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  • Kim Meninger

The Power of Vulnerability

Updated: May 12, 2023

The Power of Vulnerability


In this episode of the Impostor Syndrome Files, we talk about the power of vulnerability. Most of us don’t feel comfortable being vulnerable when we feel like an impostor. We look around and think that everyone else has it all figured out. So, we wear our masks and pretend that everything is fine. My guest this week, Kris Kelso, author of the book, Overcoming the Impostor, shares his perspective on vulnerability and how it can help us normalize impostor syndrome, create safer spaces for those around us and help us to better trust the compliments we receive.

About My Guest

Kris Kelso is a keynote speaker, entrepreneur, and is the author of “Overcoming The Impostor: Silence Your Inner Critic and Lead with Confidence“. Trained and certified as an executive coach, Kris has worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs, business owners, and their leadership teams. He is a faculty instructor at the Professional Christian Coaching Institute, an advisor and instructor at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, and is a contributing writer for publications including Fast Company MagazineYahoo Finance, and The Nashville Business Journal.

Kris has founded multiple companies and has served on the boards of directors of several non-profit organizations. He is an active member of Cornerstone Nashville, where he serves, teaches, and coaches other leaders. He lives with his wife and three teenaged sons in a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee.

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Transcript:

Kim Meninger Welcome, Kris. It’s been such a pleasure chatting with you before we hit the record button. I can’t wait to continue it now and I’d love to start by inviting you to introduce yourself.

Kris Kelso Yeah, thanks a lot, Kim. I’m really glad to be here. And my name is Kris Kelso, as you’ve said, and I have been an entrepreneur for the majority of my career, I founded and run two different companies. And more recently, I’ve been working independently as a leadership coach, and doing team health work mostly with entrepreneurial companies. So one on one coaching, team facilitation. And then about a year and a half ago, I published a book on impostor syndrome called Overcoming the Imposter, which is what led to you and I being connected and starting to have this conversation. And so this has been a topic that of course, I’ve started talking about more and more, as that has come out.

Kim Meninger Well, I really want to dive into how you got here. So you mentioned being an entrepreneur for most of your career. Were you working in leadership development in those spaces? Or what, what kind of work, entrepreneurial work were you doing? And how did the impostor syndrome figure into your career?

Kris Kelso Yeah, my career has been a sort of a twisty windy road through a couple of different domains, if you will. I was in the music industry very briefly. That’s how I ended up in Nashville, Tennessee, where, where I live today. I then transitioned into technology and was a web developer or a software developer and did a lot in healthcare with data and technology, IT systems and was managing a team, a couple of teams of developers, when I sort of got the itch to go out and start my own business. And this is something that early on, I had for years said, I never wanted to own a business, never wanted the headaches and the risks and the things, you know, entrepreneurship just did not seem appealing to me. And it was as if one day I woke up, and nothing else made sense. I just couldn’t imagine going and applying for another job or working for another large company. I just wanted to be on my own, I wanted to control my own destiny. And so I started my own consulting firm initially, about 17/18 years ago, and but one of the, one of the pieces of my background, which is where the impostor syndrome sort of comes in, is that I never went to college, I don’t have a college degree, never attended college. In fact that that music part of my background, I spent most of my college years touring with a band all over the country. And, and so when I started my first business, I had no business training whatsoever. And I literally went to a Barnes and Noble bookstore and just walked around and bought a stack of books covering anything I thought I needed to know to start a business — marketing, sales, contracts, finance, I just bought this big stack of books and just went home and read them all, and filed an LLC and kind of got off and running. And so for those first couple of years, especially, I really had this persistent fear that there was some critical thing about running a business that I didn’t know that, that one day I would be sitting in a meeting with a bunch of educated business people. And there would be some model or principle that was taught on the very first day of business school that would come up in conversation, and I would have no idea what it was about. And everybody would look at me with this, you know, horrified look on their face, like how can you not know this and I would be outed as a fraud. Right. And this is, and at the time, I had no idea that that was a thing. I didn’t, I’d never heard of impostor syndrome. I wasn’t familiar with it. But I, I really wrestled with this fear that I was going to make the mistake that was going to sabotage me, that was going to be the critical error that would end my career. For those first few years and in truth, I had a lot of success in the first few years of my business. It went really, really well. But I was just figuring it out as I went, I was just learning on the fly, learning as I, as I went. And that has benefited me in a lot of ways in hindsight, but at the time, of course, it was quite scary sometimes.

Kim Meninger And as somebody who can really relate to that story, too, because I never had aspirations of being an entrepreneur. I always thought I was going to be in a… once I, once I entered the corporate world, I thought that was my destiny and I was just going to continue to climb as far as I could within that model. And I had similar you know, fears I guess you could say anxieties around am I missing something? Who am I to be a business? But I think one thing that I have found to be quite liberating is the more time I’ve spent as an entrepreneur, having conversations and being part of brainstorming sessions and strategizing, I realize how much we’re all making it up.

Kris Kelso Yes, we really are. I think one of the traits of a good entrepreneur is that you are able to learn on the fly, you dive in and figure it out as you go. And, and I used to see that as a weakness, like I felt unprepared and unqualified for things because I was learning as I went, rather than having a full education before I got started. And I now have come to realize what a strength that is, because not everybody is good at that, not everybody can do that and can, can just sort of, you know, jump off the cliff and then build the plane on the way down the way that I have been able to do, and others like me. And entrepreneurial people have that skill, and we should think of it as a skill and a gift, not a weakness or a shortcoming.

Kim Meninger I completely agree. And I would translate that even into a more traditional corporate environment, because I think that there is a lot of tension between the push for innovation and creativity that we see within the workplace these days, right, with companies trying, yeah, and then the individual professionals feeling like there’s one right way to do the job and worrying that they’re not doing it that way. And so those same entrepreneurial skills that we’re talking about using in our own businesses can really serve you in the workplace as well. And I think, you know, we’re so afraid of getting it wrong, so afraid of making a mistake, when in actuality, in order to be that much more innovative and to keep pushing forward, the same strengths and capabilities are what it’s going to take to get us there.

Kris Kelso Yes, I agree. 100% I, I think that something about perhaps our education system has conditioned us to think that you have to, you have to know what you’re doing and you have to be fully qualified, you have to sort of pass the test before you start to do something. But if you, if you go back to your early childhood, like I’m talking about before you can remember right that when you were an infant, when you were a toddler, when you were really in those early learning years, you learned mostly by trying things, you learn, you learn how do you learn to walk? Well, you pull up on a piece of furniture and you, you sort of push yourself around, and then you take a few steps and you fall over and you start to figure out what balance is. And I mean, this is just how we are naturally wired to learn. But then something along the way sort of beats that out of us. And we start to think that the learning process, learning and doing are two separate things and that you learn first and then you do. And I think that’s wrong, I think that you learn best by doing and you learn best by experimenting, failing, making mistakes, the trial and error. I work with a guy named Christopher McCluskey. He’s the founder of the professional Christian Coaching Institute, and I’m on faculty there. And he has a phrase that I often quote, he says that the real learning of anything begins when we start doing it. And I think that is so true. And even in corporate America, even in, you know, a professional job, we’ve got to break this mindset that you have to understand it fully, you have to know it all, you have to have all the answers before you’re qualified to get started and start to embrace more of that experimental trial and error learning by doing sort of approach to things.

Kim Meninger I could not agree with you more and I guess one question I have for you, given that you are working with organizations and teams, how important is it that the environment influence that right? How important is this the environment be structured in such a way as to make it safe for people to do that? Do you think this is more of people responding to their environment? Or do you think that I guess I’ll stop there and see what…

Kris Kelso Yeah, you’re, you’re hitting the nail on the head that the environment is critical for this because the culture of an organization and in particular the behavior of the leadership will set the tone for what is considered to be acceptable, what is considered to be celebrated and encouraged and what is frowned upon. And so if the leadership is A unwilling to admit when they make a mistake, B is intolerant of mistakes of others. Are people and C is unwilling themselves to step out and try something, even when they’re not sure how it’s going to turn out, or they’re not sure if they’re going to be successful. If the leadership is, is demonstrating that kind of mindset, then you’re going to create fear in the organization that people are not going to want to take a risk, they’re not going to want to try anything until they’re the certainty of success is absolute. Because they’re gonna, they feel like failure, or a mistake, is a fatal flaw and that they’re going to be punished and possibly terminated, you know, from an employment standpoint for, for making some mistake. But if a leader can demonstrate that experimental trial and error and learning through trial mindset and be willing to step up and say, Hey, I tried something, and it didn’t work out, I was wrong. But here’s what I learned in the process, here’s what we can learn from this experiment. If they set that tone in that example, then other people in the organization are going to feel a lot more comfortable with doing the same thing with, with trying things and making mistakes, but learning along the way, and the organization will learn the sort of sum total of the knowledge of the organization is going to expand a lot faster, when people feel comfortable with making mistakes.

Kim Meninger And I think your, your point about the education system really resonates with me too, because I do think that there’s a lot that, there’s a lot that’s good about it too, but there’s a lot that absolutely inside our head, and makes us a lot less willing to take risks a lot more self. Oh, and I think back to your example of when you’re watching young children learn to walk right, I think that one of the differences there is that usually there are people around them that are clapping and celebrating every step.

Kris Kelso Yes, you know, and right, celebrating the steps and encouraging them when they fall and you can do it. And that’s, that’s exactly right. The, the people around them. Can you imagine if a parent, you know, scolded their child when they fell over trying to learn how to walk like what that would do to that to that kid and their, their learning journey that they would, they would, you know, shirk back instead of taking bigger and bolder risks? And so we need to encourage that in, in our employees and our teams.

Kim Meninger So I’m curious, you when you talked about your journey, and especially in the early days feeling like an impostor and not knowing it was a thing? How did you navigate that? And how did you get to the point where you decided I’m gonna write a book about this?

Kris Kelso Yeah. So I learned about impostor syndrome as a, you know, as a thing, many years later, after running a couple of different companies. And when I was actually in a conversation with an executive coach, and I’ve had several, that this idea came up, and it was like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders to realize, oh, this is a thing, and other people deal with it. And, you know, psychologists have sort of, you know, identified it, and there’s people talking about it. Just learning about it was such a relief and such a help. And now, I’ve had that experience with a lot of people, when I explain it for the first time to someone who, who’s never heard of it before. They’re like, Oh, my goodness, I’m so glad you said that. I thought it was just me, that’s probably the most common phrase by a person who learns about impostor syndrome for the first time, and I thought it was just me. And so I started when I learned about this, I started just talking about it, because, you know, I work with a lot of entrepreneurs, especially now as a leadership coach. And, and I was in even when I was running a business, I was in entrepreneurial communities and, and connecting with a lot of people. And so I just I started talking about this is what I’m learning. And this is so helpful. And the response that I was getting, was telling me that a this is a widespread and pervasive issue, lots of people deal with it, and be not enough people are talking about it. The sinister thing I think about impostor syndrome is that it does make you feel like you’re the only one. You feel like everyone else has it together. And I don’t. And I can’t let anyone know that I feel that way. So it becomes this sort of self-reinforcing problem when you don’t talk about it, because you feel very alone. And so, the first time I spoke about it on a stage, the first time I got it at a conference and talked about impostor syndrome, I had a successful business owner, come to me after I was done talking and say, You changed my life today. The whole reason I’m here is I needed to hear that, thank you so much. And so I kept getting this feedback that I had struck a nerve and Um, one other thing that I, I often do is I’m constantly reading and recommending books I, you know, with my clients and with fellow business leaders and entrepreneurs, if, if you’ve got a marketing challenge, I know a great marketing book. And if you’re struggling with finances and, and you know, the, the bottom line of your business, well, I’ve got a great book on finance and profit in this. So I’m recommending books all the time. In fact, I have a mailing list where I send out book summaries, three a week of great business books. And but I searched and looked for a book on about impostor syndrome that I could recommend to people like me, and to my tribe, to entrepreneurs, innovators, risk takers. And though there’s been a lot written about impostor syndrome, before much of it has been written either specifically to women, or to younger people, college-age students sort of talking about entering the workforce. And there’s been sort of these niche themes. But there wasn’t a book that I felt really spoke to me and spoke to my tribe. And so eventually, Kim, it just became sort of a compulsion. This book needed to exist, and it didn’t, I couldn’t find it. So I had to write it. And, and I don’t enjoy writing. I’m not a person that just loves to write and, you know, blogs for fun and things like that. But I literally just felt like this needs to exist. And so I had to write it. And that’s exactly what I did.

Kim Meninger And I really want to spend a moment acknowledging what you and I talked about offline, which is that you’re a white man. Right? And I think the conversation around impostor syndrome has been focused on women, on people of color. I think that’s one, I certainly get the same response that you do have, oh, think of this as a thing, right? When I talk about yeah, yeah, one of the things that often surprises women, too, is that it affects men as well. So can you talk about how important it is for us to recognize that this is like a gender-agnostic issue, and that not specific to any one population of people?

Kris Kelso It is, and I have both spoken anecdotally and myself to people across almost every continent, and across lots of cultures, I have active groups of people that I’m group coaching in Africa and other areas of the world. And as well as multiple studies that I’ve looked at that have shown that it affects men and women equally, and it affects the population generally, almost equally, it’s just the one difference I have seen is that women tend to be more willing to talk about it. So it feels like it affects women more because they do talk about it a little bit more. But the phenomenon itself is sort of gender-neutral. It’s not a, it’s not a women’s problem. It’s a human problem. And so, you know, I’ll give you one example, when I was writing the book, the book is full of stories, I collected lots of stories of entrepreneurs and business leaders. And as I was writing the book, and going through the editing process with my publisher, the publisher came back and said, Hey, I noticed you’ve got, you know, a lot of these stories, and many of them are men, and you’ve got some that are women as well. And, and I think we should this, this one particular story, it was about a chairman of a bank. So maybe we should make this one a female because we were changing names and circumstances to protect people’s identities anyway. So maybe we should make this one a woman, you know, so that there’s sort of a high powered a woman in this in the book, and it’s not, you know, and I said, No, absolutely not. I said, the reason why I want to leave that as a man is because, because it has been sort of there has been this misconception that it’s mostly women and mostly women in leadership, or women ascending to leadership, that struggle with this. And I want my readers to know that men struggle with this too, I would be doing a disservice to the women reading my book, if I changed that from a man to a woman to sort of placate the gent, you know, to try to balance out the number of male and female stories in the book, and not let them know that. Here’s a chairman of a major bank that is a white male, that struggles with impostor syndrome, but it happens. And so, you know, I probably should have actually, that’s a really good answer. You should, you should share that because that’s, that’s a good way to look at it is I want to be real and honest. And this is another reason why I felt like I needed to write this book. Because I wanted people to hear from, to hear a male voice, a successful man in business in leadership, who’s a willing to say, Hey, I struggle with insecurity. I’m battled that, that voice that inner critic that tries to tell me that I’m not good enough. And it’s a, it’s a common thing that we all wrestle with at some point in our career.

Kim Meninger So I think that’s so important. One of the things that I often talk about, and this goes back to what you were saying earlier of that idea that we often think we’re the only ones and we carry it around like a deep, dark secret, which just fuels it and doesn’t allow us to get the support that can help us to better navigate it. And so, I wonder, because men are less likely to talk about it. And because we have different stereotypes that dictate expectations around different behaviors. Sometimes what I share with people when I’m speaking about it is just because somebody looks like they’re confident doesn’t mean that they are right. And just as you are hiding your own insecurities, everyone around you is doing the same thing. And so I wonder if you have insights into how we can better manage this as individuals, and then also in support of one another?

Kris Kelso Yeah. So one of the keys that I really uncovered and that I share in the book is the power and the importance of vulnerability. And really, the, the ironic thing about impostor syndrome is that it is the fear of vulnerability. It’s the fear that if, if people figure out what I really am, that they’re not going to respect me, that I’m going to lose credibility, that I’m going to lose position, you know, that there are going to be consequences there. But the irony is that vulnerability is the solution. Opening up and getting vulnerable is what helps you to overcome impostor syndrome. And, and I share a lot of illustrations and examples as to why this is. But what I’ve really started to realize is that we need to be part of community, we need to be connected to one another, we need to be with other people that we can share the burden and learn from and grow with, and those kind of things. But if you are in a community where vulnerability is not the norm, where everyone has their mask on, where everybody is sort of putting their best foot forward and is only showing the best side of themselves and their work and their business and their projects, that community is going to feed your impostor syndrome, community without vulnerability will feed your imposter syndrome, it’ll make it worse. But community with vulnerability will starve it community with vulnerability where people are willing to get real, where when you say, I’m struggling with something other people say, You know what, I struggle with that too, or, you know, that’s not my challenge. But here’s my struggle. And if I help you with yours, maybe you can help me with mine. And we can work together. And if you’re in a community where vulnerability and opening up is, is the norm, then that’s really going to help you to realize that, that the struggles you face are struggles that other people have faced for many years before you and are facing today alongside you, and that you know that there are solutions to overcoming these things. And so what I’ve learned to do now is to use vulnerability as a test. When I join a new community, when I’m introduced to a new group, or I’m in a new organization, or I’m just, you know, speaking to a new group of people, one of the things I’ll do is I’ll intentionally open up about something, I’ll intentionally and early share something that I’m wrestling with in real-time, like something I’m working on right now, or something I don’t quite have under control or feel like I’ve mastered yet. And I’ll look to see how they respond. And the way that they respond tells me whether this is a healthy community that can help me or whether this is maybe a community that is not going to help my confidence in a community where I’m going to have to be guarded because they’re all guarded. And honestly, those communities where you have to keep your guard up, I just, I just don’t really want to spend too much time with those communities. I want to be among people, that can be real, because I know what that does for me, and I know how much more I can help them at the same time. So, so I started to use vulnerability as actually a test. And I’ve and I’ve learned that, you know, the amount of vulnerability just like we talked about in an organization that the leader has to demonstrate that vulnerability and has to set the tone and the culture or it’s not going to be healthy. In any kind of community in any kind of organization where you’re networking and interacting with people. The amount of vulnerability that is acceptable and is sort of the norm there’s going to be Determine whether the community is going to help or hurt your confidence in this area.

Kim Meninger I love the idea of a vulnerability test. Because when you first started talking, my mind immediately went to well, how do you know that?

Kris Kelso How do you know? Yes.

Kim Meninger So I think it’s such a great idea for everyone to think about that. And to be strategically vulnerable, right? You don’t want to do anything upfront, but to test the waters a bit to see. And I really love what you talk about, which I think about as the self-empowerment piece, we have choices. And if you’re in an environment where you can’t be vulnerable, if you’re in an environment with people who don’t believe it’s okay to make mistakes, or don’t take accountability for their own behaviors, that that’s not a place you have to stay that there might hurt, it is available.

Kris Kelso Yes, most of the time, you can make a change, or at least limit the amount of investment and the amount of yourself that you’re willing to give to that particular community. And I’m not going to pretend that that vulnerability test is not risky. Right? To put yourself out there to share something before you’ve gotten to know people, you know, before you really know whether how they’re going to respond. It is absolutely a risk. But I have found that the reward the payoff, of knowing early, whether that community is going to be helpful or not, it’s worth the risk. And you know, very seldom have I regretted, have I truly regretted sharing something in a situation like that, because even if they don’t respond the way I hope that they will, they’ve told me something that I need to know about that group. So the learning that I get, and the and the red flag that goes off pretty quickly is worth the risk that I took to share something, you know, that could be potentially embarrassing, or, or you know, might, I suppose might be used against me with the person from the person with the wrong intentions, but that rarely happens.

Kim Meninger And I like to think of that as data, right? When you put yourself out there the response is the data that you get in response, either way, right? Whether [Yeah], you want it or not? And I’m curious because there’s no, there’s no perfect answer to this question. But I’m just curious how you think about this because one of the things that I’m thinking as you’re talking about this is maybe there is a culture that hasn’t felt safe to be vulnerable yet because nobody’s tried it. And then where does influence play a role here? Because I can also imagine a scenario in which you do the vulnerability tests, and everyone’s sort of a deer in the headlights. Because, wow, are we really doing this? Is this what’s going to happen? There’s more opportunity there than might be visible. But you might have to work a little bit harder to get below this.

Kris Kelso Yeah. Yeah, it’s an interesting question. When do you try to create that vulnerability? When do you work against the lack of vulnerability? Versus when do you sort of pull out and say, This is not worth my time? My effort? I guess that’s sort of a, an individual and situational decision. Am I here to be an influence in this community? Or am I here just looking to connect and, and gain something from this community? What, what’s the possibility here? If I have a positive influence? Versus what, what? How much work is it going to take to push that water uphill? So to speak? Right. So yeah, that’s an, that’s a really interesting question that I’ll admit, I haven’t hadn’t really thought about. But, but I’ll be chewing on that a little bit is when, when How do you know when to make the investment? And it and you said the word influence? And I think that probably comes down? That’s probably a big factor is, Do I have a lot of influence here? Or am I going to be, you know, sort of just absorbed into the culture that already exists? That I can’t change? So maybe it depends on how you’re introduced? Are you being introduced to the community as some sort of thought leader, some sort of expert? Are you being brought in for a particular reason? Or are you just, you know, an average person kind of coming in the door and putting in feelers and that that may determine whether you have enough influence to actually move the culture or whether you’re just going to get absorbed into it?

Kim Meninger That’s a really great point. And I wholeheartedly agree with you on it has to be a personal decision. Because, you know, some people like that pioneer role of trying to change the system from within other people, not so much.

Kris Kelso Right? Right. And some communities are valuable enough to invest in the change. And others you say, You know what, I can find something else to serve the same to meet the same need for me that I’m not going to have this up No battle. So you have to make that decision on a case by case basis.

Kim Meninger I agree. I think that’s a great way to think about it. And I have another question for you. There’s a little bit of a twist because we tend to talk a lot about how do I manage my own impostor syndrome. But one of the questions I get a lot is What if I work for an imposter? Or what if I’ve worked with somebody who struggles with impostor syndrome, and there’s a sensitivity there? Obviously, you don’t want to diagnose somebody, you don’t want to go up and say, Yeah, I’m an impostor syndrome. Right? And I wonder, I mean, certainly, I think vulnerability would play a role here, too, and giving people the safety to share their own story. But are there any other strategies that you would recommend for just being more supportive in an environment where you see other people who struggle with this?

Kris Kelso Well, I think I think you’ve hit the, the primary one, which is to be vulnerable yourself to sort of lead by example. And to open up, a story that comes to mind is when I was I was meeting with a young entrepreneur who was kind of telling me the great story of his company, and he really sort of had the mask on and was, you know, given me the sales pitch, and I could just sense that there was some stress behind the scenes and, and so I just started sharing some of my background and my entrepreneurial story, but I got really honest with him about some of my struggles, and what was really hard and where some of my fears were and, and the things I was unsure about, and him, he teared up, he literally started to cry. And he said, Kris, this is the first real conversation I’ve had with anyone about how hard this is. Because he was, he was running a startup, and he had raised some money, and he had all this pressure. And he, he was relatively young, just a few years out of college. And so with, with a lot of success had come a lot of pressure. And there wasn’t anybody around him that was really acknowledging that pressure. He was just sort of doing the dance with all the other entrepreneurs he had seen and trying to, to fake it as best he could and to act like all of the confidence that he thought he saw around him. And when I opened up, man, it really just set him free. I offered him hope because he felt like, oh, no, here’s a guy who struggled internally but still had some success. And now here’s a story I can really latch on to because I can identify with it. It’s not just all the shiny success stories out there that I’m trying to pretend to be when I know that my journey is not going perfectly behind the scenes. And so really just opening up like that, again, is the most powerful thing that you can do. And I think you’re right, that you shouldn’t necessarily diagnose someone telling someone that you think they have impostor syndrome doesn’t always go very well. But just talking about it for yourself. And this is how I felt, and this is what I learned. And this is this thing that came up and I, you know, just telling your own story, and allowing them to contribute, even if they don’t jump in with both feet, even if they’re a little timid. You’re having an impact, and you’re offering them some ideas and some things to go look at. Maybe they go Google it later, when, when you’re no one’s around, maybe they you know, search for more information and start to learn a little bit, and then maybe they open up to you a little more than next conversation that you have. But yeah, just really sharing your own story. And being as authentic as you can be, is probably the best thing you can do to help them.

Kim Meninger And it just makes me think even more so about the power of vulnerability, not just for ourselves, but it really is a gift to others to that. Yeah, no, yeah, you’re not as motivated to do it for your own sake, do it for the people around you. Because it’s your [yes], no a human need. And it does make a difference.

Kris Kelso It is as I have learned about that power of vulnerability, both as a test like we talked about before, but also the value that the way it helps somebody in that story that I just shared, I look for opportunities to be vulnerable, I try to lead with vulnerability because it’s so powerful and so valuable. And here’s the third way that vulnerability is really powerful is when I’m vulnerable. And then people respect me, compliment me appreciate me. I can more readily accept those compliments. I actually believe it because they’re complimenting or they’re respecting or admiring the truth about me, not some facade. So I started to be vulnerable to help others when I started realizing that power and how valuable it is, you know, to extend that lifeline to someone else. But then at the end of that I encounter when that young man, you know, thanked me and told me that he admired me and he appreciated me. And I’m thinking, I just told you my insecurities and my fears and, and the struggles that I had. And now you say, you respect me and admire me. It’s hard for me to refute that, the same way that I can when I’ve only given one someone the sales pitch version of my life, story and career. And they say, Wow, you’ve accomplished some great things. And I can easily walk away and say, Yeah, but you don’t know the whole story. You don’t know the truth, right? So we can dismiss those compliments when they’re based on a facade, but when you’re vulnerable, and then you get respect. You really feel that respect, and it’s so much more gratifying. And it’s truly confidence-building. So it helps you and reinforces that confidence.

Kim Meninger That is such an amazing point. Because you’re absolutely right. I think we hear a compliment and think, Well, he doesn’t know the real story, right? But you told them the real story, and they still compliment you. You’re right. That’s really hard to push back on.

Kris Kelso It really is.

Kim Meninger Yeah. Wow. I? Well, I know, you wrote a whole book on this. So I’m sure we could talk all day, Kris. But I wanted to just as we’re getting short on time here, ask Is there anything else that you think is important to share before we wrap up for today, and then I also want to make sure that everyone knows where to find you.

Kris Kelso You know, I’ll touch on one last thing, because you mentioned we’re talking about compliments. And one of the symptoms of impostor syndrome is the inability to accept a compliment at face value. And, you know, when someone pays you a compliment, I’m I heard your podcast, it was really great. I really enjoyed it. You’re a great interviewer. And, you know, the temptation the thing that, well, I’ll just say that I do, maybe not anyone else, but the thing that I do is deflect that compliment with sarcasm, or downplay it or dismiss it or, you know, make a joke. And sort of while in a way, I have a friend who’s a really good writer, and he’s sold, he’s written multiple number-one bestsellers. But when someone compliments his writing, he’ll say something like, oh, you and my mom must be my two readers, you know on that. And, you know, he has this sort of standard joke. And I hear that so often. And that is sort of a symptom of imposter syndrome is just not being able to accept the compliment. But here’s the, here’s the nugget. And the challenge that I’ll give your listeners as a parting thought is when someone pays you a compliment, and you downplay it or deflect it, you’re actually insulting that person. They’ve just handed you a gift. And you looked at the gift and said, it’s not really worth all that much. And you tossed it aside. And, and you’ve essentially said that either their opinion is not valid, or they don’t know what they’re talking about. Or their standards are really low. And so we don’t mean it that way. We think of it as being humble or being you know, contrived or, you know, trying not to be full of pride or whatever. But it can actually unintentionally be insulting. So I want to challenge people listening out there the next time someone compliments you. They tell you, you did a great job, they love your work. I really enjoyed your podcast Kim, that interview with Kris was awesome. You asked amazing questions. You know, whatever they say, just, just look him in the eye and say thank you. I really, I worked really hard on that. And it’s nice to know that my work is appreciated. And just leave it at that. No qualifications, no jokes, no deflection, just accept it and own it. Imagine that they’ve just handed you a gift. And tell them how much you appreciate. Even if you don’t want the gift. Even if you’re not going to use the gift. Tell them how much you appreciate the thoughtfulness of that gift.

Kim Meninger That is such a powerful way for us to wrap up. You’re absolutely right. It really is insulting to the person who is giving you that compliment. So what a great way to think about that. Thank you so much, Chris. If people want to find your book want to find you Where can they find you?

Kris Kelso Yeah, I am easy to find online. If you remember that. My name starts with a K. K R IS Kelso K E L S O. So you can find me at kriskelso.com. You can find my books specifically at overcoming the imposter.com. It’s also available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble. Any local bookstore should be able to order it if they don’t have it in stock. But overcomingtheimposter.com, kriskelso.com and I’m Kris Kelso on most of the social media platforms as well.

Kim Meninger Well, thank you so much, Kris. This has been such a great conversation.

Kris Kelso Yeah, I’ve enjoyed it. Kim, thank you for having me on. I really appreciate it and I enjoyed spending time together.

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