Welcome to The Impostor Syndrome Files! Today, Kim is joined by Lynn Whitbeck to discuss having the power to choose. Lynn shares her experience with impostor syndrome and how she’s helped others overcome it. In this episode, Lynn shares powerful insights about impostor syndrome and how choosing to take small steps can help us conquer it. She shares how identification and taking action can help us to manage the generalized anxiety that often accompanies impostor syndrome. Be sure to stay tuned as there’s a lot to learn from this episode!
How it affects you:
Lynn shares that she was first introduced to impostor syndrome when her daughter had a conversation with her about “not having a seat at the table”. Understanding a different perspective made her realize that impostor syndrome is when one’s self-worth is being attacked in a way. Realizing this, Lynn spoke to her team and found out that they were exhibiting it to some extent, impacting their careers, relationships, and life in general as well.
Choosing to move forward from where you are:
Impostor syndrome often comes with generalized anxiety. Not being able to think straight when you’re being filled with doubts is natural. So, Lynn’s tip is to break down your anxiety into smaller details and find out where you can work on yourself to move forward and re-frame the thoughts that are holding you back. The reason why there’s fear is that you know there’s something you do not know how to do, and it’ll always be your decision to learn new things and give yourself the chance to both fail and succeed. Nothing can ever change, of course, if you don’t embrace the ability, the power to take action, and change course.
About Lynn Whitbeck:
Lynn Whitbeck is the Founder and CEO of Petite2Queen and Future Forward Sales. She helps the world by providing sales and leadership training programs to achieve more, faster. Lynn is the catalyst for businesses to turn their sales teams into revenue-generating champions.
With her crew, Lynn’s strategic sales training program helps organizations achieve the expanded revenue and business growth that happens when their sales team learns to capitalize on every lead. The powerful live training delivers immediate results in easy shifts, shortens the sales cycle, builds stronger relationships, and closes more sales.
Lynn is the co-author of the highly regarded book, Practical Wisdoms @ Work. This quick-read guide provides insights to navigate situations, challenges, and opportunities that arise every day in business. Teaching you how to broaden your career with skills that will set you apart.
You may have seen Lynn in USA Today, HuffPost, Chicago Tribune, and more! ~
Outline of the Episode:
[02:46] About Lynn Whitbeck and imposter syndrome [06:14] Understanding the underlying fear [10:03] Growth mindset versus fixed mindset [14:46] The inspire method [20:31] Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable [23:07] Benefits of giving yourself permission to fail [27:14] Lynn’s tip on overcoming the fear
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Kim Meninger Welcome, Lynn. I am really looking forward to having this conversation with you today, and before we jump in, I would love to invite you to introduce yourself to us.
Lynn Whitbeck Ah, Hi Kim. I am so thrilled to be here. Thank you so much for having me on your show. For everyone out there. My name is Lynn Whitbeck. I am the founder and CEO of Petite2Queen and Future Forward Sales. And what we do is we help the world by providing training programs for sales and leadership. I believe that sales is leadership. And it’s a way to help lift us all up into those incredible career positions. And, you know, one of the things we definitely encounter along the road is impostor syndrome. So I’m just super excited to be here and talk to you about this very important subject.
Kim Meninger Thank you. Yes. And impostor syndrome is definitely a big piece of the leadership conversation and sales as well. So I think you’re a great person for us to be talking with today. And I love to start just with my general questions that I ask, which are, you know, what does impostor syndrome mean to you? And how, if at all, has it shown up in your own career in your life?
Lynn Whitbeck Well, it absolutely has, it’s, it’s something that we’ve taken on as a topic ourselves, and how it showed up in our is through my team members. And so one of the things that when we were first discussing, putting together articles, and then we have a webinar, and then eventually a course on impostor syndrome. And we’re going through this, one of the things that struck me was that I just wasn’t getting it. And my daughter, who is just an amazing young woman, she sent me, she, she took me aside and she, she’s not involved in the company at all. She’s, she’s working on NASA satellites, but she said to me, you know, when have you ever felt that you didn’t deserve a seat at the table? And I was like, well, never. She said, Exactly. Because people who have impostor syndrome, don’t believe they have a seat at the table. And so suddenly, I was able to see and understand, you know, then that different perspective and prism, you know, really rotating around shaking my own paradigm, that self-doubt, which is certainly part of impostor syndrome. But it’s not the same thing. Impostor syndrome is truly where you there is an element of self-worth. That’s being attacked in a way. I mean, and these are, in many, it’s a self-limiting belief. But this is something that it’s very real. And it’s how do you get away, a path out? How do you find your way out? So that really just was so illuminating to me. And then all of a sudden, everything that I was working on with my team clicked into place, because every one of them was exhibiting a form of impostor syndrome. And they all recognized that they had it, you know, to some extent, and so that was why it was such an important topic for them that they wanted to get it out there and really, you know, just lean on, let’s not stop thinking of this as something that is bad, or it’s like something they can just turn off. Or that it’s, you know that there’s shame associated with it because that’s not the case. This is very real. And it’s something that directly impacts every aspect of our lives, not just our careers, but our relationships, our friendships. And so it’s, it’s really so important that people make that, those first steps to recognize, you know, what elements that they have so that they can move, start to move forward because it’s baby steps all the way along the road.
Kim Meninger Absolutely. And I love how you talk about the broader effects of impostor syndrome, too – impacts on career, impacts on relationships. And the unfortunate thing about it is, if you don’t know what it is, and you don’t have the level of self-awareness, to challenge those limiting beliefs, to challenge what you’re telling yourself. So you don’t even necessarily know that it is something that can be challenged, that it is something that, an experience that can be managed in some way. Right. So part of it is just realizing what’s going on so that you can then take more intentional action around it.
Lynn Whitbeck Absolutely. The most important thing for all of us whenever we’re going through these methods of growing to, to unlearn, and relearn and move our, you know, make this choice to follow a new path, that first thing is to get into that introspection, and to spend some time in that space so that you understand some of the underlying things that are going on. And that you, you start to recognize them, and so that you can start working on them. And sometimes it may be one thing that you recognize, and you can say, Okay, this is an area of fear for me, what’s motivating that fear, what’s driving that fear, what’s really going on. And then from there, you start working on that, and every time you go through these areas of introspection because even if you don’t have impostor syndrome, you could have extreme self-doubt around something. And I can give you an example. So when I started Petite2Queen, I was absolutely used to standing up and having meetings as I presented at conferences, at huge events that I had been, and, but I wasn’t used to doing like, one on one video interviews or being on Facebook Lives. And it was new to me. And my first thing was that I put up this barrier, that well, I’m not an actress, I can’t do this. And, and then I had to say, Well, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute, where’s this negativity coming from, what’s going on? There’s nothing I can’t do, you know, I have this whole Kimpossible moment, you know, I can do anything. So it was like, Okay, I need to understand where those feelings are coming from, I need to really process them. So that I can, I can dig, dig it up, dig out this Bitter Root, and be able to recognize it and discard it. And so I started working on that. And it was this piece of trying to memorize this. And it came from even this experience I had in middle school of doing like a play type thing. And so I just started to work on that. And I went, you know, I can learn how to do this. And I’m never going to be an actress. That’s not who I am. But I can get a lot better. So this is just a skill, at the end of the day, a skill I need to learn. So I started down that journey of learning the skill, and I have to say, I’ve gotten better and better. I’m not great, okay. I, it’s you know, but I do, okay, you know, and every time I get better, but it’s that, that it took me that moment to really dig in myself, dig deep, to understand the fear, where it was coming from, so that I could start to address it. And one of the things I did is I wrote myself an affirmation, which I think are just brilliant. But I just was like, this is a skill that I can learn, just like all the other skills that I have learned and continued to learn in my career and in my life. And I just would say that I always go through about around three affirmations that I say every morning, as soon as I wake up, there’s one I still use every day. And it’s I have so many things I get to do today, you know, that just puts that positive spin on my day. And then I have two that I’m working on. And then once I feel that I’ve really overcome that area. There’s always something that I can start working on.
Kim Meninger I love so much of what you’re saying. And I think what you’re making me think about too is the growth mindset versus the fixed mindset. Because you were talking a little bit about even using language like I can’t do this, right? And yes, and that, just the way that we tell ourselves, I can’t do this is such a fixed mindset. We couldn’t do a lot of things when we were born or when we were younger, when we were starting out our careers, right, there are a lot of things that we couldn’t do at one point that we can now. And so reframing that in the way that you’re talking about, it’s not that I can’t do it. It’s, it’s something that I haven’t learned yet, but I can and it’s a powerful reframe to be able to say, and you know, I think about this a lot of just adding the word yet, right. I can’t do it yet, but I can learn it.
Lynn Whitbeck Yeah, and, and that is so important because that we have so many negative thoughts that are naturally forming in our brain. It’s part of our survival instinct. But what we have to do is really get a handle on that. So that instead of, that’s why I start my day every day is I have so many things I get to do today because I started on that positive note and I find that it really helps me stay all the way through it. And so I, and it’s so important that we really look for that because that positivity is a huge, enormous asset. And it helps us from falling into the negativity trap. And what I call this, this downward spiral of a just a cyclone of despair. So it’s more than anything, finding that, that way that you can introduce that into your life and start recognizing, when you are doing that, when you’re that negative voice. Negative Nelly, I like to call her or negative Ned is in your head. And there are a lot of things that you can do to help yourself. Recognize that one of the simplest things is it sounds gonna sound silly, but you put a rubber band around your, your, your wrist – one of those, like fat ones that they come with, like vegetables or something, and you put it on your wrist. And when you hear yourself, either thinking, or saying something negative, especially about yourself and your capabilities, you give yourself a snap. And it’s, and it’s like, okay, wait a minute, it’s like, let’s, it sounds like, pause, let me take that, take two seconds here to recognize, I just put forth a negative thought out in the world, I can do this, I just need to learn how or I need someone to help me understand what I need to do. It could be some type of task at work. And it’s like, okay, I don’t have enough information. How do I get that information? Who do I talk to? You know, how can I acquire that information? So it, it suddenly you can help pivot? Right, in that moment. You’re thinking, and so I’ve used this rubber band. In my, in my career and through, its sounds absolutely silly, but it’s so basic, but it just literally gives you that sharp attention like well, okay, and let’s set that tone. So you can stop and say, okay, sort of like the, the little water shooter for the dog. So the cats?
Kim Meninger Yes, yes. Because you’re absolutely right, it all starts with the awareness piece. And we’re not, we’re not noticing how often that we’re talking to ourselves in certain ways. So if we can use a strategy that brings our awareness to how we’re talking to ourselves, right, then what you’ve introduced is an opportunity to then say, How do I think differently about this? Or what, what’s the action I can take to achieve a different outcome?
Lynn Whitbeck Absolutely, I mean, one of the things that we do in our course, is that we go through an automatic thoughts log, where you’re really recording all of your thoughts. So you can start to see a pattern and see what’s happening. Because otherwise, you’re not even consciously aware of it. And that’s the first thing is we’ve got to bring this up to the surface got to bring this to the surface. And once you’ve brought these things to the surface, you can pick one area and our key remember, you don’t eat a meal in one bite or one giant swallow, right, it’s one bite at a time. So then you choose the area that you’re going to start working on first.
Kim Meninger I love that too. Because I do think that impostor syndrome comes with oftentimes, anyway, a lot of generalized anxiety. And so there’s this just general sense of I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t belong here. I don’t deserve to be in this role. And there’s nothing actionable that comes from that mindset. There’s no way to actually problem solve from there. But like you’re saying, if you’re looking at it as something that you do one bite at a time, now you can start to ask yourself more productive questions around, okay, well, if I were to learn this skill, what’s the first step in doing so? Who’s a person that I can reach out to to ask for help, the kinds of the kinds of resources that we can access? That’s all something we can actually do something with.
Lynn Whitbeck Right? Absolutely. And that’s one of the things that, we have something that’s called the Inspire method. And so we go through, you know, these different steps. So that because, in a way, just like self-doubt, impostor syndrome is always going to be there. But you can learn to overcome and manage it very effectively so that it no longer has the same control over yourself. Instead, you have control over it. And so when you go through that, you know, it’s really, some of the things is starting with perfectionism. I’m, you know, imperfect is the first Inspire. Because, you know, that was something that, you know, perfectionism, many of us also struggle with, that if the work isn’t absolutely perfect, then somehow we failed, right? These, these really crazy things that the standards that we inflict upon ourselves. And that was something I had to learn early in my career. And ironically, I learned it completely out of the workplace, it was because I was taking a quilting class. And they talked about having a humility square, because there’s always mistakes, when you’re doing your quilting, and that you have, you, in fact, if your quilt is too perfect, then you need to introduce a square that is imperfect because that’s your humility, square. We’re all human beings, we make mistakes, we’re not perfect. In fact, many of our greatest achievements can come out of the mistakes that we’ve made, or the, you know, the incredible insights or revelations that we can find within come from those mistakes, when you suddenly go, Oh, I’ve been doing it this way. And all of a sudden, I can see that this is the way I need to do it. So you know, you start with that. And that can really help. You know, just get you on that path.
Kim Meninger I love the idea. But humility square, I think that’s, that’s a great symbol that we could use outside of quilting. And, you know, I want to go back for a moment to to one thing that you said earlier that really struck me was the idea of saying, there are so many things I get to do. I find myself falling into this trap too. I have times when my calendar’s really busy. And I think oh my gosh, there’s so much I have to do. And there’s a real opportunity for self-empowerment. And a mindset shift away from almost being a victim or out of control of your own life. Right, that comes with saying, I get to do these things. I’m making a choice I’m, I’m here because I choose to be not because I have to be and that alone brings with it, I think a more positive, more confident mindset,
Lynn Whitbeck Absolutely in the power of choice. That, that’s a, that is I love what you just said there, Kim, because that’s at the crux of everything, you have the power to choose, to choose a new path. And it may not be easy, sometimes we have to travel the long road around to get to a short distance, but we have the choice to start that journey. And sometimes when you look at the big thing, it can be like I just, I can’t even begin to do this, well break it down. People don’t climb a mountain, you know, they don’t go climb Mount Everest, just decide I’m going to go do this. No, it takes, takes months to years of preparation to do that. And so it’s the same thing here. And that each each step along that journey, you’re discovering more about yourself. You’re, it awakens that to your point, this strength within and greater and greater power that you have to choose how and where, you know, you’re going to put forth, you know, your unique wonderfulness out there in the world.
Kim Meninger Absolutely. And, you know, I was talking with someone else recently about this, too, that the strengths that we have are remarkable because we achieve them in spite of the obstacles that we face along the way, right? Or that we, that we work through the obstacles to get to where we are, there’s nothing all that impressive about achieving a goal that is super easy and doesn’t challenge you in some way. Right there. I think where we get stronger as humans and as professionals in whatever role we play in our lives in, in, in relation to others. That comes from testing ourselves and recognizing that we’re capable of more than we think we are and if we always stay within the limits of our comfort zone and things are never hard or scary. How satisfying is that?
Lynn Whitbeck No, you just have to push that, just that that’s a another key thing is getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. I saw there with you Kim, I mean, no matter who you are, you, you get there’s everything. The unknown is everything you don’t have, that’s where it all lives. And so you need to keep pushing those boundaries. And I’m not talking you just go and do something crazy. I mean you do these and you can do these in micro-steps at and small ways, but you keep doing that. And one of the things is I, you, you can get a mindset where people feel like they’re in this, this safe zone or they’ve made a decision, and this is where they need to stay. And they don’t recognize that, you know that it’s not about giving something up. It’s about what you’re going to get in return, when you push yourself a little bit forward. And these can, like I said, Be just micro micro-steps, but each one of those that you take, and then you look back after a few months, and you’re gonna go well, wow. Think of a baby who’s learning to walk, they don’t just stand up and start walking. Oh, they got to learn how to roll over, then they got to learn how to push themselves up. And pretty soon, they’re crawling, and then they’re climbing along, you know, doing the cruising on with holding on to something. And then they’re walking like Frankenstein.
Kim Meninger And they’re not giving up at any of those stages, right? Because imagine if we decided at that point, well, those are just too scary, or I don’t, I don’t deserve to walk.
Lynn Whitbeck It’s all in there. It’s all inside of us. And instead, it’s like, okay, what am I going to get in return? You know, that’s why I need to keep working on this. Because what am I going to get in return? And, you know, let’s move forward in our life, when we were learning to ride a bicycle? Well, what were we gonna get in return? You know, it was because we knew that if we could start riding that bicycle, it gave us as children freedom, to go visit our friend to run around the neighborhood, you know, like, you know, on our bikes. And so once again, every step of the way through our lives, it’s, you know, really think about, not what I’m going to give up, because, you know, like safety or my comfort or that this just, I don’t have to think about this instead, what am I going to get in return, when I start pushing myself just a little bit, for something new for something better?
Kim Meninger I love that. I love thinking about what the benefit is, what’s the return on the, the potential discomfort that comes with getting there, I know me, I often talk about the fact that I have suffered from anxiety for most of my life. And so I, I know that I have the potential, if I allow it, to get stuck in a comfort zone. And because then I feel more in control, and I can avoid those anxious feelings. But I have made the choice instead to I live by Eleanor Roosevelt, quote, do one thing every day that scares you. Because every time I scare myself, I get stronger, right? And taking action makes me feel less anxious. So I feel like for me, what you’re talking about is what will I get in return? Is I get validation that I can do it, get validation that I don’t need to curl up into a ball when things get scary.
Lynn Whitbeck I don’t know. And that’s so important. Because also, not only does it affect you in every aspect of your life to be able to do that. Because and even when, you know, we do make a mistake, it’s to recognize that it wasn’t that, that how we can learn from that. And you know, really giving yourself permission to fail along the way. Because sometimes we’ll gain an insight that we didn’t have from a mistake, and you’re like, Oh, well, that’s something that I’d never thought of. And now I know that I need to mitigate for this, or I need to watch this or I need to do something. So that isn’t, doesn’t repeat, right? And so there’s a lot of ways that you can break things down. So that you can look at well what’s all the positive, that learn that we learned out of this and this is whether at work or at home? And you can say, okay, so what did we learn from this? So let’s say you’re just making a recipe, and that’s a super simple thing. It’s not threatening, right? But you can say, Okay, well, what did we learn? Well, this was there was just too much red pepper flake in the fish tacos. So they were just, they were just way too, you know, you know, wow, when you ate them. So how do we make some adjustments? And because this is something I’ll do on I actually, it took me months to, to come up with my fish taco recipe, but I didn’t look at it as a failure, you know. Instead, I looked at it as I kept narrowing the gap. And every time I made some adjustments, I narrowed the gap, and I learned things through my experimentation. So that’s something that for most people you can, you might be able to see, but you can apply that then at in other ways in every other aspect of your life. So, you know, you make the best decisions, but the facts and figures that you have. And then if things don’t work out at work, you also need to recognize, you know, that moment where, okay, this isn’t working, it doesn’t mean it’s a failure, it just means that we’ve learned something. And we now need to apply that new knowledge so that we can pivot.
Kim Meninger Yes, absolutely. I’m just thinking about all of the great things that you’re saying. And I’m taking notes here, and I’ve got sound bites from you. And, and I’m wondering, if I’m putting myself in the shoes of listeners who may be really nodding their heads with us. And this is really resonating with them in terms of their own experience, what’s the absolute first step you would recommend to somebody who wants to get to this place and this mindset shift that we’re talking about?
Lynn Whitbeck Well, I would say the very first place is to go ahead and keep a log for at least five days on your automatic thoughts on, this is very important. Because, you know, just as you, you know, because thoughts flow in and out of our heads all the time. And that’s an investment in yourself, that’s going to pay huge dividends, because then you can start to look for patterns, that there’s something that you’re, you’re saying to yourself on a fairly regular basis, or some type of thought pattern that you can identify. So that’s a really great place to start. Because when you do that, you’re gonna and then you go, and you look through it, you’re gonna see things that you really hadn’t even you hadn’t consciously been thinking about. Like, boy, I say that an awful lot. And so what am I saying to myself? And then take a moment to consider that what am I saying to myself? And where is that coming from? You know, so that’s really then the next step of going through? Where is that coming from? You know, and really getting into that, where is that coming from? So like I said, that whole thing when I went through that exercise with, well, I can’t do all these video interviews. I don’t know how to do this, I’m not an actress. Well, I started going like, Well, why do I feel this way? And I, I really came back to this experience I had in middle school. It was, it was a negative experience. And so it just, and then I went, you know, what, what would I was 13 years old, you know? It’s like, Hello, how am I not gonna know this at 13? And so but what, what was the good that came out of that experience? What did I gain from that experience? What did I learn and, and, you know, all through my life, I’ve seen that I do have a pattern where I call it I’m a GO FOR IT person. Where I’m, I will look, I have a little story that’s on our Future Forward Sales website at the on the homepage, but it’s about me and my brother. And he was this, he was a good skier. I was, I could ski, okay, let’s just put it that way. I could ski but he would take me up to the top of the mountain and you always have a choice of runs, like ones like the simple one, ones, intermediate ones, like advanced. And he always would be going down the advanced run, and I’d be looking down look, going, Oh my goodness. And, and we can use more colorful language as you will. And, and, and I was like, you know, literally I was, you know, that was a different type of almost primal fear. But David would say, let’s go. And I went, and I went for it every time. And so and yeah, I could fall. Good. You know, it took me longer, but I made it down the hill. And it was that, that was sort of one of these things about me that I was able to tap into that I’m a go for it type of person. So if I can identify what it is that what’s that fear within? Then I can start to work on it. Right. And, you know, like I said, I may never be brilliant at this. I’m even saying some negative things about myself like okay, well I don’t have to be that good. Right. But the point is, I keep working at it. I keep doing it. I’m gonna get better and better. And all of that’s okay.
Kim Meninger Yes. I love that and I hope for everyone listening that they can find a way to be more of a GO FOR IT person. I think that’s such a great way to, to capture what we’re talking about. And I’m, I’m curious what motivated you to want to tell your story today? What are you hoping people will take away from it?
Lynn Whitbeck I am hoping that, that the thing that drives me, and that motivates me more than anything else is to be of service. And if one person just picks up on one nugget, that they go, I can do this and I can start applying this today, then my job is, has is done. And I’ve been able to give them an incredible gift, a gift to know that they’re not alone. That they, they’ve got the grit and the gumption and the determination to make a change to make a choice, a new choice and to make their life better. And that’s Wow, it’s nothing better.
Kim Meninger Wow is right. I’m really glad that you and I had this conversation today. Lynn, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me and just share all these great nuggets. I I feel like there were so much that we can think about and learn from what you shared today.
Lynn Whitbeck Oh Kim, thank you so much. And I truly hope that everyone out there, that there was something that you could latch on to. And just take that. Take that, take that leap, take that leap.
Kim Meninger That’s great.