected from all across an organization, I won’t say where I was working at the time, but they would come together and they would be put into groups of five and they would do a research project on a real business issue and we would actually just fill the auditorium with employees to come listen to their ideas of what did they come up with. And it was sort of like Shark Tank, they’d come up on stage and they would share what they researched and share their ideas and there was a panel of judges down at the front of the audience, but they were presenting to 500 people in the auditorium. And I remember one time I was on the judging panel and this group came out and, one by one, each of the five members of the group presented their section of the presentation and the findings and this one gentleman came out, Paul, he was a white male, very tall, he came out on stage, he’s wearing his blue power suit, we were talking about power suits, came out in his blue suit. He knew several of the judges on the panel. In fact, sort of unprofessionally, he kind of like gave the finger guns to a couple of them, winked, waved, whatever. That’s fine. And he just drew a blank. I mean, sweat drops on his forehead, he couldn’t remember his numbers. He was like a deer in the headlights when those auditorium lights came on. And he stammered and it was awkward and he literally apologized and he walked off stage. He didn’t even do his part. So the next person came out, it was this woman, Monique, African American woman, she comes out, she’s wearing a blue suit and it struck me because she had her hair down, like you mentioned, Billy, kind of little bit covering one eye but it was straight, very professional looking, and she delivered her presentation, facts, figures, it was a little bit monotone but she nailed it. I mean, she did the job and, in fact, picked up a bunch of stuff that Paul didn’t do. So she kind of saved it for the group. And then the next couple people came up. And at the end, the judges get together and we confer, we talked about what’s our feedback for the group and give each of the presenters their feedback and a score. And the group was going to give Paul a four out of five and they were going to give Monique a three out of five and the reasoning was the panel knew Paul and they said, “We know Paul, he knows his stuff. Oh my gosh, I see him all the time around the office. There is not a smarter person. I have every confidence that Paul knows how to do this stuff and we’ve all been there, I felt so bad for him. We’ve been there. Oh my gosh.” Lots of empathy for Paul. When it came to Monique, they very much were judging her on her performance. So they judged Paul on his potential, but they judged Monique on performance. And they said, “Well, she did know the facts and figures so we’ll give her credit for that, but, my gosh, like from a presentation standpoint, kind of monotone, a little bit boring. Also, she was kind of fidgeting, like her suit jacket didn’t fit her quite right and her hair was kind of covering her eye, it was very distracting.” In the moment, I was reflecting on this and I’m like, okay, I’ve seen Monique around the office and she normally doesn’t wear a suit, she’s normally in very bright colors, scarf, her hair is usually up, she looks completely different but, that day, she showed up to play a part and we judged her on her performance of that part fitting a norm that was never even designed for her. Whereas Paul, we gave him the benefit of the doubt because he totally fit the norm, he totally fit the mold which was built for him, the definition of success was you come out, you look powerful, you connect with people, even if you don’t do the job, like we felt like you could do the job. And so we judged him on potential. And so all of this, I mean, it’s kind of a long-winded way of just saying that these flaws in the corporate environment are rooted in bias, preference and bias. And I always say to have preference doesn’t make you a bad human being, we all have preference, we all have bias, but when it goes unchecked or we’re just not even aware that it’s happening, you can see that the impact for people who are not in the majority is much more significant. I mean, Monique was going to walk out of there with a three and Paul was going to walk out of there with a four.
Billy: I almost feel like we need to go to break right now just because I need to process that. That’s so infuriating. And I can only imagine that people of color and women, this is what their daily experience is, particularly in corporate America. And not just in corporate America. That’s so mind blowing and frustrating for me and I feel like people get upset when they have to sit through inclusion, diversity, and equity trainings. There’s like this example that you just gave right here and my friend who decided that she needed to fit a role that wasn’t necessarily something that she was comfortable with, that’s why we need to keep doing this. Like that’s why do we need to have these kinds of conversations. I don’t know. I don’t even know how to respond to that. I imagine that that’s so frustrating on so many levels. So, I think we will take a quick break while we process all of that. I hope all of you take a break and process all of that as well. And then when we come back, we’re going to continue talking to Teresa and she’s going to outline for us her framework. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
Thanks for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We will do our best to put out new content every Wednesday to help get you over the midweek hump. If you’d like to contact us or if you have suggestions about what you’d like us to discuss, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Instagram at @Mindful_Midlife_Crisis. Check out the show notes for links to the articles and resources we reference throughout the show. Oh, and don’t forget to show yourself some love every now and then too. And now, back to the show.
Billy: Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis shit show. Brian and I could not be experiencing more technical difficulties than we are today. My flashlight — Brian’s chair broke so we got that going on. I have a flashlight that I use so people can see me in the recording tent. The battery is dead on that right now. Teresa’s earbuds were not working. So, during that last segment, if you’re like, “Why isn’t Teresa interjecting?” it’s because she couldn’t hear us at the end so that’s one reason we went to break. The fact that we’re even recording here today is a minor miracle because we spent the first 45 minutes trying to get this set up on Riverside and it just wasn’t working so we’re using Zoom. So if the audio quality isn’t up to snuff, like I said before, just deal with it. And because Teresa is just crushing this interview and —
Brian: Despite challenges.
Billy: Despite the challenges —
Billy: Exactly. She is showing resilience and we greatly appreciate it. Once again, we have Teresa Sande here. She is talking about how we can interrupt impostor syndrome. Teresa, thank you so much for being here. Thank you so much for putting up with this nonsense that is going on here. You are a trooper.
Teresa: Absolutely. My pleasure.
Billy: So we talked about how it’s primarily women and people of color who experience impostor syndrome but, in your research, 82 percent of people experience impostor syndrome and I wanted to bounce that back to something that you had said in an interview where it sounded like you connected having a high EQ with potentially working against someone and leading to impostor syndrome. So, can you talk a little bit more about that?
Teresa: Yeah. So, I guess a point of clarification. It’s not that women and people of color are predisposed to experience impostor syndrome more than men or white people. Impostor syndrome is an outcome of a set of experiences and because of the story I just told before we went to break, the environments that we’re a part of, the messages that we receive, women and people of color tend to suffer the consequence of impostor syndrome much more acutely and the tail of that impact is longer, because like we talked about, I look around and I don’t see people like myself that I can go to and I have a trusted relationship with or that I feel comfortable being vulnerable with, then I don’t work through it quickly. So I hang out down in impostor syndrome a lot longer, or I let it impact my performance maybe longer than someone who feels very comfortable and can bounce out of it. There’s a story that I sometimes tell about a white male executive that I was working with and he said, “You know, I’ve heard you talk about impostor syndrome a few times and what is it? Can you just tell me what this is?” and so I described it to him and he said, “I have that, 100 percent I have that,” and I said, “Well, okay, why don’t you tell me how it shows up for you?” and he said, “Well, when I was named in this job,” now he’s like one of the top five people in the company, “When I was named to this job, I was 100 percent sure that they had made a mistake and they were gonna find out that I didn’t know what I was talking about.” And I said, “Well, that sounds like impostor syndrome. What did you do?” And he said, “Well, I walked down the hall, my friend was a couple doors down,” his friend was number three in the company, so he walked down the hall to his friend, another white male, closed the door and said, “Man, they made a mistake. They’re gonna figure me out,” and his friend said to him, “I’ve worked with you for 15 years, I’ve seen you turn around businesses, we went to college together, I think I know that you’re really smart and that you’re equipped to do this job,” and he said, “But if you don’t believe me and all the examples I’m giving you about how awesome you are, just call the CEO yourself. I mean, go ask him,” and I said, “So what did you do?” and he said, “Well, I went back to my office,” and he said, “You know, I thought that’s a good idea and so I called the CEO.” And right there, I paused and I said, “Wait a minute, so you just picked up the phone and you called the CEO? That phone direct dial right to the CEO and he answered?” and he’s like, “Well, yeah.” And so I said, “Okay, so continue,” and he said, “Well, I was telling him, man, I think you made a mistake. I mean, I’m gonna be honest with you, I think you made a mistake,” and he said, the CEO said to him, “You know, I’ve seen your leadership for the last 20 years at this company, I know what you’re capable of. I don’t make bad choices about who I put in these roles so I have every confidence in you. Not to mention the fact that you coach my kids on the soccer field, like you’re a leader inside this organization, outside this organization. I know I made the right choice.” And I said, “So then what happened?” and he said, “Well, I hung up the phone and I squared up my shoulders and I thought, well, I got some work to do and I got after it.” And I said, “Okay, just imagine though, you didn’t have someone two doors down that you had a trusting relationship with, that you went to college with, that you could walk over, close the door, and be vulnerable. Or you didn’t have a back phone to the CEO, how would that scenario have been different when you felt like an impostor? What would you have done?” And he paused for a moment and he said, “Well, I don’t know. I mean, I guess I would have just worked harder. I guess I would have probably — I don’t know. I mean, honestly, it would have eaten me alive. I think it would have just festered and it would have bothered me and it would have eaten me alive.” And I said, “Would you have talked to anyone?” He’s like, “No, that’s the last thing I would have done.” He’s like, “I wouldn’t have raised my hand and said, ‘Hey, I don’t think I’m that great,’” and I said, “Okay, so that’s the difference, not that you can’t experience impostor syndrome but the system is set up to enable you to bounce out of it and recover from it quite quickly and to believe what you’re being told because when people say, ‘I think you’re awesome and you’re gonna do a great job,’ and you look around and you see a lot of people that have the same path that you had and they’re all doing a great job, the system and the environment is there to reinforce that you’re not a fraud, you’re not a fraud, you’re gonna to be just fine.” But if that’s not the experience, like if that would have been me, no amount of saying, “Oh, Teresa, just don’t feel that way. You’re fine. You’re great,” that’s an incongruent message with what I see around me. So impostor syndrome is an outcome of your environment and so isn’t that women and people of color just have this moral failure and they’re predisposed to not be confident or something, it has to do with the environment that they’re in and the systems that we’re a part of and at those points of high achievement, it’s fueling impostor syndrome. And so your question about EQ and whether or not high levels of emotional intelligence spark impostor syndrome more, I don’t know that there’s a scientific correlation. And, again, I’m going to talk in generalization, but research suggests that women, as an example, tend to have higher levels naturally of emotional intelligence, higher levels of self-awareness, doesn’t mean that men don’t have it or can’t get there but just naturally speaking.
Billy: And those are things that were shared in Dr. Brizendine’s book, The Female Brain, too so I think there’s a good connection to that. If listeners want to go back and take a listen to our series on the female brain by Dr. Louann Brizendine, go ahead and listen to those four episodes to get a deeper understanding of what Teresa is talking about, sorry to interrupt.
Teresa: No, that’s awesome. That’s an awesome connection. So when you have higher levels of emotional intelligence, and I’m going to call it “others’ orientation,” I’m empathetic, I put myself in the shoes of other people, I think about the community and the system before I think about myself, it’s natural that I’m also going to look to external forces for validation for signals of if I’m being successful and if my message is landing and things like that. So, you can see that there would be a natural correlation between the more others’ oriented you are, the more communal that you are, that you might look for external sources of validation and feedback. And then, if your systems and your environment are not set up to necessarily give that to you, when that negative voice or that thought, “I’m an impostor, I’m a fraud, I might not be as great as people think I am,” you’re looking to those external signals, and it’s also why women tend to chalk up their accomplishments to external factors, like luck, being in the right place at the right time. It’s so fascinating, the number of women in particular that I’ve coached around they do something that’s naturally very easy for them and they get a compliment, what do they say? “Oh, it’s nothing. It was easy. I love doing it. No worries.” So they don’t actually let that in as perhaps it’s a skill and a talent that you have and just because it came naturally easy for you, because you’re in the flow, doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. It doesn’t mean it’s not a talent. And yet, that’s another blind spot that we have as humans is if something comes easy to me, it’s not that hard. Anybody could do it. But that’s not true either. I mean, clearly doing podcasts comes very natural to you guys and I came in and kind of messed the whole thing up, like technology.
Brian: Well, you should hear our first episodes.
Billy: Yeah, no, no, no. We’re only as good as our guests and our technology and thank goodness that you are such an amazing guest because our technology has failed us all around today but you absolutely are saving this with the conversation and your depth of knowledge and your expertise. I was making a connection to the story you were making about the guy who felt like he was the wrong person for the job and how he had that resource just down the hall and I think that hits home to what you were saying in terms of it’s not just inclusivity that we need to focus on but we need to make sure that people feel a sense of belonging because if you’re a person of color or you’re a woman, do you feel comfortable walking down to the person down the hall who may not look like you but because you know that they’re an ally of some sort and will support you when you’re feeling doubt.
Teresa: Yes, yes. And so, you asked previously, like what can organizations do and how do they actually tackle this? Helping people have a mindset of ally-ship, an awareness that not everyone is having the same experience, paying attention to who you’re sponsoring. My story about Paul and Monique, I mean, we just naturally sponsor Paul because we get him, we’re comfortable with him, we trust that he’s going to do great. We weren’t naturally as comfortable with Monique, for whatever reason. She showed up, she was different than us, and so I might not, you might not, people might not be as inclined to sponsor Monique and say, “You know what, trust me on this, she’s the one for the job. She’s the one to put in the role.” So that ally-ship, that sponsorship, the mindset, tuning into our unconscious bias, I mean, those are the things that we got to work on to have healthy systems and healthy cultures. Healthy cultures are going to make sure that they’re not feeding impostor syndrome. So that’s the connection I’m trying to make there.
Billy: Yeah. And in the book, you outline the process of recognizing these self-defeating thoughts and how to battle these flaws through what you call frAIMwork but you spell it F-R-A-I-M-work so can you explain the meaning of that acronym?
Teresa: So, yes, frAIMwork, aim in the middle, I guess it has a dual purpose. It’s an acronym. So, the A in AIM stands for awareness, the I stands for interruption, and the M for momentum and I’ll come back to those three big categories in a minute, but the other reason why I think that’s a powerful acronym to have in the middle of framework is you’re aiming for something, it’s forward looking, it’s not agonizing about what you did or what you said or if you made a mistake and all of this backwards looking. It’s meant to say keep your eyes forward, be very present, and aim for the future. So that’s the other I guess powerful imagery with choosing to spell that word differently is it’s a reminder to keep people forward looking and not thinking about what they’ve done in the past. That doesn’t define who you are today and in the future. The AIM acronym, Awareness, Interruption, and Momentum is actually how the contents in the book is divided. It’s sort of an organizing construct, if you will, but I start with Awareness because awareness and tuning into what’s happening and how you’re reacting to the situation, naming impostor syndrome, saying it’s a thing, you’re not alone, it’s not your fault, here’s how it shows up, here’s how you know you’re experiencing it, that foundational part of awareness is so critical in achieving your success. You’ve got to have the awareness. And so the whole first third of the book is unpacking what is impostor syndrome, where does it come from for you, and how does it show up for you. Then the next two parts are really where you start to dive in and you can start changing your course. So, Interruption, think of that as short-term quick things that you can do in the moment so when that voice pops up saying, “Hey, you’re not that great. It’s a matter of time before somebody finds you out,” there are techniques that you can do to literally hit the Pause button and say, “That’s not true.” “What if that’s not true?” is one of my favorite techniques of interruption is to ask yourself in that moment, when your brain tells you you don’t belong here or it’s a matter of time before somebody finds you out, you can say, “What if that’s not true?” That question is so powerful to just quiet the voice for a moment and get your thoughts back on track. Remember, we talked about what you think drives what you do and what you do drives the results that you get so if you don’t have a way to interrupt that voice in the moment, it’s going to change the course in which you’re about to take. So that pausing and asking, “What if that’s not true?” is key to keeping you on the path and aiming towards what you actually want, which is a more positive outcome.
Billy: And I love that you choose the word “interrupt” as opposed to overcome or even prevent. I mean, obviously, if you chose overcome or prevent, you don’t have a AIM, it doesn’t fit as well, but it’s actually the perfect word to choose there so explain why you chose “interrupt,” because I love that you use that word as opposed to something like overcome or prevent.
Teresa: I chose “interrupt” because I think of it like a flow of water. When you turn off the valve, the water literally stops. And that’s what you have to do. When your brain is on autopilot and you have these thoughts that pop in that you might not even realize are going, it’s like a script running in the background, you don’t even realize sometimes that your brain is telling you, “You gotta be perfect, you can’t make a mistake, it’s a matter of time before somebody finds you out,” I mean, I say it’s a voice but sometimes we don’t even know it’s there and you have to have a way to quiet that and just say, “Zip it for a minute. I don’t need that right now.” And if you can’t stop that flow of water or stop that negative thought pattern that’s happening, then the actions you take and the outcomes you get are going to be based on that thought process. So I chose interruption because it’s like pulling a plug. Just stop for a moment, pause. And, as humans, we don’t do that, especially if you’re a high achiever. We’re on to the next thing, we’re crashing through that ceiling, we’re raising the bar and we’re showing people that we’re amazing and we can do the next great thing. So pausing is one of the most powerful tools that we have. Then I go into the Momentum section of the book, which is the M in the acronym and that’s the deep work. So now you’ve been able to hit Pause and say, “Hey, this is not serving me in the moment,” but now what? How do you go back and rewrite those neural pathways, rewrite your thoughts, rewrite what you actually believe to be true about your skills and your talents and where you’re going? I had somebody who was reading the book and they said, “You know, I love the frAIMwork, I love the three sections, sat down, actually got through the first two sections of the book, two-thirds of the book in a couple of hours. I mean, I was just cranking through it. And I got to Momentum and I thought, okay, buckle up, here we go,” and he said, “I just totally, it slowed down, and here’s this section called Momentum and I’m supposed to be like going fast and it way slowed me down. Is that normal?” And I said, “100 percent that’s normal,” because now we’re doing the deep work. Now we’re actually tuning into what are my beliefs? What do I think about myself? What are my values? How do I place value on what I contribute to the world? That’s heavy stuff, that’s deep stuff, but I promise you, if you put in the work to be mindful and to dig into that Momentum section, the next time impostor syndrome pops up, you’ve got a stronger foundation and it doesn’t knock you down. You now have done the work and you’ve got this mindset and you’ve got the skills and the tools to say, “You know what, number one, I know who you are, awareness, I’ve seen this movie before. I’m gonna interrupt you in the moment because I’m not gonna let you derail what I’m doing and I’m giving a presentation, I’m delivering this report, whatever it is, and I’ve done the deep work so I actually know who I am and I know what my strengths are and I know what my talents are and I believe that instead of that voice that pops up.” So that’s why I walk through the awareness, the interruption, and the momentum and why they actually go together. So it’s not a guarantee that you’ll never experience impostor syndrome again if you do these exercises and you do this work, but I do guarantee that it will not be as acute, it will not prevent you from taking the next step, the way impostor syndrome does when you haven’t done that work.
Billy: What’s so exciting for me as we continue to talk to people throughout the season is all the connections that we’re able to make between what you’re saying to the other conversations that we have had with people. I think too when we talked to Jill Dahler and as a life coach, she talks about, “I’m going to interrupt anytime you have these self-limiting doubts,” like she’s going to be an audible voice to shut those down. And then when we talked to Brett Hill about the language of mindfulness, he talks about how we can do that very thing that you were talking about, interrupting, through a mindfulness practice by feeling it somatically in our body where we recognize, “Oh, wait, I’m having this thought that is creating some self-limiting doubt within me,” and you all kind of have these same tools in your toolbox which is why you are doing these amazing things. And when you’re talking about momentum, for me, I connected it to physical therapy or rehab where, okay, I’m ready to do this but I need to do this very slowly and very purposefully because if I don’t, then I’m going to get right back into the hamster wheel and I’m going to miss developing small skills that are going to be able to develop more momentum. And then I imagined it’s almost cyclical that when you start developing momentum, you have to slow that down because you’ve talked about how impostor syndrome often shows up when you’re promoted or you achieve or accomplish something. So, how then do we have to slow the momentum down and start that circle all over again so that we recognize, “Oh, hey, wait, I’m starting to feel this because there are more responsibilities in my life, more people are dependent on me, I’m supposed to have more skill sets if I have subordinates,” that kind of thing.
Teresa: Yeah. I think it’s a great connection to make and I love the analogy of the physical therapy and being really present in your body and this is about being really present in your mind of what are you thinking and then that’s driving what you’re doing and what you do is driving the outcome that you’re getting. So, to be the best version of yourself and get the best outcomes, it does require you to go all the way back and say, “What do I think about this?” And that’s the awesome thing about it. In the introduction, you said that I’m the CEO of Mirror Mirror strategies, the name of my business actually comes from something that I do with my clients, which is I hold up a mirror for them and help them see what maybe they’re not able to see for themselves. And that could be for the individual person or that could be for the organization that I’m working with. And I think that’s really powerful because once you see something, you can’t unsee it. So once you know something, you can’t unknow it. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to take action on everything that you learn and follow a million paths but awareness is the first step. Seeing and understanding is the first step, because then you can be at choice of what you do next versus when you’re just blissfully unaware and you’re going through life and you don’t realize these things that might be limiting beliefs or they might be holding you back.
Billy: It’s funny that you talked about the idea of holding up the mirror, because I’ve come to you when I started this podcast just to kind of generate some ideas and get an idea as to where to potentially take this and you’re so gracious with your time and you and Eric both sat down together, your husband, and offered up these great ideas and Eric said, “We’ve hit you with a lot of stuff, go do a brain dump, type everything out, so that you have it organized,” and I thought that was just a genius idea too. And you are able to work with people and see their strengths. I watched you do this the other weekend with a friend of mine and you had never met this person before and you and your husband, Eric, sat down with my friend Kelly and the three of you just really dived into this idea that she had and then I just sort of popped into the conversation later and I’m listening to this and I got excited for her because the way that the three of you developed this idea was so amazing, I’m like, “Kelly, you need to pursue this. This is such a great idea,” and I feel like you’re able to help people navigate through some of the sludge of self-limiting doubts and you’re able to help them navigate through the fact that we don’t know what we don’t know and you help them see those things in a way that allows them to be the best versions of themselves. And so I want to thank you for being such an amazing person. I want to thank you for the time that you gave to us today. We really, really appreciated talking to you. You can go to www.teresasande.com and you can purchase her book, Find Your Fierce. Teresa, thank you so much for being here today.
Teresa: Thank you. Thank you, Billy, for your friendship, your podcast abilities, Brian, for your podcast and technical abilities. I mean, I’m enjoying getting to know you as well and thanks for having me.
Brian: Thank you.
Billy: So, for Brian, for Teresa, this is Billy, thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. May you feel happy, healthy, and loved. Take care, friends.