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Episode 10 — Getting Past Imposter Syndrome

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About this episode

Do you secretly feel like you are a fraud, that you shouldn’t be given the responsibility and credit you receive? You are not alone: imposter syndrome is a common affliction of the educated scientist. In this episode we will examine how to know if you suffer from imposter syndrome and, more importantly, what to do about it.

Hosted by Dr. Nick Oswald featuring Kenneth Vogt of Vera Claritas.

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Intro/Outro (00:08):
This is The Happy Scientist podcast. Each episode is designed to make you more focused, more productive, and more satisfied in the lab. You can find us online at scientist. Your hosts are Kenneth Vogt, founder of the executive coaching firm Vera Claritas and Dr. Nick Oswald, PhD bioscientist and founder of Bitesize Bio.

Nick Oswald (00:38):
Hello and welcome to The Happy Scientist podcast from Bitesize Bio. If you want to become a happier, healthier, and more productive scientist, you are in the right place. I’m Nick Oswald, founder of where we provide bio-science researchers with help with improving their technical skills, your soft skills and their wellbeing. And this podcast focuses on the latter of these three areas. The driving force of this podcast is Kenneth Vogt, who I’ve worked with for over seven years now with him being my business mentor and colleague. And I knew that his expertise could help a lot of researchers, which is why we started this podcast. And these sessions we’ll hear mostly from Ken on principles that will help shape you for a happier and more successful career. And along the way, I will pitch in with points from my personal experience as a scientist, and from working with Ken. In episodes, one to nine of this podcast, we talk about the foundational principles of human needs, core mindsets, and charisma factors, which we’ll be referring to in all future episodes.

Nick Oswald (01:40):
So if you find this episode useful, please go back and listen to episodes one to nine to get an understanding of these life changing concepts. So let’s bring in the man himself, Kenneth, how are you today?

Kenneth Vogt (01:51):
Doing great. And I’m excited to be talking about this very interesting topic of getting past imposter syndrome. I know so many, so many of you scientists out there are suffering from this and I mean, suffering it’s causing you great distress and the notion of imposter syndrome. And I’m sure most of us have heard this phrase before. It was coined over 40 years ago, by two psychologists, there was Dr. Pauline Rose Clance And Dr. Suzanne A. Imez, the idea of an imposter syndrome is that you think that nobody knows that you’re actually a fraud that you, you aren’t actually the expert that everybody thinks you are. Oh yeah. Okay, fine. You got the degree. And you got through the, the, the, the dissertation and all that. But if they only knew how you had had faked it or guessed your way to the, to this position and they all think you’re on top, but you all know the truth

Nick Oswald (03:07):
On the flip side, of course, is the everyone else. Who’s an expert is a real expert. And they’re nothing like that. You don’t have, they don’t have any any blind spots or any feelings unlike you, who’s the only one who is the, you know, the exposed impostor. Yeah.

Kenneth Vogt (03:23):
Isn’t that funny? People don’t look around and think, I live in a sea of imposters. No, no, I’m the only one. So the good doctors who developed this, that Dr. Clance and Dr. Imes, there’s actually a test online and we’ll put a link in to that test in the show notes. So you can go, you can take the imposter syndrome test and see if you, in fact, you’re suffering from this. Go ahead.

Nick Oswald (03:54):
I’m I’m guessing most people will. I’m sure I would. I would definitely be a positive on their imposter syndrome tests.

Kenneth Vogt (04:04):
Yeah. So, so, but even without taking the test, let’s, I’m gonna, I’m going to boil it down here to what it is that, that makes people feel like they’ve, they’ve got imposter syndrome. So that the first one is basic one is you feel like a fraud. You feel like I am representing myself to be something that I’m not, and it doesn’t matter that I have the credentials that evidence, it, it doesn’t matter that I’ve actually taken the schooling and I’ve actually read the books and I’ve actually actually passed the test. They still feel like, yeah, I got lucky. I just, you know, I took tests on a good day. I, I got an easy going professor. I, you know, whatever, whatever excuse they put up before themselves, that they they just can’t believe they can’t have the self confidence to accept that they are the expert that other people believe they are. And they may, yeah. Okay.

Nick Oswald (05:13):
I was going to say it again. It’s not just a professional setting thing. It’s also, it’s also even, it’s just, it’s just a mindset. It expresses itself, especially, you know, in a professional setting like science, it really brings it out. I was just thinking that my son, 11 years old is a really great guitarist and he liked songs and things that are really good for his age. And he doesn’t want other people to listen to them because he thinks it’s, it’s the same thing. That’s going on the same mindset. Even though he doesn’t have a professional setting to work in, he thinks that what he’s doing, isn’t as good as what other people are doing. And that’s just a fundamental mindset.

Kenneth Vogt (05:55):
Well, that just got go to point out too, that this notion of being an imposter can get instilled in us very young and can get instilled in us, even in a positive environment. Because as we’ve talked about in past episodes, Nick actually is personally a rock star. So if he’s going to encourage his own son, I promise you he’s encouraging his own son. So if in that environment that the, his son can feel like he is faking it, it can happen to anybody.

Nick Oswald (06:26):
I would like to say that I’m a bit of an imposter as a rockstar.

Kenneth Vogt (06:33):
Well, we can use you as a case study throughout this and we may well do so, but you know, that’s, you know, another thing gets pointed out here. We think, Oh, the reason I know why I’m an imposter is because I’m an expert. See, you know, for the, for the average person out there that looks at me and see, it says, Oh, well, he’s got a PhD. He’s obviously, you know, really, really an expert in this area. And he’s like, yeah, well, because I’m an expert in this area. I know how much, I don’t know. Well, that is not evidence of you being an imposter. Did you know that that is, that is just actually, that’s evidence of your expertise when you’ve become wise enough to recognize there’s much more for you to gain, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t come a long way already. So I want to add to some factors of how, you know, how you might know that you’re suffering from imposter syndrome.

Kenneth Vogt (07:31):
So the first one is you feel like a fraud, but here’s the second one. You find it difficult to accept praise. So if you ever done that, where you’ve somebody says, Oh, well, you know, you really did a great job on that. And you’re like, ah, you know, I screwed this up here and I’m, and I dropped the ball there and I probably probably should have did this. And I, and I don’t know if you notice, but over here I did this wrong. And they just launch into this whole thing that they attack the praise that comes to them. So do you find yourself doing that? You find yourself unwilling to receive praise. So,

Nick Oswald (08:04):
Yeah, that’s a big one. It’s a good lever as well. I remember that was one of the early things that you said to me was you don’t accept any, praise. If someone praises you just deflect it. So to stop doing that, just try it, you know, do your best to just say nothing and just let it sink in. And that really helped me. Cause it’s just a lever to go to start going in the opposite direction of this, which is essentially just a habitual mindset.

Kenneth Vogt (08:31):
Sure. A simple thing you can do about praise is just say, thank you. Yeah.

Nick Oswald (08:38):
It’s amazing how painful that can be.

Kenneth Vogt (08:40):
Oh yeah. Yeah. The proof’s in the pudding, you got to actually experience it and see what it’s like, what would happen if I said, thank you. When somebody praised me,

Nick Oswald (08:52):
Try a couple of times and you feel the pain and just keep doing it.

Kenneth Vogt (08:56):
Yeah. Well, and, and this is a good opportunity to point out the difference between pain and suffering. Yes. It may be painful to just say, thank you. When you were praised sufferings, a different game suffering is where you agonize over things. And you’re going to find out that pain and suffering are not equatable and, and they’re not equally valuable. And in fact, suffering is not valuable at all. And pain is very valuable. You learn things from pain. So The next thing that might be a trigger to show you that you’re suffering from imposter syndrome is that you overwork yourself. And if you think about that, here’s the reason you overwork yourself is because you realize I’m such a fake. I, you know, I, I’ve got to, I’ve got to work harder just to, just to keep up just to, just to do the basics. And that’s another thing you look at and you go, Holy cow, if Nick Oswald thinks he’s an imposter, I felt

Kenneth Vogt (09:58):
How, if he’s an imposter, I am a, world class imposter. So pay attention to this and learn from this learn, learn from, from Nick’s mistakes here. That’s what it is. So then now here’s another one that, that is a really important one to give consideration to. Are you somebody who feels that failure is not an option? It’s not, you cannot allow there to be failure. If that’s the case, you may be suffering from imposter syndrome because the fact is failure is a regular part of the scientific process. You do fail at things all the time, but again, it’s kind of like how you read it. Did you fail it? Or did you succeed in finding something that didn’t work? You know, that if, if you cannot acknowledge that something went wrong, then you may be suffering from imposter syndrome. And there’s, there’s nothing wrong with recognizing what’s real. You know, we are a science is the search for truth, right? So let’s, let’s find out what’s true. And part of the way to find out what’s true is to find out what’s not true. So I probably had been preaching to the choir here and trying to talk you into believing that you have imposter syndrome.

Kenneth Vogt (11:24):
There’s, there’s probably, probably most of you are going, I already knew.

Nick Oswald (11:30):
And it doesn’t matter what you see. I still am.

Kenneth Vogt (11:33):
There’s that, but, but now let’s, let’s spend a little time talking about how, what you can do about it, because at the end of the day, it’s not fun to feel like a fraud. You, you know, you you’re, you’re constantly feeling like at some point I’m going to get caught and it’s all over. And you know, we don’t, we don’t know what means that it’ll be all over. I’m going to get fired from my job. I’m going to, you know, I’m going to get indicted. I’m going to be on TV, being shamed, you know, but we build up this whole picture of this horrifying thing, that’s going to happen on our way to the gallows. You know,

Nick Oswald (12:10):
It’s interesting. So where does that come from? Because I distinctly remember coming out of my PhD and getting my first job and thinking, Oh God, I don’t know. I don’t know how I’m going to you looked at my resume. And they gave me the job based on that, how, I don’t know how I’m going to keep them convinced that I’m the person that should be be here, you know? Cause I’ve got to perform it’s kind of like, it’s kind of, it’s almost like you’re not recognizing what it is that makes you valuable if you like, because it’s not the, I don’t know. Maybe you can explain that better than we can. What, what is it that fundamentally drives now?

Kenneth Vogt (12:51):
Well, there’s a couple of things that, that come to mind. One of the points that I wanted to make about what you could do about this is that you need to recognize that how you feel about things is not the same thing as how they are, you are feelings and the truth often are remarkably unrelated. And so just because you feel like, you know, I know I should be this, but I feel like that, well, if your resume, I realized some people embellisher their resumes, but let’s just for the sake of discussion, presume that your resume is accurate. It did describe who you actually are, what you’ve actually accomplished. And, and that’s all they wanted. That’s what they expected. They expected you are the guy you represented yourself to be. And so now you might feel different about it. But if you elevate your feelings above the truth above facts, well, you’re going to get yourself in all kinds of trouble.

Kenneth Vogt (13:53):
And if and that’s not to say that your feelings are untrustworthy or they’re bad, or they’re only there to harm you, that’s not true. Feelings are giving you some evidence as something to look at. But often the all they’re doing is telling you, Hey, look at this. And then when you look at it and you go, yeah, you know what? I was lacking here. I was lacking some self confidence. I should have some trust here. I had some great instructors. I had great professors and I learned a great deal from them. And I should, and I should have some confidence that they set me on the right path. Whereas until you had the feeling that, Oh, I don’t know if I’m up for this. You wouldn’t have had that. Wouldn’t have made that consideration. You wouldn’t have thought about it.

Nick Oswald (14:45):
Well, what I was kind of thinking, I was trying to form there before you then helped me form, it was that when you go and when you go and start the next job, if you like, you know, you start in a new place. The reason you’re there is not because of the grades you go or something like that. It’s, it’s, what’s behind those grades. And that is the it’s. It’s who you are. It’s the talent that you have and it’s having, and then you’re armed with knowledge. But generally when you go into a new job, you have to arm yourself with new knowledge that’s specific to this job. So really what you’re bringing is your innate talent it allows you to get, you know, those those results that got you in the door anyway. And so it’s having self confidence, which is just that you just trusting your own talent, if you like, and allowing that to be expressed. I think that if you flip it around imposter syndrome is not just not trusting that innate talent that you have something to do something like that anyway.

Kenneth Vogt (15:44):
Yeah, exactly. It recognized that you, that what you’ve established isn’t that, you know, everything you’ve established, I have the capacity to know what, what needs to be known.

Nick Oswald (15:54):
Exactly. Yep.

Kenneth Vogt (15:57):
So let me, let me, let me look at the dark side of this for a second though, you have that feeling that you’re not up to snuff and upon examination. Wow. You’re not. It is important to recognize when you are in fact fraudulent. Now that’s going to be a minority of the time, but, but I’m not telling you like, Oh, don’t worry about it. Everything’s perfect. You’ve got everything you need. No, there will be moments when you don’t, well recognize that, see where the holes are so that you know what, no, that these are holes I need to fill. That’s not going to be your common experience. And, and even if it happens, you’re going to realize, okay, I got a few weak spots here. Yeah. I should deal with that. But you’re rarely are you going to look at this and go, wow, you could drive a truck through the hole that I’ve got here. You know, that, that doesn’t happen very often. But if it does happen get in front of it, this is, this is the time to recognize I’ve got to do this. If you take away,

Nick Oswald (17:05):
I would say, in a scientific setting, in terms of, you know, we’re thinking of the, you know, the points where the, where the imposter syndrome goes through the roof is when you start for me anyways, when you start a new job and in a scientific setting, you come with a basic, and it’s probably the same in a lot of other professions where you come with a basic set of tools, but you also come with some gaps because when whatever problem you’ve been employed to solve, it’s a whole new technical area. You generally have to learn unless you made it. You know, you’ve gone into some that you’ve completely become technically competent in previously. But a lot of the times you come in with a basic set of tools and you’ve got a big amount of knowledge to you’ve got a large amount of knowledge to acquire before you can become effective. You’ve got to get up to speed in this specific area of literature, you might have to learn some new techniques and stuff. And so the opposite of, of a imposter syndrome would be thinking that you didn’t have to do that work each time that you, you could just wing it. And yeah, that’s, that’s irresponsible, but I guess that’s, that’s the, as you say, that’s the dark side of imposter syndrome is when you, if you don’t, if you don’t acknowledge that and don’t don’t react accordingly.

Kenneth Vogt (18:22):
Sure. And you want to take advantage of that startup phase. That’s the moment when you’re going to get the most slack cut for you when it’s recognized, everybody knows, Hey, you’re, you’re in a new job here. You’re at a new company here. You’re starting a new project here. Everybody understands. That’s the moment when you’re going to need the most input. And you’re going to need the most to learn the most new things. You need to step up in that moment. And that’s not the, the beauty of this is recognizing that you have some holes, doesn’t establish that you’re an imposter. In fact, it does the opposite. It’s just, let’s see, this is a person who understands themselves and understands their capabilities and their background well enough that they know where what’s missing in, and they’re going to do something about it. An imposter would pretend those holes weren’t there.

Nick Oswald (19:15):
Yeah. And that’s the fundamental here, I think is that that one driver of imposter syndrome is feeling like you need to know everything. And it’s certainly not the case. Again, it’s kind of what we were alluding to earlier is that is the reason you’re here is because you have the talent to figure out whatever you need to know, or you have the ability to do that.

Kenneth Vogt (19:37):
Well. Yeah. And I think it’s, it’s even worse than just that you need to know everything it’s that you, that you think you need to project that, you know, everything don’t project that do not project that, you know, everything. And in fact, you’ll take a lot of pressure off yourself if you’re a bit more self-effacing and I’m not talking about, you know, like, Oh, you know, I’m an idiot not to know anything, I’m a worm. No, but it’s like, Oh, that’s a new thought for me. I’m going to have to look into that. I’m going to have to, I’m going to have to look that up. I’m going to have to do a little experimentation there. You know, that, all that stuff diffuses that you’re an imposter. It shows like, Oh, no, this is somebody who’s got, they’ve got the lights turned on that they’re paying attention to what’s going on here.

Nick Oswald (20:23):
And so if you flip that around then to another reason why these professional settings like science are so, you know, give rise to acute imposter syndrome is that there’s a culture there’s often a culture of people projecting, you know, overprojecting, project overconfidence. And so unless everyone does, you know, underneath that everyone is feeling varying degrees of imposter syndrome. I feel like, well, not everyone, most people. And so by, by you kind of breaking that and be more show, more humility and more vulnerability, then you’re kind of starting to break down that culture, which makes it easier for everyone else as well. So that’s going to feed into your charisma. Like I talked about in the last episode,

Kenneth Vogt (21:10):
Exactly. You can make, you can not only make the world a better place. You can make your personal lab a better place. Absolutely. And you know, this does point to something else that really is important. We have to have a healthier response to failures and mistakes than we’ve often seen exhibited around us. Mistakes failures are regular part of our activity and of the work you do. We, we can’t pretend that we’re going to have this environment where there’s never a failure that that’s not, that’s not going to work. And if you’re in a situation where task after task is a, there’s no option for it to fail. That’s a dangerous environment that you can’t last in that environment. And you got to build in some safeties so that it’s, it’s okay for there to be failures where failures are survivable. That should be part of the system. If you have a system that is so fragile that a single failure brings it all crashing down, your system is broken. So you,

Nick Oswald (22:24):
Yeah. One way to look at science is that it’s, you know, 95% failures or at least it’s not that it’s that you don’t go by definition. You have to go into things, not knowing what the outcome’s going to be. And the outcome can be influenced by just that’s the, you know, the answer to the question is not what you thought it was, or that you’re typically asking the question wrong and making a tech technical mistake. And you’re not seeing it there’s room for all of that in there. And all of that is part of the learning process you’re dealing with as part of the learning process of, of becoming a great scientist. And, and you know, there’ll be people listening to this who are at varying levels in their career. So this applies differently to different people. If you are someone who is a manager of scientists, then you know, this is your opportunity to give them the room to fail or for things to go wrong. If you like, you want to put it like that. So, and then learn from it because I then grow in that way rather than feeling compressed because they feel like there’s no there’s no room for failure and it just feeds an anxiety that doesn’t help anyone. I know that, I know that you’re a big fan of Ray Dalio. There’s a lot to see about that sort of creating that sort of environment Ken.

Kenneth Vogt (23:45):
Oh yes.

Nick Oswald (23:47):
What’s the summary of what, of, of what Ray says about that.

Kenneth Vogt (23:52):
What Ray is looking for exceptional people at, and if you don’t know who Ray Dalio is, he, he started a company called Bridgewater Associates. It’s a hedge fund. It was started from, from nothing and now they manage something like $160 billion. It’s one of the most successful hedge funds ever. And they’re very good at what they do, but when they, they bring in the best of the best, and then they create this, this environment where they just absolutely demand that everyone see things as they actually are there, that you just, you don’t get to play imposter syndrome in Bridgewater Associates. It’s like, we all know we all have holes. And he’s constantly talking about that. That even at the top top managers and even talking about himself, there are things I’m not good at, and I’m never going to be good at. And if I sit up here and say, well, I’m the boss, I have to be good at it.

Kenneth Vogt (24:56):
Or I’m the boss. And everybody’s just going to have to pretend I’m good at it. That doesn’t work. And he creates an environment where, where the lowest person on the totem pole, as far as management structure can speak up and correct somebody high up the structure. Now there’s some, there’s some rules for engagement on that. It’s not like any, any, you know, the janitor can stir the pot with the CEO, but, but that, if they’re, if they’re bringing up something credible, it’s treated that way and they’re not, no one is being looked down on ever. Now I know that that’s a, it sounds like a great environment. It is a great environment, but it is also a demanding environment because everybody’s expected to, to accept the standard. So, you know, part of it is you gotta look at yourself and you got to accentuate the positive.

Kenneth Vogt (25:47):
You, of course, you can look at things about yourself and say, these are my weaknesses, but you don’t, you are not made up of all weaknesses. You have got strong points and you need to accentuate those things accurately, you know, realize that, okay, I may not be great at this, but over here, I’m truly an expert. And over here I’m truly experienced. And over here I’ve really walked the walk, you know, so pay attention to the positive side of things too. And don’t don’t just indulge in this negative thinking, cause it doesn’t really get you anywhere.

Nick Oswald (26:27):
I guess when you’re looking at, you know, looking at, in terms of things going wrong, we, you know, one aspect is when things go right, or do you do things well to acknowledge that? So that gives you that you know, that confidence, but when things go wrong is to treat them with same kind of a bit detachment where, it’s not personal thing. So whether, again, you’re the person who’s done something wrong, or the person in your team has done something that, you know, made a mistake. You don’t, it’s so easy. And it’s so common to drive that person down because they made a mistake. And for them to take it personally, they’ll just know nothing to begin from that. And that’s what I take from reading from you know, what Ray Dalio does is that, is that they treat problems as depersonalized problems that just have to be solved.

Nick Oswald (27:16):
And and it’s not about, it’s not about driving a person down. This is the easiest you know, often for me, I find that when someone has made a mistake, it’s actually because a system I put together as not correctly set up, you know, but it’d be so easy for me to just say, yeah, you made a mistake. You know, it’s all your fault. I don’t have to look at the system. It’s the same here. But again, the overall thing is that if we’re trying to build personal confidence and respect and effectiveness and, and team effectiveness, then depersonalizing problems as a, is a really important thing and dealing with them in a detached way.

Kenneth Vogt (28:02):
Yeah. And as much as you don’t want to be living, feeling you’re, that you’re a fraud and an imposter, neither do your colleagues. And are you feeding into their imposter syndrome? Whether that’s a peer or your boss or whoever.

Nick Oswald (28:18):
Yeah. I think that’s everywhere. There’s a lot of that going on. I see anyway,

Nick Oswald (28:23):
Right? And some people are doing, you know, they’re doing it inadvertently, but other people are doing with glee, you know, and boy don’t be that person. You’re, you’re going to find that you’ll make, you’ll end up making enemies that will really hold back your career and really hold back your enjoyment of, of your, of your work. You know, you want to work around people that you enjoy being with. And nobody enjoys being with somebody that, where they feel like at any moment, I could get another arrow in the back from this person, you know? So don’t be that person.

Nick Oswald (28:55):
Yep. And this sort of thing is, you know, your own contribution to the overall culture that you work in. And and depending on where you are in the, you know, the the hierarchy, you can have more or less influence, but everyone can have an influence and changing that culture for the positive helps everyone. Especially if you work in a, in a, you know, something as important as science, the better we can get science working, the better it is for the world so it really gets that.

Kenneth Vogt (29:22):
Yeah, exactly. There’s something bigger going on here than just you and recognize that if you’re in an environment and you’re feeling, you know, there’s some toxicity in this environment, take some personal responsibility there and say, you know what, I’m not going to be a part of that. Even if I’m not going to stop it, I’m at least not going to be a part of it. And maybe you can also help stop it. Maybe you can lead by example and, and show that people there’s a better way. Now, one of the things you can do for yourself along those lines is cut yourself. Some slack, you know, sometimes you’re not going to be perfect. Everybody’s not firing on all cylinders. Every moment everybody get ebbs and flows throughout the day. So, you know, if you’re cutting other people’s slack, cut yourself some slack too, and give yourself a chance to not have to be perfection in every given moment.

Nick Oswald (30:15):
Is it true to say that you’re never perfect though?

Kenneth Vogt (30:20):
Well, is that there’ll be some, there’ll be some, a link to an article in the show notes that that to an article entitled “Perfectionism is setting the bar too low“. So I will, I will leave that point, that concept in front of you to think about it like, Oh, is it perfectionism? Doesn’t work. It really doesn’t work and in that article we’ll deal with that a little bit more. So I’ll leave that as a teaser out there for you, but you can take a look.

Nick Oswald (30:45):
So that’s in the show notes.

Kenneth Vogt (30:46):
Yeah. Okay. So here’s another thing is change the dialogue in your head. Are you sitting there all day long, come on. That was stupid, what is wrong with me? I’m like, well, here I go again. I was like, Oh man, I am such a lazy piece of uselessness.

Kenneth Vogt (31:04):
You know, I think about your internal dialogue and how much is going on there are you constantly taking little shots at yourself? And that really adds to this burden of feeling like you’re a fake. So stop it when you hear that kind of thing. Just first, the first thing is to notice it when you notice like, well, that was stupid of me. Like, Oh, look at that. Look what I just said to myself. Once you’ve acknowledged it multiple times in a row. Now you can start combating it. Now you can go. That was stupid. It’s like, okay, stupid is a pretty strong word. No, there was a mistake. That was it. So, you know, and you know, you, you can start to, you start to change the dialogue. And then you’ll start to realize that, you know, that voice that says I’m stupid. That’s not me.

Kenneth Vogt (31:55):
Those are just thoughts that kind of wandered on by. And, and I decided to give it meaning I heard this, this great way of looking at this that, that I just love to share. So, you know, a bird can land on your head, but you don’t have to let it build a nest there. And that’s what thoughts are. And so we have these little thoughts that come by that are potentially harmful to us. You don’t worry that you had the thought, so don’t beat yourself up. Like there dude. I called myself stupid again. And you’re like, no, the thought came up. Whether or not you’re going to take ownership of it now is a choice you can make and you can make it. You can make it time after time and you can reject it time after time. And after you do that, it doesn’t actually take that long to stop coming up or it’ll start coming up less frequently. And, or it’ll, you know, it’ll take more demanding circumstances before it comes up until you get to a point where, you know what, I I’ve, I’ve let that one go. So, you know, give yourself, give yourself that kind of mental hygiene, you know, clean, clean this stuff out of your brain. Don’t just accept it. Don’t let it go by and just like, Oh, well I guess I’m stupid because the thought came to me. No, it just, it’s just a thought.

Nick Oswald (33:18):
I think we could do a whole episode on that.

Kenneth Vogt (33:20):
Yeah. It’s there and everybody’s doing it. We all have this constant, constant dialogue going on in our head. I say dialogue often. It’s just monologue. Although it is interesting when it becomes dialogue was like, you’re stupid. No, I’m not. Wait a minute. You know, you’ll find yourself having these little arguments in your head. Sometimes that it’s a, and that’s actually an improvement and then you’ll stop having those arguments. So, but it’s, it’s a process. Just, you just got to get engaged in it, have some experience with it. Stop taking for granted that these thoughts are my thoughts. The, that that’s a, another, it’s another phony notion in, and there may maybe another article I have to put in here, a link to another article that talks about stopping thinking, because you might think I need to stop thinking, well, it can be done. So yeah.

Nick Oswald (34:18):
Yeah, definitely. I think that’s something to cover. I mean, I stopping thinking. It sounds like, but I think it’s stopping a particular kind of thinking really.

Kenneth Vogt (34:28):
Well, and it’s recognizing too that, wait a minute, I’m not actually doing this thinking. These are just thoughts that happen by. So, so not taking you out of your own head for a minute. And then going back to what we said, one of the, one of the ways of knowing that, that you’ve got imposter syndrome is that you find difficult to accept praise. And the answer to that is to accept praise. Wow.

Nick Oswald (34:56):
That’s an amazing.

Kenneth Vogt (34:57):
Yeah. So many times we, we want to have with gimme the 10 step process to solve this. And it’s like, no, it’s a one step process. Stop doing what you’re doing.

Nick Oswald (35:08):
This is an easy one because it literally, you know, I it’s quite hard, you know, the you know, the dialogue in your head or the monologue in your head and not believing you don’t thoughts and stuff. I find that quite difficult because you’re just so tuned into, or you’re so trained to think that, that, that those mean something. But actually I find that I find this quite easy to accepting, well, I find starting off in it. Cause it’s very obvious. All you have to see is someone’s praised me. Okay. Now I don’t, I’m not going to say no. And so yeah, that’s quite an, but it’s very, it gives a lot of starts to build a lot of momentum and moving away from feeling like a fraud

Kenneth Vogt (35:52):
And, and something that I’ve done with many of my coaching clients. And perhaps I’ve done this to you Nick, I don’t know, but maybe somebody else has done it to you where I’ve given you a compliment and you tried to deflect it and I’d say it was a compliment. Just say, thank you. Oh yeah. And by the way, that’s something you can do with other people.

Nick Oswald (36:17):
That’s just what I was thinking. Yeah. Yeah. As we were trying to do this kind of change the culture, that’s around us for our own good in front of other peoples, then, you know, that’s quite a, quite a forceful thing I’m going to, I’m going to be using that. I forgot, but, okay.

Kenneth Vogt (36:32):
Yeah. Like I said, you know, this is the thing too. If you have suffered from imposter syndrome, you know that other people are suffering too. And so we don’t want anybody to suffer. We don’t want our colleagues to suffer. We don’t want our, our bosses to suffer. We don’t want our, our subordinates to suffer. Let’s, let’s help alleviate suffering. In fact, that’s kind of what science is often about is we’re trying to improve the human condition. Well, you can improve the human condition just with some, some of these simple things here and, and it’s gonna make a better environment that is, that will multiply this improvement of the human condition. So Nick, do you still feel like an imposter?

Nick Oswald (37:21):
I’m Scottish. So, it’s inbuilt but I’m always, I’m always moving away from it.

Kenneth Vogt (37:27):
Well, good. Keep up the good work on that. Okay. Well, I’d say that’s our, that is a wrap on the topic of getting past imposter syndrome and what, looking to the show notes for some interesting articles that can give you a little more information and also have a link to the imposter syndrome test. So you could see if you, in fact qualify.

Nick Oswald (37:51):
Yeah. So the show notes are available. This is episode 10 of The Happy Scientist podcast. You can find the podcast at So if you look that up and then look for episode 10, you will find the notes on what we’ve talked about. We’ve been talking about today. Other housekeeping is that, as I mentioned in the introduction that a lot of what we are talking about is based on the foundational principles that we set out in episodes one to nine when we covered human needs, core mindsets and charisma factors, which are tools that can really help you to, to get under the skin of this kind of these mindsets that are holding you back and start moving in a more positive, positive direction. So I’d really recommend you go back and listen to episodes one to nine, if you find this interesting, and finally you can join us on the private Facebook group for this podcast, which is called The Happy Scientist Club, which is at facebook.Com/Thehappyscientistclub, all one word. And in there, we’ll be looking at this stuff from all sorts of different angles and chatting about it and so on. So once with that will give you more depth into the to the topics and approaches that we’re talking about here. So thank you again for another great another great contribution Ken and I’m looking forward to the next one.

Kenneth Vogt (39:23):
All right, we’ll see ya’ll next time.

Nick Oswald (39:25):
Okay. Thank you. Bye.

Intro/Outro (39:33):
The happy scientist is brought to you by Bitesize Bio, your mentor in the lab. Bitesize Bio features, thousands of articles and webinars contributed by hundreds of PhD, scientists and scientific companies who freely offer their hard, won wisdom and solutions to the Bitesize Bio community.

Hosted by Dr. Nick Oswald featuring Kenneth Vogt of Vera Claritas.

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