Uncover all of your own self-talk and self-criticism and challenge it. For example, if your brain tell you that you aren’t good at something, challenge it by asking a powerful question. In what ways am I good?
As a part of our series about how very accomplished leaders were able to succeed despite experiencing Imposter Syndrome, I had the pleasure of interviewing Vikki Louise.
Vikki works with ambitious overachievers, teaching them how to manage their anxiety & procrastination so they can focus, and show up consistently to create impact. She has a no BS approach blending neuroscience, evolutionary biology, life coaching tools and tough love that teach people to understand their brain, rewire their thinking — and feel empowered to get things done. Vikki graduated from the London School of Economics and worked in finance and tech for years before moving into coaching full time. She hosts the top rated F*CK Anxiety & Get Sh*t Done podcast available on iTunes and Spotify. Find out more about her at www.vikkilouise.com
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
Sure. I am a serial relocator, I have lived across four continents in the past ten years and that is what started my self-development journey. I call relocating the lazy way to self-development because when you literally step out of the known into a new country, you are forced into making active choices about your life, your schedule, and the people you will meet. Of course it isn’t lazy at all. And soon I realized I could learn to make active choices and take responsibility for my life without the relocation.
I worked in finance and tech but I was always drawn to helping people, and so in 2016 I decided to quit my successful career in finance and go all in on coaching. I love working with clients all over the world and teaching them how to manage their brain, our most powerful tool. We are never taught about our brains and this work changes everything. Knowing that our brains are wired to be lazy, for example, can relieve us of so much self-criticism that frees up our energy to problem solve.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Eight years ago I was living in New York, in an intense sales job. I didn’t love it and yet I decided to stay in the job… until I was fired. I am so grateful that this happened. It taught me to not be afraid to make decisions for what is best for me. It also propelled me out of a career I that wasn’t fulfilling. I had feared losing my job and when I did, it was the best thing. So I also learned how our brain catastrophizes things. That thing that you are worried about happening? You’ll survive it. Humans are highly adaptable and I am pleased to have learned that early on in my career.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I talk about anxiety in a way that most people don’t. Honestly, in a way that I didn’t know of until I was experiencing my own panic attacks on a daily basis. I remember going to Dr Google and having conversations that were all telling me that I had a disorder, and there was something wrong with me that needed to be fixed. And this is where I saw the gap. “1 in 5 American adults will suffer from an anxiety disorder”, I remember reading that sentence and meeting it with some confusion. My statistics background told me 20% of a sample size of over 100million wasn’t a disorder, it was a trend. And so my research began. There is a lot of confusing misinformation out there about anxiety & procrastination. My goal is to simplify it and my business is built off integrity because I was truly my very first client years ago. This comes through in everything I do and allows me to get clients results. I hear from people that listening to the first ten episodes of my podcast did more for them than 3 years in therapy, for example.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I am grateful for so many people, truly. But I will mention my dad today. He told me that I could be successful at anything. He said even the best garbage woman can build a business, hire people, train people and create success.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the experience of Impostor Syndrome. How would you define Impostor Syndrome? What do people with Imposter Syndrome feel?
Imposter syndrome simply put is not crediting ourselves with our success, and disassociating with it to the point where we use our success to criticize ourselves. People with imposter syndrome feel fear of being caught out, doubt of their abilities, shame for the experience itself.
What are the downsides of Impostor Syndrome? How can it limit people?
The downsides include, but are not limited to, playing small, quitting, withdrawing, engaging in self-criticism. These of course also filter into procrastination. The more we sit in Imposter Syndrome, the less we get done, which only goes on to feed the imposter syndrome once again. This cycle can ultimately cost careers, relationships and on a larger scale, solutions to world problems. I always say that each of us are uniquely positioned to solve for certain problems, so when we are not able to show up for them, it doesn’t just cost us, or the people close to us, it can literally cost the world. It limits people as a distraction from productivity. It limits people as it impacts their confidence. With low self-esteem comes a likelihood of not speaking up, not going for promotions, not engaging with colleagues or clients or even in personal relationships.
How can the experience of Impostor Syndrome impact how one treats others?
Hugely. It can be mistaken for being rude. It isn’t that, of course, but we don’t walk around with a sign sharing our imposter syndrome. Typically one would be quiet, withdrawn, less likely to engage with others and be responsive.
We would love to hear your story about your experience with Impostor Syndrome. Would you be able to share that with us?
Sure. I remember my first day at the London School of Economics, we sat in the giant lecture hall and we were told that we were there because we were the best. My brain immediately went to, “I don’t belong” and talked me out of being there. To the point where I went to the head of Economics at another university and begged to be transferred and let into their program, convinced I would fail. I am so grateful to him, because he told me that I didn’t realize the opportunity I was giving up, and he was right, and said I could transfer at the end of the year, no sooner, and so I committed to staying for the full year.
Did you ever shake the feeling off? If yes, what have you done to mitigate it or eliminate it?
Yes, this experience inspired me to help others and become a coach. We believe our brain and it keeps us playing small, this is why I love coaching ambitious overachievers, just because we are successful or appear to have success on paper doesn’t mean we have confidence. Learning how to create self-confidence on demand has allowed me to lean in to discomfort, trust myself and show up for my ambitious goals. Now I coach other people to do the same. We also can sit and question, OK, my brain thinks I didn’t create this, but what if I did? And look back to see what steps were taken, what we were thinking that allowed us to take action, how we were feeling at different points. I call this the success blueprint. It clears up exactly how we created the success so we stop attributing it to something outside of us, or luck. Then typically we can apply that same blueprint to other goals too. Win, win.
In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone who is experiencing Impostor Syndrome can take to move forward despite feeling like an “Impostor”? Please share a story or an example for each.
Yes, sure. Five steps would be:
- Celebrate wins — our brains tend to skin over success and sit in our failures. Nothing is too small. The more we celebrate our success, the more empowered we feel, the more we are going to create MORE success. Often clients come to me to manage their procrastination and end up losing weight, earning more and with better relationships. It’s so fun.
- Review the steps — Evaluate what worked and why, this is really important. So we can see how exactly WE created those results. Again, we skim over this, but this is where we take ownership for our success. Our brain will literally forget things on purpose because of our cognitive bias. I had a client tell me that something great just happened to her, and because we had done the work to create it, I was able to point out to her… actually, you decided you were all in for the experience, showed up committed, and created your own success
- Apply what worked — Continue to apply what worked, over and over, so you see yourself as the creator AND it has the added bonus of more success. If switching your phone on airplane mode as you work allows you to get more done, then do it again and again. Then credit yourself for being committed to being focused
- Learn to self-validate vs relying on others — this is really important. We so often wait for other people to validate us. It doesn’t work. Learn to validate yourself by consciously spending time doing it. Not lying to yourself or saying things you don’t believe, but saying things you do believe, yes. For example, I have a client that believed she could do anything she chose to do. Owning that vs focusing on what she “should” do changed everything.
- Better relationship with self — Uncover all of your own self-talk and self-criticism and challenge it. For example, if your brain tell you that you aren’t good at something, challenge it by asking a powerful question. In what ways am I good?
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Happiness is contagious, let’s smile to strangers.
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This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!