True strength lies not in the absence of self-doubt, but in the courage to acknowledge it and forge ahead anyway. Embrace your worth, confront imposter syndrome head-on, and pave the way for a future where your brilliance knows no bounds. Welcome back to our podcast! In this episode, we’ll explore imposter syndrome, delve into the awareness of our thoughts, and, most importantly, discover effective strategies to confront it head-on. Joining us are two incredible women, Dr. Ann Dranitsaris and Heather Dranitsaris-Hilliard —a dynamic mother-daughter duo who are experts in consulting, executive coaching, training, speaking, and writing. They’re going to discuss how to identify and dismantle dysfunctional patterns in relationships, both within organizations and in personal life. They explore the fascinating world of personalities and dive into a groundbreaking neurological framework that sheds light on the driving forces behind our behavior. Imposter syndrome may never fully disappear, but by equipping ourselves with the right tools, we can effectively work with it rather than against it. Tune in as we unravel the complexities of imposter syndrome and uncover techniques to thrive despite its persistent presence. Check out the Dismantling Dysfunction: Podcast Discover the Dranitsaris-Hilliard: Website | YouTube
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Crushing Imposter Syndrome: Unleashing Your Inner Power With Anne Dranitsaris Ph.D. And Heather Dranitsaris-HilliardI delivered a talk called Knowing Your Worth to a group of females, and many of them were engineers. After the talk, I spoke to a couple of female engineers. They each told me that they still didn’t feel like they were good enough to be an engineer or lead a team. These are engineers. Obviously, they’ve had a lot of schooling and education. One of them was a director of a department. The other one had a team that she was leading. It all boils down to that pesky Imposter syndrome. In this episode, we’re going to be talking about Imposter syndrome, being aware of your thoughts, and more importantly, what you can do when it pops up. Imposter syndrome is never going to go away, but there is a way for you to work with your Imposter syndrome. In order to do that, we’re going to talk to two amazing women. We have Dr. Anne Dranitsaris and Heather Dranitsaris-Hilliard, a mother-daughter team. They wear many hats. They’re consultants, executive coaches, trainers, speakers, and authors. They are adapting their expertise and solutions to help clients discover and dismantle dysfunctions in the relationships at work, at home, in organizations, and in leadership. We’re going to talk about personalities. We’re also going to talk about a neurological framework for understanding the drivers of our behavior. With that, stay tuned for this conversation with Anne and Heather.
—Anne and Heather, thank you so much for being here with us. I know you guys have a ton of books and you have a ton of experience, but this is where I want to start. I attended an event, and this event had female engineers. They work for the road industry. Two of the women are accomplished. They’re engineers. The one conversation that kept coming up is that they don’t feel that they belong. It’s that Imposter syndrome that keeps coming up over and over. I know that you have some good information on how women can deal with Imposter syndrome and some tools. In No Women Left Behind, we cater to women in the corporate world. I want to start there. If we can tackle that Imposter syndrome for these accomplished women that don’t feel that they belong. Thank you so much for having us, Rosie. I want to say that before I launch into my answer. I appreciate you having us on the show because your audience is so much in need of understanding and tackling the Imposter syndrome. It is a phenomenon where, while we’re seeking external approval and validation, we forget or can disconnect from who we are and our potential because we’re so busy trying to fit in and belong that we don’t realize that as professionals, we’ve already made it. We don’t need anybody’s stamp of approval. Our brain is wired to keep seeking it. We’ve already made it, but we keep on going because we’ve always done that. Our brain is wired in these patterns where, despite having grown, developed, and achieved how we feel internally, because of the messages our brain keeps sending us, keep us stuck in this place of not feeling good enough and doubting whether or not we fit in. Sometimes we have more confidence and more to offer than our peers. I have known that women, instead of working on confidence, they’re working on attaining more certifications, “Let’s get one more certificate. Let’s get one more degree.” Anne, what are some things that you recommend to your clients or some stories that you can share with us on how you have your clients overcome those feelings of not belonging and of not being good enough? We always talk to our clients about it from the perspective that it’s a developmental gap. It’s not so much that we’re going to overcome or get rid of it because it’s there and it’s something that we have to work our way through. There is a path that we take our clients through always. One of the first ones is to start to understand what we call your Imposter syndrome script. That’s what runs in our head that says, “I should have known. I should have been aware. I shouldn’t have done that,” or the feeling and that comment of, “I’m not good enough. This isn’t good enough. My work’s not good enough. They’re going to figure it out.” Whatever that is that keeps running through your brain, that track that keeps you stuck in the Imposter syndrome is the first place that we start, because I have to be aware of it, not then say, “When that comes up, I need to ignore it,” because our brain upholds a vacuum. What we have to do instead is replace these automatic negative thoughts that are in us because of our growth in development and emergences through childhood into adulthood and replace it with things that are realistic, supportive, positive, and being, “What do I need to say to myself that’s going to encourage me?” Instead of, “I should have known. I should have caught that mistake,” and all those shoulds that go through our brain, it’s, “Given what went on, there’s no way I possibly could have known.” That’s a realistic thought versus the automatic should have, judgmental, imposter, “There’s something wrong with you.” That’s one of the first actions that we have to ground ourselves in knowing and understanding. From my own perspective, because both Anne and I worked our way through the Imposter syndrome, which is part of the experience that we share with our clients, I can say I never have that, “I should have,” thought anymore, which was so prevalent for me in my 20s and my 30s just by becoming aware of it, starting to challenge that thought, and think about things in a more concrete and realistic way. For example, the one woman that I knew was probably late 40s because she was talking about having a teenager. She said, “I’m in a room of a lot of male engineers, and I’m generally the only female engineer. I feel like they don’t take me seriously or don’t respect my thought process.” I don’t think that’s a new concept. We’ve been fighting and combating the fact of we are trying to belong or to gain that respect. Heather, if you were talking to the woman that I was talking to and she’s like, “I’m an engineer and the other engineers don’t take me seriously, which makes me feel like I don’t belong,” what would you have said then to that woman at that moment? It’s a feeling she’s talking about. That’s her feeling. I would be asking for, “What is the evidence? What are the facts that are present?” “I feel like they don’t take me seriously because my thought process is different.” “How is it different? What evidence do you have that they’re not taking you seriously?” If you’re at the table, if you’ve been elevated, promoted, and have a track record of success, what’s the evidence? What is the actual issue? Is there discomfort that they present because they don’t know how to build the same relationship with a female colleague versus a male colleague? When we’re struggling with the Imposter syndrome, we’ll often personalize the actions of others as evidence that we’re not good enough or that there’s something wrong with us as opposed to looking at it and saying, “What is this about them?” The feeling I’m experiencing perhaps is that feeling legitimate from that perspective of, “Are there facts that are triggering this particular feeling? What’s the issue that I want to do something about? It is theirs and they need to own it. It’s got nothing to do with me.” When we're struggling with imposter syndrome, we'll often personalize the actions of others, making it evidence that we're not good enough or that there's something wrong with us. — Heather Dranitsaris-Hilliard Click To Tweet Sometimes we see things that aren’t there. Like you said, we collect that evidence that is not there. Honestly, sometimes that happens with my husband and I when we’re talking about something and I was like, “You said this.” He goes, “I never said that. Where did you get that?” We need to pay attention to the evidence that we are collecting to support whatever thought. I always tell people, “Just because you have a thought doesn’t mean that it’s a right thought. It doesn’t mean that it’s an accurate thought.” It happens to my husband and me sometimes. He said something, I took it in, I interpreted it, and then changed it somehow in my head. He’s like, “I never said that.” I imagine that kind of the same thing happened. Once you are aware that you’re doing that, what’s your next step then to work on that? As Heather and I have worked with leaders for the past many decades, it is recognizing that most leaders are left-brain and they’re very functionally competent. They have risen to positions because of their functional competence where they fall behind in their development or more of those interpersonal skills. I say this in relationship to engineers because the majority of engineers are left-brain people. We need to be in order to do the tasks an engineer has to do. If you look at that pathway that they take in terms of developing their functional competence, and then feeling anxious on the interpersonal side, and then going and getting more functional competence, they’re not focusing on the right place to develop. To answer your question, those imposter feelings like, “I feel like a fraud,” is not a feeling. It’s an imposter feeling. “I feel like I’m not being respected.” Again, not a feeling. We have to pull back, look inside, and feel what we’re experiencing. In a scenario like that, an engineer might feel somewhat deflated or devalued because they’re not getting the recognition they need. Instead of saying something about them, it’s, “What would be my strategy for getting more recognition or asking for feedback in this scenario?” The focus of development needs to be on interpersonal, strengthening, and understanding, as Heather said, the Imposter syndrome scripts, the imposter feelings, and the lies the brain will tell us about what’s going on when they’re absolutely not true. I couldn’t have said it better myself as far as the lies that your brain tells you that is not true and the stories and the things that we make up in our head. Sometimes you have fights with somebody and you’re like, “I should have said this. I could have done that.” Heather, you said that you don’t should yourself anymore. You have life experience, you’ve been around someone that is in their early twenties that is just starting off in their career. They don’t have that life experience. We have that script that we want people to pay attention to. What are some actionable things that a twenty-something could do as far as paying attention to their thoughts? What does that awareness do and how can they improve that? If you think about some of the ones around the should, it is that perfectionism that is one of the symptoms of Imposter syndrome. Although, if you had approached me in my twenties and said, “You’re perfectionistic,” I would’ve said, “No, I’m not.” In reality, I was trying to keep everything controlled, contained, and perfect so that if everything was perfect, then no one would find out that I was a fraud. No one would see the reality that I’m dealing with internally. From that perspective, what I had to do, and this is what we talked to our clients about, is set out more realistic and objective standards. If perfectionism is my standard, that means I have to be all-knowing, superwoman, and a psychic because I had to anticipate. None of that’s realistic, so I had to set some realistic benchmarks. One of the first ones I started with was that it’s okay to have a typo in a presentation. A typo in my presentations could completely throw me off track. It would be the entire thing that I would obsess about as though the other 59.5 minutes of time involved in that presentation that everybody else was obsessing over the one typo. I had to learn in that process of trying to be more human. Part of that’s about our personality and how we develop our personality and recognizing through that lens of self-awareness of, “What is it that I need to develop in my personality in terms of my brain and my brain style that’s also going to help?” A lot of where my Imposter syndrome came up was because my relational function was much less developed compared with my other functions. Anything that was in that relational discourse or environment, I struggled a lot more with. That was where the feelings would get triggered, so I worked on developing that. We do the same thing with our clients where it’s understanding what that developmental gap is, how that’s tied to our personality or brain organization, and then what the path is for each one of us. A lot of it comes back to that bringing into the conversation in your brain more realistic objectives and more realistic standards. I will even say to myself, “To this day, as my client does not know what I had envisioned in my head versus what I delivered, then what I delivered is good enough.” It’s that notion of trying to create more realistic standards on which you’re judging essentially, evaluating yourself, because the ones that the Imposter syndrome puts in your head are not realistic and not possible. We’re always falling short as a result of it. The standards that the imposter syndrome puts in your head are not realistic. They're not possible. And so, we're always falling short as a result of it. — Heather Dranitsaris-Hilliard Click To Tweet I’m a speaker, and I know you both do speaking as well. You’re right. You’re like, “I forgot to say whatever sentence.” When you think about it, the audience had no idea what you had to say and that you had something planned. In a way, we are allowing space for us to be human. I love that you said that. Not that men don’t suffer from perfectionism, but women have more of perfectionism. We have to be perfect. We have to do everything. We have to be superwomen. It’s impossible. It’s so interesting this Imposter syndrome. Now being aware of it and then understanding that script or that tape that’s running through your head is the first place to start. I was looking at some of your YouTube because you both have so much content. We’ll get into your story a little bit later. In one of the YouTube videos that I heard you speak on, you talked about confidence, competence, and capability. Those three words are so key because as you are stepping into your career from graduating from college, and then even mid-career level, that competence and capability is what helps you gain that confidence. How do those three go together in your opinion? It’s a great question to ask following what Heather was talking about in terms of reasonable expectations. When we’re graduating from university or college, we’re not thinking, “I’m in my early twenties and my brain isn’t even developed yet.” We’re saying, “I’m in my twenties. I should know.” Men and women who suffer from Imposter syndrome have this belief that’s running that they shouldn’t have to go out and get experience and build competence. They see, “I’m in my twenties. This is a destination. I’m an adult now. Now I should know, people expect me to know, and I need to be delivering on those external expectations.” That’s dehumanizing because we don’t look at it from that perspective of, “Now that I know and I’m coming to the workforce with everything that I know, I need this next decade to practice how to be an adult, how to take responsibility for myself, and how to get help in building confidence and competence in the workplace.” It is expecting people to be helpful and expecting employers to coach in a reasonable fashion, of course. If we don’t examine our beliefs, practice mindfulness, have a thought journal, write these thoughts down, write down what we believe, and challenge those beliefs, that can go a very long way in terms of allowing people to guide us developmentally as we go through the first years of our career. It is letting ourselves off the hook for trying to be all-knowing when we’re 22 or 23 and we’ve got such little experience. I know that you both have several books that you have co-written and then you have many other workbooks and things like that. If we had those twenty-something that are trying to dig into personal development, where would you point them to as far as identifying that script? At this point, they don’t know what they don’t know. When you don’t know what you don’t know, you don’t know what resources to tap into. I know you have a lot of free stuff on YouTube, but what are some free resources that you could point us to that script? Imposter syndrome and lack of confidence always start with our thoughts and our mindfulness. Tell me a little bit about some of those resources. I know for sure on our YouTube channel we have a whole bunch all around the Imposter syndrome. There is there. We break it down into the different steps or elements that people have to work through starting through the script. It’s reflected in our book as well, Power Past the Imposter Syndrome. There are a couple of things along with understanding how the Imposter syndrome shows up with you because there are different personas. Depending on our personality, we’re going to use the personas a little bit differently or in different circumstances. It is being aware of how the imposter syndrome shows up in you because it’s different. That also carves out a little bit of a different developmental path. Here is the other place that we always tell people to start, especially folks in their twenties. For me and many of my clients, I remember that it’s grounding in getting to that place of accepting your uniqueness. We spend our childhood and our high school life trying to conform and fit into whatever environment we have been raised in, be it our home environment, school environment, or social context. When we’re in our twenties, we’re out of university, and we’re in the early stages of our working life, it’s our first real opportunity to think about, “Who am I actually and who am I meant to be?” Not, “Who am I adapted to be in order to fit in and to be successful in those environments?” It starts to give us permission to be unique, different, and who we actually are. If you’ve never done a personality assessment, we have the Striving Styles and Myers-Briggs. There are a ton of them that are out that are free. It is going on that journey of self-discovery of understanding, “What’s your personality? What are your preferences? How is your brain organized? What does that mean for you?” It’s interesting because I have a daughter. She’s been raised on this stuff, all about the Imposter syndrome, personality, your brain, and everything that Anna and I bring to the table. She has the same personality style as I do, but it’s so different for her because as a female, she’s a thinking preference individual, as am I. You never grow up as a child in high school feeling like you fit because your brain style’s different than the majority of the other women there or girls that are in that environment. For her, she’s openly talking about it. She understands it. It doesn’t have the same impact on her as it did on me because I didn’t get it. I was always like, “What’s wrong with me? Why am I not like these other girls? Why am I so different?” I then hit my twenties and I started to explore it, and I started working together. It was permission to be myself. Talk about the best gift of shifting you out of the Imposter syndrome track is to stop devaluing your own unique abilities and talents and those things that make you different. Instead, embracing them and using them to go back to that confidence. Our confidence comes from moving into that place of becoming who we’re meant to be, and not playing that role, not sticking out or hiding out under our Imposter syndrome personas. Those couple of things are valuable in your twenties as you start this journey. I love that, giving yourself permission to be different. With social media these days, especially with teenagers, that’s so hard because what does social media do? You compare yourself to everybody else, what they’re doing, and what they’re wearing. It’s so toxic if you are not aware of the fact that it’s okay for you to be you and you don’t have to be a perfect body size or perfect whatever. It’s so interesting. Does Imposter syndrome show up for your daughter at any given moment in her life? Absolutely. We can talk about why and where. It’s because of her life experience. Some of the things that she’s faced and she’s challenged in her relationship, we always talk about it with her father because her father, a traditional European male, boys are worthy and girls are not. Despite me being a successful, confident, and assertive female, the fact is her journey is to work through that particular situation. She had school experiences that were the same. The boys were treated differently. As a girl, “You want that? That’s not possible for a career.” Boys want to be hockey players? Sure, you can be a famous rich hockey player. She’s had this whole collection of experiences in her teenage years that we’re constantly framing for her that because she’s a girl, she’s not enough. Not from me, not from her experience in our family. The women are the matriarchs and the powerhouse, but it’s interesting. She’s caught in this dual world, and that’s her internal struggle. The difference is she talks about it. I didn’t have that going into my twenties. That was my point in bringing up that question because even though she grew up with different types of frameworks that you’ve taught her, that Imposter syndrome is always going to be coming back in and out of your head. Knowing about it, having the mindset recognition of that script, that’s what makes the bigger difference there. If I can add to that, it’s an absence of understanding in our society that the first part of our development is looking at the external world for validation of who we are. That’s where most people get stuck. That’s why most relationships are codependent. People don’t go into that next stage where they separate out because they are confident and strong enough in their internal world that they can say, “That’s the way they think about it,” or “That’s how they’re behaving. Not about me. This is my path, and I’m going to stay on my path. I don’t need that external validation.” We get attached to it. As with social media, we get addicted to what’s going on outside of ourselves. We get more disconnected from our actual authentic selves, our needs, and who we are as human beings. We spend a whole lifetime trying to be what other people want us to be and always feeling like a failure. That’s the Imposter syndrome right there. When we’ve abandoned ourselves, we don’t know how we feel because we’re so focused on what other people feel that we’re neglecting ourselves. We spend a whole lifetime trying to be what other people want us to be and always feeling like a failure. That's the imposter syndrome right there. — Anne Dranitsaris Ph.D Click To Tweet That’s so interesting, Anne, because I have seen that in my life. When I was younger, even back a few years ago, if I had a problem, I would call my posse. I have three sisters. I have my two best friends. I would collect facts. I would collect information. Over the last few years, I’m like, “Why do I do that?” I realize that I’m more of a researcher. I’m analytics, so I need to collect all the facts before I make a decision. Over the last handful of years, I’ve been thinking to myself, “If I have a problem, I have the solution. I don’t need to go and call my three sisters and call my two best friends.” Now, I’m like, “What do I think? What do I feel? What is it that is good for Rosie?” What I would do is collect all the facts, and then I would still do what I thought was my best solution. I was like, “Why do I need all this input?” It’s because of the way my brain works. Now that I know that, I don’t have to go out to get that external validation. Although it’s always nice to know that people support me, they don’t have to agree with me anymore. That’s okay. That’s the big piece there. It didn’t just happen. It’s with experience, with all the life issues that I’ve had with my work experience, that kind of thing, I’m now comfortable with who I am. Any other Imposter syndrome pops up for me every once in a while, but I know about it. I’m like, “It’s just a thought.” I push it off to the side and then I move on my merry way. It’s been a lot of personal development to get here. I want to shift the conversation a little bit. I know that you use, and it could be along the same lines, a neurological framework for understanding the drivers of the behavior. We’ve already talked about a few of those. Can you explain what those neurological frameworks are that you use for understanding those behavior drivers? A lot of people want to know. For me, once I understood how my brain works that I have to collect facts before I make a decision, that made a big difference. I know other people like salespeople, they know that they want to make a million dollars, but they have no idea how they’re going to do it. It’s completely different. Let’s talk a little bit about that neurological framework. Anne’s whole background is in personality type, using Carl Jung’s original theory of the four functions. We were big users of the Myers-Briggs with our clients, but what we found was it didn’t go far enough, just looking at personality type, which sorts us into, “What are your strengths? What are some of your blind spots?” The question that we always had was, “Why do I behave the way I do? Why do they?” We understand our personality, but there’s got to be something else that’s behind it. Even when we would give a client the path forward, even when we would show them the way, they would still choose other behavior. In the work that Anne was doing around personality type, it started to evolve and integrate more of that, thinking about it from an emotional driver perspective. She was able to identify the fact that for each one of the brain functions, depending on whether we use it internally or outerly, there was a specific hardwired, innate, psychological need that had to be met for us to feel satisfied and for us to feel like we were in on our path self-actualizing. More importantly, when this need was not being met, our behavior would shift in ways that were not productive for us, that were more self-protective. They were fear-based behaviors. For example, with one of the personality styles, they have a need to be in control. That need to be in control is so great that if they are out of control, they will go into bullying, devaluing, and passive-aggressive behavior in order to get back into control. That need for control means that for everything they do in and everything going on in their outer world, they have to have that feeling that it’s in control. It’s so important to them psychologically. If we know that and we’re dealing with someone with that need, we know how to help them stay in control. We know how to teach them techniques. Have a plan. I use an example. My ex-husband had a need to be in control. He would say, “If we’re doing nothing, can you tell me that the plan is to do nothing so that I know that the plan is to do nothing?” It’s because he needed a plan. For me, I could just go do nothing. Doing nothing means hanging around the house, but he had to know that the plan was to do nothing because he couldn’t relax and do nothing until he knew that that was the plan. That’s the need to be in control and highly activated. When we started to put these emotional drivers alongside a personality type, my predominant need is to be recognized. When I’m not in that place where I feel like I’m achieving, that I’m mastering, and that I’m being seen the way I want to be seen, then my mind gets frustrated, so then there are other things that I might do. We talk about my personality style and the need to be recognized. We can be the best of the best or the worst of the worst. If I’m not going to get good recognition, I’ll go after the not-so-good recognition. There are eight different needs, and each one of them has a corresponding fear, a thing that they are most afraid of. In my need to be recognized, the trigger for me is anything that might shame me. I’m more likely to get pushed into my Imposter syndrome script or I’m more likely to avoid something if I believe it will bring shame to me or cause me to feel shame. I go into avoidant mode. Now, it’s like, “This is why I’m behaving like this. Now I totally get it.” I can also look at my life and go, “Are my needs getting met? Are these psychological needs of mine not getting met? Am I activating it in a positive and productive way, or am I doing it out of fear?” That is so interesting, Heather, because I just had an a-ha moment when you were talking about the fact that your ex-husband needed a plan. If you guys were going to do nothing, he just needed to know to do nothing. That happens to me and my husband. He’ll be like, “What are we doing tonight?” In my head, I’m like, “If we haven’t talked about anything that we’re doing tonight, then you can safely assume that we’re doing nothing.” That goes through my head, but we’ve never talked about it. If I say, “I don’t have any plans,” then he’s like, “Okay.” It’s always like, “What are we doing tonight?” I’m like, “I don’t know. Why do you always have to ask me that question?” “What do you want to do tonight?” “What are my options?” We are stuck in that same nagging conversation, but that helps me to let my husband know ahead of time, “There are no plans tonight,” and then we could do whatever. It takes that need for him to know what we are doing tonight. I’m actually going to improve my relationship. We can continue to talk about all this stuff, but I know that you both have a unique story. I was wondering, Anne, if you want to tell us about your story, because it’s quite unique. Can we get into how your relationship is now, how you got to work together, and how you got into the work that you’re doing? When I was sixteen, I gave birth to Heather, just a week shy of my seventeenth birthday. I gave Heather up for adoption and reunited with her through an adoption agency here in Ontario. I was in Ontario, and Heather was out in BC at the time. When she was 27, Heather was about to get married, she had gotten engaged, and she was looking for her biological history, medical records, and all of that type of information. Fortunately, here in Canada, at the time, we had an adoption registry. Both myself and Heather’s biological father’s mother, her paternal grandmother, had signed up as well. We were notified. It was incredibly exciting and nerve-wracking because we lived on different sides of the country. Our first conversations were on the phone because we didn’t have Zoom at the time. My husband and I went out and met Heather three months after our first conversation. Heather, what were you looking for as far as answers are concerned when you sought out Anne? Anne was serious. When I wrote in for medical information, I got an entire family out of the deal. That’s awesome. It’s a very large family. That was a bit of a surprise, but it was phenomenal. For me, I wasn’t looking for anything. I wasn’t looking for a mother. I grew up knowing I was adopted. I have two siblings that were adopted as well. All three of us growing up, my adoptive mom talked about it openly. She referred to us as a gift that she received. She had always encouraged all three of us that if at any point in time that we wanted to go and seek out our biological family, she was 100% behind it. I didn’t have this burning need to meet my family. I had a curiosity. My brain works that way. I’m curious about a lot. I want to understand things. It was cool. One of the things I always say is you grow up as an adopted child, no one looks like you, no one talks like you, and you’re there but you’re not there as part of the family. In the time, the ’60s and ’70s, there was still a lot of bias against adopted kids that we were experiencing, even in our own family. All of a sudden, you meet these people and they look like you and talk like you. They have inflections and mannerisms. I grew up 27 years not seeing these people. I’m listening to Anne’s voice message on her phone for the first time, and I say to my fiancé, “She sounds just like me.” It was so strange. For me, I was blessed. My paternal grandmother was an amazing woman. I had the opportunity to experience her and to have my kids experience her before she passed away. Anne’s family is a huge family. I just got this great benefit, and then Anne and I went into business together three years later. I’d had my son. I was working in consulting. I’m not very supportive of the whole work-life integration, notion being a female. I was a partner in the firm that I was at. We got to talking. I tried to move back to Toronto to take a job, and it didn’t work out. My husband and I are going back to BC with our four-month-old. Anne and I got to talking, and we said, “Why don’t we do this together?” That was it. It’s been many years that we’ve been in business together. It had been a phenomenal experience from the fact that Anne and I have different personality styles, but we complement each other very well. We’ve had our challenges. We were forging a personal relationship. At the same time, we were starting up a business together. We had different skills and abilities, and trying to make that work. We’re old-hatted now, but at least sometimes we call each other out and we’re a little bit more open. It’s not as scary. At the time, for me starting off a business with her, the relationship’s still new, and how do I be authentic and present when I don’t want this woman to decide I’m not good enough going, back to the Imposter syndrome? Can you imagine your biological mom reuniting, and then her saying, “I don’t want anything to do with this kid?” We had to work through all of that. Equally, I’m sure on her side. It’s like, “I finally got my daughter back. I don’t want anything to happen that’s going to fracture this delicate balance that we have going on,” but we’ve managed, and here we are many years later. That’s such a brave endeavor that you went into, having a newish relationship with your biological mom, and then decided to go into business. I don’t know that I could have done that because of what you just said. The relationship is fragile. You’re building it. You’re reconnecting. Me being a solopreneur, I know it is so hard to start a business and all of the ramifications that go with it. Now, I just wrestle with myself, and then I figure it out, especially having two personalities coming at it from different perspectives. With all of your knowledge and training, it’s wonderful that you’ve been able to have this successful business for many years now. Kudos to you both. If I can link this a bit more to the Imposter syndrome, most relationships are based on roles. The mother-daughter relationship, for example, or the business partner relationship. We were pretty conscious about we weren’t going into a mother-daughter role. We were a non-role space and trying to see if we could build a friendship in the beginning. That’s what we were able to build on because our personalities are similar. We like the same type of things. We’re both very active and love to travel. We had so much in common from that perspective, but we were clear on the rules that we could play in the business and what both of us brought to the business that was different. We weren’t competing to see who could be better at the financial side of it. It was just that, “Let’s build it based on what we want, seeing what we wanted to build, and staying focused on our vision,” as opposed to focusing on the fact that we were biologically related. We tended not to talk about that a whole lot, given that we’re both thinking types. To your point, I have a son. My son was a little bit easier through his teen years than my daughter was, but now, she is a teenager. She has her own place, and our relationship has blossomed into a friendship. She tells me stuff that she does, and I’m like, “I don’t agree with it.” I don’t say anything to her. I don’t judge her because now we are in that friendship role. For my birthday, she gave me the sweetest and most beautiful card that she considers me as one of her best friends. I’m crying. It’s so wonderful to shift from that parental role to that friendship role. It’s priceless. I love our friendship now. I’m glad that you said that, Anne, because when you started your relationship, you weren’t going at it from a maternal perspective or from that mother-daughter, but more from a friendship, and then business colleagues. That’s wonderful. I know we’re almost out of time here, but I do want to talk about two quick things, the books that you have. You have a book, Power Past the Imposter Syndrome. That’s critical, and then you have a second book that I looked at, So, You Think You Can Lead? If you can tell me one minute about each of the books, what are the benefits of each of those books? Power Past the Imposter Syndrome is a book-workbook combination. It takes you through the series of activities that we use with our clients and in our From Imposter To Powerful Program. It will take you on that journey so that you can self-complete each one of the steps, the script we talked about, start to build your vision and your perspective of what it is that you want your future self, how that life is going to be for you, and then to build the roadmap to close that developmental gap. Also, helping you to understand and frame the Imposter syndrome and its symptoms as a developmental gap. There’s nothing wrong with you. This is normal. This is human. We all have them. This is what we do in our journey as human beings. It is to work to close that developmental gap. I’m excited about that one because, with the workbook, people can do actionable things in the workbook. What about the other one, So, You Think You Can Lead? So, You Think You Can Lead? was developed because we were doing a lot of leadership development programs at the time. We recognized that there was no step-by-step approach for leaders to understand how to meet their employees’ needs in the performance development cycle and how to shift their own leadership approach. We essentially created a guidebook, in essence, for all of the competencies a leader needs to develop during the first stage when they’re instructing that they need to be self-aware and they need to be directive as opposed to informational, how to coach, and how to let go and not micromanage people when they’ve achieved mastery. Every step of the way, we have different competencies and exercises, things that leaders can do in order to develop their leadership competence. It’s a more objective approach. Leaders can easily identify and do in our programs where they’ll say, “I need to work on step one because I love it when they know how to do stuff, I tell them what to do, and then I leave them alone.” That leaves an employee hanging because they may need a lot more support than that. They get to identify the stage and the leadership approach that they need to work on. Those stood out to me as absolute needs for that manager, especially that newer middle manager that left hanging themselves because everybody’s busy these days. The more tools that they have in order to become effective leaders is such a necessary tool. The Power Past the Imposter Syndrome, that workbook is almost a must-have for every person in the world. We also have a program available on our website that people can buy. It’s a recorded program of the same name, Power Past the Imposter Syndrome. If they’re not keen on having to read, although the book is available in Audible, they can go to our website and purchase the program as well. I’m glad you said that because I have three Audible credits that I was trying to figure out what I’m going to use on, and I’m going to do the Power Past the Imposter Syndrome. Ladies, this has been a wonderful conversation. Everything that we’ve talked about for my show is geared toward women in the corporate world trying to continue to advance in their careers. Because I was at this event, I was like, “The Imposter syndrome is where I wanted to focus.” I’m so glad that we had this conversation because this is exactly what women in corporate need to continue to advance, even though some of them are already there to be in harmony with their thoughts and their ideas so that they can know when Imposter syndrome comes up. Thank you so much for all of your wisdom. I would like to ask you if you have two actionable tips that women in the corporate world could apply to their careers. The first one is the vision. It’s so important to have that vision. Not just goals from that perspective of, “I want to be here, I want to be there.” It’s to have what we call a powerful vision articulated, “What’s the experience going to be like? What are the feelings going to be like? What are all of those elements of your vision?” We need our ambition to be stronger than our fear, and that’s what keeps us moving through and beyond the Imposter syndrome. It’s when we can hold that and keep reinforcing that for ourselves. The second one is, along with that vision, you need a roadmap. So often, we will conceive of what we want, but we won’t then say, “What do I need to do first? What do I need to do second?” Everything that we do is about the experience. We have to move that vision into action. If we don’t have that roadmap, we can get stuck between our current reality versus what it is that we most desire for ourselves. I love those, especially the second one because I have a quiz. One of my quizzes is about three ways that you sabotage your career advancement. One of them is not having a focus strategy, which is that roadmap. Sixty percent of the people that are taking my quiz are falling into not having that focus strategy. I could not agree with you more on that. This has been a wonderful conversation, so I want to leave each of you with a final thought. What I feel is most important as a final thought is that women begin to embrace themselves as human beings that have nothing to prove. That self-acceptance and self-nurturing goes beyond that notion of self-care and you got to love yourself. It’s holding oneself in esteem and not allowing anyone to take or not allowing yourself to give that away because that is yours, it belongs to you, and you’ll protect it and honor it at all times. Heather, how about you? For me, it’s always that start. It’s to move out of the thinking about it and to take action. Any action is a movement forward. That’s what we love to see and that’s what we love to support for all of our female clients that we work out as well. One action leads to another action, and that’s where the strength comes out. We’ve got it. You’ve got it inside of you but just take action. Thank you so much both of you for all of your time. I appreciate this. This has been wonderful. I hope everybody has enjoyed this conversation as much as I did.
—What an insightful conversation with Anne and Heather. A few of the takeaways that I had were that we are okay and we need to accept our uniqueness. Ponder some questions. Ask yourself, “Who am I? Who am I meant to be?” Those insightful conversations will hone your confidence. When the Imposter syndrome pops up, you can think about it and be like, “There it is again.” In order to do that, we need to go on a journey of self-discovery so that we can figure out how our brain works and why we do the things that we do. That’s all a journey. It’s not going to be a once-and-done type of thing. Heather and Anne left us with two great tips. The first tip is, “What is your vision?” She says that we need our ambition to be stronger than our fear. It’s not just about goals. It’s about having a powerful vision and trying to understand what you want your experience to be like. Tip number two, she says, “You have to have a roadmap.” I’m a big advocate of this. I call it a focus strategy. So often, we have this idea and goal, but we don’t put it to paper. Time goes by and you don’t have a plan. Having that actionable focus strategy or that roadmap will get you from step 1 to step 2, and you move through your roadmap. Two incredible tips. This conversation was so good because many of us suffer from Imposter syndrome, but we just need to work with it and we need to be aware of it. As time goes on, it will appear less. If it does, you can recognize it, acknowledge it, and then just put it to the side. With that, remember to be brave, be bold, and take action.
- Anne Dranitsaris
- Heather Dranitsaris-Hilliard
- YouTube – Dranitsaris-Hilliard
- Power Past the Imposter Syndrome
- Striving Styles
- So, You Think You Can Lead?
- Power Past the Imposter Syndrome