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Dr. Valerie Young on Combating Imposter Syndrome, Perfectionism, and Playing Small

In this episode of Passion Struck with John R. Miles, I interview Dr. Valerie Young about the types and causes of imposter syndrome and how you combat it. We also discuss the great resignation, playing small, and perfectionism. | Brought to you by Gusto (  for three months free.

Dr. Valerie Young is co-founder of Impostor Syndrome Institute and the leading expert on the subject. In addition to speaking at over 100 universities, she’s spoken at such diverse organizations as Google, Moody’s, Pfizer, NASA, and the National Cancer Institute. She is the author of The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive.

* Purchase The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women  (Amazon Link)

Those of us with impostor feelings have become adept at essentially attributing our success largely to factors outside ourselves. And so, as a result, there’s this kind of nagging fear of eventually being found out.

Dr. Valerie Young

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Dr. Valerie Young quote from the Passion Struck podcast, You can have self-doubt without feeling like an impostor."

Imposter Syndrome fundamentally describes this often unconscious feeling that you’re not really deserving of your success, that you’re not as intelligent, competent, qualified, or talented as other people think you are. And there’s been some horrible mistake.

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What I Discuss With Dr. Valerie Young About Combating Imposter Syndrome, Perfectionism, and Playing Small

Imposter syndrome is something I constantly get asked about, so I was thrilled to have Valerie on the podcast so she could share her incredible knowledge and tips about it. I suggest you take notes during all of this interview!

  • What life event caused her to do her dissertation on Imposter Syndrome?
  • What is imposter syndrome and the keys to combating it?
  • What are the four different types of imposter syndrome?
  • Questions you can ask yourself to see if you are experiencing imposter syndrome.
  • How you go from impostorism to confidence.
  • Why 70% of workers experience imposter syndrome and its correlation to the great resignation.
  • The importance of playing big in life. 
  • How to overcome perfectionism.
  • Have any questions, comments, or stories you’d like to share? Drop us a line at [email protected]m!
  • And much more…
173 | Combating Imposter Syndrome, Perfectionism, and Playing Small | Dr. Valerie Young | Passion Struck with John R. Miles
173 | Combating Imposter Syndrome, Perfectionism, and Playing Small | Dr. Valerie Young | Passion Struck with John R. Miles

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More From My Interview With Dr. Valerie Young on Combating Imposter Syndrome

During our interview, I asked Dr. Valerie Young about the keys to combating imposter syndrome and the cause of these impostorism types of beliefs.

The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women by Dr. Valerie Young

Dr. Young explains, “I think at the core of so much of these impostor feelings is these unrealistic, unsustainable expectations that we have for ourselves, which comes down to how we’re defining what it means to be competent. When I would do a workshop, I’d put people into groups, give them a flip chart pad, and have them fill in the blank for their imposter rulebook.

And I started noticing patterns. And the pattern was that even though anyone with impostor syndrome distorts what it means to be competent, we don’t do it the same way. So I came up with these five types of perfectionists, the expert, the natural genius, the soloist, and the superhuman. Again, each has a different perspective on what it means to be competent and the different standards they hold themselves to.

There are lots of sources for these impostorism types of beliefs. It could be messages growing up. If you had a kid who came home with four A’s and one B, and your family’s only response was, ‘what is that B doing there?” You got a very powerful message that perfection is the only thing acceptable. For kids, praise is like oxygen. Now, there are many reasons parents might push their kids to get all A’s all the time. Maybe there is an immigrant family where education is seen as the path to success and, in some cases, a kind of survival.

They might really push a kid to excel. Very often, in black families, there’s an understanding that this kid has to be better, right? And that gets instilled in the kid. You have to be better because you will be judged differently. And other families have highly educated parents that just reinforce that kind of the norm:’ we have MDs, we want you to get an MD,’ that kind of thing.

But when you’re a kid, none of that matters because praise is like oxygen. Other kids get really good grades in school, and they get no praise at all. And again, many reasons why good parents wouldn’t praise children. Maybe they didn’t get it growing up. So they don’t know how to give it. Maybe it’s cultural. Maybe we just expected you were going to do well. Maybe they didn’t want you to focus so heavily on one area of success and be more well-rounded. Again, many, many reasons.

But that doesn’t matter for kids because praise is like oxygen. And then there are some kids, John, that get a little too much oxygen, right? They’re told everything they do is remarkable. And they get very dependent as adults on positive feedback, very crushed by even constructive criticism, and have a harder time kind of parsing out good from great from average.”

Thanks, Valerie Young!

If you enjoyed this interview with Valerie Young, let her know by clicking on the link below and sending her a quick shout on Instagram or Twitter:

Click here to thank Valerie Young on Instagram!

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And if you want us to answer your questions or you have a topic you would like John to discuss on one of our upcoming weekly Momentum Friday episodes, drop us a line at [email protected].

Resources From The Show With Dr. Valerie Young

Please note that some of the links on this page (books, movies, music, etc.) lead to affiliate programs for which The Passion Struck podcast receives compensation. It’s just one of the ways we keep the lights on around here. Thank you so much for being so supportive!

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* My solo episode on how to heal from the consequences of abuse: 

*In my interview with Colin O’Brady on his new book The 12-Hour Walk, we discuss how to conquer your mind:

* My interview with Air Force Veteran, Entrepreneur, and Speaker D.J. Vanas about unleashing the warrior within:

About Today’s Guest Valerie Young

Passion Struck with John R. Miles album cover episode 173 with Dr. Valerie Young

Since 1982 internationally-recognized expert on impostor syndrome and co-founder of Impostor Syndrome Institute, Dr. Valerie Young, has delivered her Rethinking Impostor Syndrome™ program to hundreds of major corporations and universities worldwide.

Her award-winning book “The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It” (Crown/Random House) is in six languages.

Impostor Syndrome Institute (ISI) is the official provider of information, insight, and tools to organizations and individuals since 1982.

ISI was co-founded by Dr. Valerie Young, widely recognized as the foremost expert on impostor syndrome, and Carolyn Herfurth.

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John R. Miles is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of Passion Struck. This full-service media company helps people live intentionally by creating best-in-class educational and entertainment content. John is also a prolific public speaker, venture capitalist, and author named to the ComputerWorld Top 100 IT Leaders.

John is the host of the PassionStruckPodcast. The show focused on exploring the mindset and philosophy of the world’s most inspiring people to learn their lessons to living intentionally. Passion Struck aspires to speak to the humanity of people in a way that makes them want to live better, be better and impact.

Stay tuned for JJohn’slatest project, his upcoming book, which will be published in summer 2022.

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