Episode 6 | Imposter Syndrome in Veterinary Medicine

author

Jack Peploe
Veterinary IT Expert
May 11, 2021

Topics

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In this week’s episode

  • Are you suffering with anxiety, doubts about your abilities, feelings of inadequacy, dwelling on past mistakes and not feeling good enough? If any of these are familiar to you then this episode is for you…
  • Veterinary Surgeon, Speaker and Imposter Buster Dr Katie Ford, talks to Jack about Imposter Syndrome, what it looks like in the veterinary sector, how to identify if this is impacting you and what you can do about it.
  • Plus on the show this week, Jack introduces Timehero an AI powered online tool that schedules, manages and automates your work, form daily tasks to projects and calendar events. 

 

Show Notes

  • Out every other week on your favourite podcast platform
  • Presented by Jack Peploe: Veterinary IT Expert, Certified Ethical Hacker and dog Dad to the adorable Puffin.
  • Jack introduced Timehero, a fantastic tool that automatically plans your daily tasks, meetings, projects and reoccurring work using some really impressive AI technology.
  • Jack’s special guest was Veterinary Surgeon, Speaker and Imposter Buster Dr Katie Ford about Imposter Syndrome, what it looks like in the veterinary sector, how to identify if this is impacting you and what you can do about it.
  • Many thanks to Web Marketing Guru Marcus Sheridan for recommending our book for the week "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie
  • In our next episode Jack will be joined by highly sought-after international keynote speaker and web marketing guru Marcus Sheridan who will be talking to us about They Ask, You Answer, a business philosophy which, when embraced fully, will make you the most trusted voice within your industry.
  • Please send any questions, ideally in audio-form (or any other feedback) to jack@veterinaryit.services.

Transcription

Voiceover:
Coming up on Modern Veterinary Practice...

Katie Ford:
It's a well-documented experience. I try and just help people see it in a very different way and just reframing it, saying you know what, so many of us, 70% plus of the population, pretty much everybody that you look up to will have felt this way at some point, and it does not mean that you are a fraud.

Jack Peploe:
Welcome to Modern Veterinary Practice. I'm your host and veterinary IT expert, Jack Peploe. In this week's episode, I'll be talking to Dr. Katie Ford about her job as an imposter buster. I'll also introduce you to TimeHero, an AI-powered online tool that schedules, manages and automates your work from daily tasks to projects and calendar events. It's another tool that we use on a daily basis and trust us, once you try it, you won't want to give it up.

Jack Peploe:
If you find yourself struggling to organize your time, schedule your day and are constantly rearranging your plans to fit in the work you need to do, then we would seriously recommend you look at using TimeHero. Now TimeHero automatically plans your daily tasks, meetings, projects and reoccurring works using some really impressive AI technology. What this means is that you can manage and track everything you and your team need to do.

Jack Peploe:
The AI will automatically plan the outstanding tasks based on yours and your team's availability. It's even so dynamic that if events change, tasks get completed early or priorities change, TimeHero will instantly and automatically adjust everyone's plans to fit. This means that tasks don't just get lost or forgotten, as each one is time-allocated and scheduled in your plan. The best thing is that as TimeHero integrates with over a thousand other popular tools, such as Microsoft, Google, Slack, as well as many more, it allows you to centrally manage your workflow through one place.

Jack Peploe:
We use this across our team, allowing us to ensure that our deadlines are always met, whilst being flexible about what work gets done when. It takes out the need for us to manually manage our team's time. It can take a bit of time to set up, especially if you have lots of recurring tasks that you need to do as part of your job role. But once it's done, you can simply import the same tasks every week or month, and watch as TimeHero schedules your work for you over and over again. It genuinely really is a time hero.

Voiceover:
The interview.

Katie Ford:
Hi, there. My name is Dr. Katie Ford. I'm a veterinary surgeon. I qualified in 2012. Through my own journey with imposterism, I have now become passionate about spreading the word, opening conversations. I trained as a coach, and I regularly speak on this topic just to raise awareness, signpost people and help them, too.

Jack Peploe:
Amazing. Hi, Katie. Welcome to the Modern Veterinary Practice podcast. We're, obviously, excited to have you on the show today. How are you?

Katie Ford:
I'm very, very well today. Thank you so much for having me. I'm looking forward to this one, as I've just said, one of the topics that I'm hugely passionate about. So thanks for giving me the platform to discuss it, Jack.

Jack Peploe:
Not a problem at all.

Jack Peploe:
I had a good read of your website, and it describes you, obviously, as a veterinary surgeon, speaker and imposter buster. Now I know what a veterinary surgeon does, I do a bit of speaking myself, but what does it mean to be an imposter buster, and how did you get into that line of work.

Katie Ford:
In terms of actual what an imposter buster is, that is the term that I have put to just opening the conversations about imposterism, because I never say to people we are going to get rid of this because that's a really frustrating thing. Because imposter syndrome or imposterism, or however we want to term it, isn't a personal fault. It's not a clinical condition. It's a well-documented experience. I try and just help people see it in a very different way and just reframing it saying you know what, so many of us, 70%-plus of the population, pretty much everybody that you look up to will have felt this way at some point, and it does not mean that you are a fraud.

Katie Ford:
I got to that through my own journey actually of struggling a lot with this feeling and a lot with these thoughts and very much in isolation. Nobody was talking about this. I didn't know it was a phenomenon. I didn't know that other people had experienced it. I just had a lot of external success that I never claimed as mine, and it actually just led to a lot of very worrisome thoughts for me. As a young vet that had a certificate, that was a senior vet, that spoke with the clients evenings, that was on the radio, that was the vet that everybody wanted to see, but internally this narrative to me was like, somebody is going to realize one day that you don't actually know what you're doing. You better work a little bit harder.

Jack Peploe:
So it never stops.

Katie Ford:
That's it. I think rather than thinking of it as being, oh my goodness, this is just this fault that I've got, and it's never going to disappear, it's saying, you know what? Sometimes that inner critic that we've all got, as we're testing beliefs that we never chose about what success and what failure is, it's going to pipe up from time to time if we are pushing those comfort zones. We never actually chose it. We don't have to believe it.

Katie Ford:
At those points where maybe it's shouting a little bit louder, it's time to redirect our attention, time to ask for help, time to be a bit less judgmental of ourselves and say, you know what, actually, nobody knows everything. Rather than me sitting here with that internal pressure of you must know the answer to every single question, or you are, are a fraud, this is the point where we sit back and say, you know what, actually, let me just go and find out. Let me go and speak to some people that can help me, and let's foster that growth mindset moving forward.

Katie Ford:
I'll be honest, Jack, I never had any of this when I'd first graduated back nearly 10 years ago now, and it led me to a pretty dark place. And with imposter syndrome or imposterism, which I think is a better term for it now, because syndrome implies it's something wrong and there's something wrong with us, but it can lead eventually to anxiety and depression, if it's unrecognized. And you can imagine if you constantly feel like somebody is going to find you out, that you're a fraud and you believe those thoughts 100%, it is a very natural progression as you could see. If you're constantly thinking you're going to get found out, you're going to start feeling pretty anxious about it.

Katie Ford:
And really through my own journey of that was where this passion came because I realized that I wasn't alone, and there were things that could help, and the methods that really transformed things for me where I actually went on to train in as well. Now I'm passionate about saying, you know what, this was me. Even though I had all these amazing things that I aspired to have and thought that when I get to that point, life is going to be sorted out and won't feel like a fraud anymore and it will all be good, I still felt like a fraud, but you know what, you don't have to believe those thoughts, and let me open those conversations up. Because sometimes the greatest illusion that we have is that the people that we aspire to be feel the way we want to feel.

Jack Peploe:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's almost a lead-on effect of being driven, in a sense, because you're constantly wanting more and more and more and more, in a sense.

Jack Peploe:
But I mean, going back to the figure that you mentioned, 70% of the world's population, that is huge. Why do you think that might be the case?

Katie Ford:
I mean, certainly yep, 70%. It's even noted sometimes higher than that, and I have no doubt that within the veterinary profession, it's higher still. From just very informal surveys and polls and things that I've run, it's been like 99%-plus.

Jack Peploe:
Wow. Okay.

Katie Ford:
And in our profession in general, we tend to be the people that are going out and doing things. So we're going out, we're getting qualifications or we've maybe got some perfectionist-type tendencies and traits that we've picked up along the way. And we've got a very clear set of beliefs on what success and what failure is, and sometimes they don't serve us very well. I know I had quite a deep-seated belief of I am not good enough. And that was something that, rather than me sitting back and looking at that and saying, actually, you know what, I never chose this I am not good enough thing. I was probably taught it when I was, like, five or six inadvertently through school.

Katie Ford:
But instead of realizing that you could look at limiting beliefs and realize that they're not you and you don't have to believe them and, yes, it takes work to change beliefs, but instead I was like, right, I am going to go out and prove that I am enough. I'd go out and I do the external things and I think a lot of people are very similar that almost the bar is there and we think it will be okay when.

Katie Ford:
The vet profession tends to be a lot of the people that have gone out and pursued those things. And there were others that will have that I'm not good enough belief and they'll just say, well, I'm not good enough so I just won't bother.

Jack Peploe:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I think going on that point, are there any particular triggers or traits that can increase your chances of suffering with it as such?

Katie Ford:
To be honest, because it's such a human experience that the triggers for imposterism to come up and pipe up tend to be any type of growth or achievement because we're pushing our comfort zones, and we're pushing what our definitions of a success or a failure are. For students, it might be at exam times or when they've got an achievement. It might then be when we graduate or we get a new job. Or if we start doing a certificate or a diploma, or we got a promotion, or we win an award. Any time that we're growing or we're stepping out of comfort zone, sometimes then this imposterism, this little imposter voice pipes up and is like, here's all the reasons why you shouldn't believe this. Here's all the reasons why you don't deserve it.

Katie Ford:
Quite often that inner critic was there very early on to try and keep us safe, but it goes into overdrive. It's like, well, this is new territory. You be very careful. Here's all the reasons why maybe you don't deserve it. It's about us stepping back and saying, you know what, everybody has that voice pop up now and again. There are times that it's going to be imposter-infested waters, which are going to be at these times of growth.

Katie Ford:
That's quite a realization for a lot of people of saying, you know what, actually, this feeling is here not because I'm a fraud, but because I'm being stretched and I'm growing and it's a bit uncomfortable. Rather than leaning into that, being a bad thing and that actually oh, my goodness, I'm a fraud. I'm not going to do it. I don't actually deserve anything of what I've achieved up until now, it's saying no, being a bit kinder to yourself at this point. You're pushing some comfort zones. Let's try and reaffirm some of the reasons why you do deserve to be here.

Katie Ford:
Let's be kinder to ourselves as well, because we go further if we're kinder to ourselves and just take it a little bit slower if you want to, too. Knowing that have been an absolute game-changer for me personally.

Jack Peploe:
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. No, I can imagine. I mean, sometimes it's reminding yourself, ultimately, that we, as humans, we can't know everything. We can't be the experts at everything, and just accepting that and be more willing to sort of push forward.

Jack Peploe:
If I've got my facts right, I believe it was, obviously, Clance and Imes who first described the scenario of the imposter syndrome in 1978 amongst a population of high-achieving women. So it begs the question, is there a pattern in the type of person that suffers with it?

Katie Ford:
In terms of when that was documented, like you're saying now in 1978, they'd looked at that group of high-achieving women. But since then, the more recent reviews have shown that it equally affects all ages and all genders.

Jack Peploe:
Okay.

Katie Ford:
I think the places where it's probably being talked about more are where we've got people that are achieving and growing so the triggers for it, if there's an environment that is trigger heavy, we're probably going to see it more.

Katie Ford:
But I think realistically, there's also a lot of people that are going to feel imposterism about a variety of circumstances, being a parent, even being a pet owner. There are going to be bits that just trigger we're doing something new, oh, my goodness, you are not the right type of person to do this. Or you didn't actually achieve any of that. It was all by a fluke. So I think there are conversations that open up more in certain areas.

Katie Ford:
But to be honest, I think that throughout the population, that there's the ability for this to happen with anyone and from the conversations that I've had peripherally, not just in our profession, but further afield, and you start looking, like Tom Hanks talks about having imposter syndrome. Serena Williams talks about it. Lady Gaga talks about it, all of these global mega stars, and it's just using that evidence almost to normalize this a little bit. So, yeah, there will be some populations that are more prone to it, but the most recent reviews that have come out within the last few years have really said that it's across the board.

Jack Peploe:
Okay. No, it's interesting. I'm sure a lot of our listeners will hear you talk about imposter syndrome or, imposterism, and a lot of it hits home for them. How can vets identify if they have imposterism?

Katie Ford:
In terms of the type of imposter-type thoughts that would pop up in these circumstances would be if you've had an achievement or a good case outcome, or you've had something that's happened in terms of, I don't know, you've got your certificate, it's almost that little internal narrative that's saying you don't deserve it because of this. You fail to accept the compliments. Maybe you downplay the achievements. You say, "Oh, well it was someone else that helped me. So it's not just me that's done it on my own." Or you feel like you have to live up and match up to everybody else so perhaps you're overworking. Maybe you feel the need that you need to focus on the 1% out of a hundred that you didn't get a little bit of a perfectionist-type of a trait, which could be argued to go back to the previous question, one of the types that may be a little bit more predisposed to this. So we've got people that perhaps won't apply for certain jobs, unless they've got every single qualification that they need and feel like an imposter if they're not going for it that way.

Katie Ford:
So these would be the little traits that are popping up, but really it's just listening in to our self-talk and seeing how we're acting. Are we discounting everything that we've just done? Are we feeling like somebody's about to find us out? The textbook definition of imposterism really is the persistent inability to believe that one's success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one's own efforts or actions. I think that sums it up pretty well.

Jack Peploe:
No, that's cool. If they were able to sort of resonate with this, what are you saying that they could potentially do about it? How can they ease the situation a little bit?

Katie Ford:
Absolutely. So there's a few things I'd say on this.

Katie Ford:
The first one is that if this is something that is having a continual negative impact on your life, something that's giving you quite worrisome or anxious thoughts, or there are any symptoms of anything along the lines of depression, for example, speaking with the GP. This isn't what I'm saying for everybody, but it's just something that I pull up and say, look, it can start as imposter-type thoughts. But if this is really having a profound effect on our entire lives then speak to somebody about it, ring up VetLife, speak with VetLife, speak with the GP, speak with a counsellor or a therapist. If it's that you're looking to progress in your career or everything's okay, but you think, oh, I'd really just like to come through this a bit more and have a bit more support, speaking with a coach can be useful.

Katie Ford:
Different levels of different things are going to help people in different ways. So the other things that you can look at just as a little bits every day, if this is something that just pops up, but it's not causing a huge annoyance or a huge impact ongoing life-wise would be try and gently redirect your attention to things like things that are going well. So I say quite often to people save your wins so at the end of the day, quite often, that little imposter voice wants to tell you all the reasons why you didn't do quite as well today and all the reasons why you actually aren't as good as everybody thinks that you are. And just gently guiding your mind back to these are the things that did go well, these are the reasons why I'm doing a good job. Let me affirm some things like it's okay to ask for help. So that's one thing.

Katie Ford:
The second thing is just being quite mindful and being the watcher of our thoughts. Rather than putting so much significance to all of them, we'll be saying, okay, so I'm hearing this impostery type of a thought. Let me remember I don't have to believe every one of them. And can I just flip my attention to being a bit kinder to myself? Maybe I am just growing a little bit here.

Katie Ford:
The third thing will be just always remember it's okay to ask for help and take a bit of the pressure off yourself. If you take a real step back and just look at the situation from afar and say, you know what, actually I'm feeling like I have to do this all on my own, but nobody knows everything. And maybe I just need to go out and speak with someone about whatever situation it is that I'm worried about. Whether it's that you're feeling like an imposter or whether actually there's a case that you don't feel like you can manage, but actually the thoughts you're having around it are I should be managing this on my own without anybody intervening. I should know this by now. That's a lot of pressure to put on yourself, when the situation is actually resolved a lot quicker if you say, you know what, actually, it's fine to ask for help. I'm going to email the referral centre. Or I'm going to speak with a senior colleague and learn something and grow with it.

Katie Ford:
The final thing, I just keep adding things on this list, would be-

Jack Peploe:
No, no, this is great.

Katie Ford:
... first of all, normalize it. I used to think for a very long time and I share my journey very openly on social media and on a lot of other podcasts, videos, interviews I've done, I used to genuinely think I was the only one that felt this way. And I used to sit there on call at night and I'd cry with my head in my hands and be like, what is wrong with me? Why is it that I can have this brilliant job, I can have all these clients that bring me all these cards, which by the way, I'd open up and shake out to make sure there was no complaint in there and find a reason to accept the thanks and then I can have this lovely house, this fantastic car, this very supportive boss. I can be like 99% of the way through my certificate, which I found a load of reasons why I didn't deserve that as well.

Jack Peploe:
Wow.

Katie Ford:
It was just because you're so soon out of university and you're just good at doing case reports and maybe the examiners are just bored so they thought they'd pass you anyway, and so on and so forth and sit there and be like, what is wrong with me? Why are these thoughts popping up? Why can I never accept that everybody else is telling me that I'm brilliant, and I just can't see it?

Katie Ford:
So just normalizing that sometimes those thoughts popping in and saying, oh, you're a fraud. You're going to get found out, or you don't actually really know what you're doing, or you need to do this on your own and without any help, is just watching them and saying, you know what, actually, I don't have to believe everything that I think. It's just a thought, and what could I do that's going to be a bit kinder to me to help me grow and to foster that potential that we've all got?

Jack Peploe:
It's amazing to hear you talk about this. I suppose the golden question is, does it get better?

Katie Ford:
I think we can see it differently. I think what we put our energy to grows. So if we feed into the fact that these thoughts are coming along because I am a fraud and because I'm not worthy of what I've achieved, and then our brain starts finding all the evidence because our subconscious wants to be right and wants to keep us safe and will say, okay, so we're thinking that we're a fraud, here is a whole heap of evidence why, then that's quite tricky for that to go away if we keep seeing it in that way.

Katie Ford:
It can, as time goes on, if you slowly do, just keep going and keep plodding on and keep getting evidence to the fact that actually you do know what you're doing, then it might silence down. It will, at some points, come back, though, if you go back to another period of growth, you have another promotion, you go and do a new qualification, you get a trickier case. In our profession, we're always growing. So rather than actually seeing it as a condition, it's just something that's going to almost sign wave from time to time in our lives and seeing it differently, rather than trying to get rid of it, is really pivotal if you say, okay, this is normal, 70% of people or more have felt this way sometimes, I'm feeling a little bit of imposter thoughts, a little bit of imposterism because I'm about to go and do this.

Katie Ford:
For me personally, I kind of expect it now. I'm going to go and do a big talk. The real irony is feeling like an imposter talking about imposter syndrome. You have that just because I go and do a talk. I've done keynote, I've done talks on large global stages. And in that hour before I'm like, okay, well, I'm feeling the feeling of imposterism a little bit, but that's just because I'm about to go and do something big. So I sit with it. I do things that I know will help if there's little sort of anxious-type thoughts. Then I'm like, okay, I'm going to reframe this as a bit of excitement. I'm going to do some deep breathing that I know will calm my sympathetic nervous system down. I'm going to visualize it going well. I'm going to remind myself of why I'm here and why I'm doing this. Then I go out there and enjoy it.

Katie Ford:
So it's not about getting rid of it because that's a really frustrating thing. It ends up being like the big, bad Wolf like, okay, I've got rid of it. Oh my goodness, it's back. Oh my God, it's back. Why is it back? You're, like, "You know what, feelings just pop up because you're growing." Sometimes we'll need a bit of support with that and we need someone to help us with it, and that's fine if you do need that. I have probably three to four coaches that I use at various points in my life for different things. Like if it's a bit of a life growth, then there's one, if it's with one of my businesses, if it's in my career. I just use them to help me prop up the real me while that inner critic is piping up a little bit. So yeah, I wouldn't say we get rid of it because that's really frustrating. I think we see it differently.

Jack Peploe:
Well, Katie, thank you very much. That was an absolutely brilliant interview.

Jack Peploe:
But before we close off, can you tell us how the listeners can find out more about you and get in touch?

Katie Ford:
Absolutely. So you probably find me most often on social media as Katie Ford Vet. That's on Instagram. You'll find me on Facebook as Imposter Busting with Katie Ford. And I do have a Facebook Group, which is called Metamorphosis, Imposter to Empowered, which helps a lot of recent graduates and students just through this feeling, too. My website has a lot of details on what I offer, too, which is katiefordvet.com.

Jack Peploe:
Awesome. Katie, thank you so much. It's actually great having you on.

Katie Ford:
Thank you for having me. I really enjoyed it.

Voiceover:
Recommended reading.

Jack Peploe:
Every week we ask industry professionals and experts to suggest a best business book for our listeners. This week's recommendation is from web marketing guru, Marcus Sheridan.

Marcus Sheridan:
I think probably How to Win Friends and Influence People was my most influential book because I picked it up for I think it was 50 cents at a garage sale when I was in college, in university and I was like, "Huh, this looks interesting." That little book set me on a course of personal development that's never gone away and changed my whole life. And when I fell in love with personal development, that's when my life really, really started to change and take off.

Jack Peploe:
Coming up next week, we welcome highly sought after international keynote speaker and web marketing guru, Marcus Sheridan, who will be talking to us about, They Ask, You Answer, a business philosophy which, when embraced fully, will make you the most trusted voice within your industry. And it begins with an obsession of understanding the answer to one question, which is what is my customer thinking?

Marcus Sheridan:
If you said to me today, "What is They Ask, You Answer?" it's a few things. Number one, it is a true obsession with the questions, worries, fears, issues, et cetera that your customers, your buyers have. That's number one.

Marcus Sheridan:
Number two, it's a willingness to teach and communicate with them in the way that they want to be taught and communicated with.

Jack Peploe:
That's it for this episode. All links and recommendations we talked about are in the show notes. Don't forget to subscribe and share the podcast if you found it useful. In the meantime, thanks for listening, and see you next time.