Imposter Syndrome and the Importance of

Setting Healthy Boundaries


Heather Whelpley, Speaker, author of An Overachiever’s Guide to Breaking the Rules, and host of the Podcast, Create Your Own Rules for Life

In this episode, Heather Whelpley follows up her imposter syndrome webinar by giving a brief overview of imposter syndrome and then answering webinar participants’ questions.  Heather offers actionable advice on shifting from over-work to setting healthy boundaries.  She talks us through how to protect yourself from feeling “not good enough” when you work with perfectionists or are treated as an outsider.  She also offers some best practices for responding to feedback.


Brown: Welcome to the Menttium Matters podcast, where we talk about leadership, life, and the transformative power of mentoring. This is Solveig Brown, and today I am thrilled to have Heather Whelpley as my guest. Heather led Menttium’s November Business Education Webinar on Imposter Syndrome, which had a tremendous response from attendees.


Heather was kind enough to follow up the webinar by being a guest on today’s podcast. Heather asked webinar participants to post questions that they would like her to cover in more depth on today’s episode. The questions were fantastic, and I am excited to hear Heather’s responses. Before we begin our conversation, I would like to give you some background information on Heather.


Heather Whelpley is a speaker and the author of the award-winning book, An Overachievers Guide to Breaking the Rules: How to Let Go of Perfect and Live Your Truth. She is also the host of the podcast, Create Your Own Rules for Life. Heather has led events on imposter syndrome and creating your own rules for success with thousands of people at different companies and conferences around the globe.


Prior to owning her own business, Heather worked at Cargill and Ameriprise in a wide variety of leadership development, human resources, and change management roles across the U.S., Latin America, and Australia. Heather lives in Colorado where she enjoys spending time hiking and exploring as much as possible.


Welcome, Heather. I am delighted to have you as a guest today.


Whelpley: Thank you, Solveig. I’m excited to be here as well and get to dive in even deeper into this topic. Especially since there were so many good questions, and we did not have time to answer them during the business education webinar.


Brown: I know it was fantastic. But before we even get to the questions, Heather, for those people tuning in that couldn’t listen to your business education webinar on imposter syndrome, could you please give us a brief overview of imposter syndrome?


Whelpley: Absolutely. To a certain degree, the definition, the name says a lot of it, the imposter syndrome. So, this feeling is like an imposter or like a fraud, even though you are successful, qualified, ready, and you have good experiences. That mismatch between perception and reality is really the crux of imposter syndrome. It’s not about trying to think that you’re good at everything, but it’s really this mismatch of where you feel like your skills, qualifications, and experiences are lower, worse, or less than they are. Now, for a lot of people, they feel this way situationally. It’s not an everyday occurrence, but that mismatch of feeling like, I don’t belong here. I don’t know enough to be here. I’m not an expert, or other people in the room are smarter than me, this shows up in certain situations, but not every day.


Other people though, really do experience this every day. I’ve had people tell me, Heather, every single day on my way to work, I feel like today is going to be the day they realize I have no idea what I’m doing. That I have just been fooling everyone every single day of my career up until this point and they’re going to finally realize that I’ve been pulling the wool over their eyes and they’re going to tap me on the shoulder and escort me out the door. So, know that if you’re listening, that anywhere along that spectrum is normal. Most of us do experience imposter syndrome, at least 70% and most rates are higher than that. Everyone experiences it, or almost everyone experiences it.


Finally, I just want to point out, it’s not actually a syndrome. You’ll hear me hopefully say the word experience imposter syndrome as opposed to have imposter syndrome. It’s such a slight differentiation, but I think it’s an important one that this is something that can come and go. It’s not a diagnosis, it’s not an actual syndrome. It’s also called the imposter complex or the imposter phenomenon, which are probably more accurate, but I think imposter phenomenon is especially hard to say. I think imposter syndrome just rolls off the tongue well, and that seems to be what has stuck. Those are those basics of those inner critic thoughts in your head that then show up, such as, I don’t know enough to be here, I’m not ready, I’m too old, or I’m too young, even though you are qualified. I don’t belong here. I must work harder than everyone in the room. They chose the wrong person. I just got lucky. I haven’t earned this. All those thoughts go under the bucket of imposter syndrome. If you’re experiencing some of those thoughts, you’re likely experiencing some imposter syndrome.


Brown: Yes. Thank you for that overview. One of the many things I love about your work is that you’ve normalized this for people and made it okay to talk about. I was impressed with the chat and the webinar of how people were saying, these are the things that go through my mind. It was a great feeling to see this community of people where everyone has experienced it at some point.


Whelpley: Absolutely, I’ll just tell you, I speak on imposter syndrome probably on average two to three times a month, probably twice a month, and this happens every single time. It doesn’t matter the company, it doesn’t matter the contacts, it doesn’t matter whether people are corporate employees or entrepreneurs, whether they work for a small company or a large company. It is pervasive and in other cultures, not just American culture, multiple cultures across the world. It is so common that everyone is experiencing this, but we’re not typically talking about it. We’re not saying, I feel like a total fraud. I feel like I’m fooling everyone, that I don’t belong here. I haven’t earned my spot here. We’re not really talking about that. So, people feel like they’re alone in this type of self-doubt, but you’re not alone at all.


Brown: I think it’s been great to see people’s responses to that and that feeling like, I am not alone. I am not really an imposter. That has been a fantastic mission of your work.


Now we are going to get to the webinar. Thank you to everyone who posted a question and everyone who liked the question that someone else posted. I am going to ask Heather the top four questions from the webinar chat. Heather, the question that received the most thumbs up responses in the chat was, how do you switch from proving your competence by overworking, to setting healthy boundaries?


Whelpley: Yes, it’s such a good question and it doesn’t surprise me at all that a boundaries question came up in here. First, I want to say that in the webinar we talked about how people tend to respond in one of two or sometimes both ways to experiencing imposter syndrome. Some people tend to hold back from opportunities. They don’t go for that next job. They don’t raise their hand and share the idea. They don’t challenge the things that they’re not doing. They’re still working very hard and probably still have some challenges with boundaries as well, but they’re not going for the thing.


Then the group that I tend to fall into is I say yes, but then overwork to prove myself. I think this is where that question came up, especially if you’re overworking. For instance, I’m in this role, I’m here, or I’m on this project, but I feel like I must work harder than I probably do because I feel like I’m not smart enough, or I just got lucky, or I don’t know enough to be here. I don’t have enough experience to be here. I think that’s where this question came from and it’s so good. Two things came up for me as I was reflecting on this question. One is beliefs, and then the other side is practical, tangible steps because part of setting poor boundaries is imposter syndrome.


It’s not all of it though, and there’s lots of reasons that we might have a hard time setting boundaries. Some of which have to do with external demands and cultural expectations, which are common, particularly here in the United States where we feel we should always be doing more, we should always be working harder, your plate is always overfilling. So, I don’t want anyone to fully take this on as their own as if it’s all your fault if you have a hard time setting boundaries. I also believe there are things we can do about it as individuals, but I want people to hear loud and clear that there is a lot of external pressure that’s coming that is not related to imposter syndrome at all.


But then I think this piece around beliefs is related to what I was just talking about of asking yourself with total curiosity and compassion, why is it so hard for you to set boundaries? Is it because of imposter syndrome? Is it because you’re connecting your worth to achievement? Which was my story, and that’s really what my entire book is about, is learning to disconnect my worth from achievement. Is it because you feel like you must work hard to have any kind of success? There are so many different things. Do you feel guilty when you say no or set boundaries? So much so that it almost feels easier in the moment to just say yes, even though you might resent it later. Really diving deeper into your own personal beliefs around why it’s so hard to set boundaries, with imposter syndrome being one of those reasons that it is hard to set boundaries. If you don’t do that side of it, any sort of practical tangible steps are not going to be as effective because our underlying beliefs are driving many of our actions and decisions.


Once you get some clarity around boundaries, I frequently speak on managing burnout and boundaries, and it’s important to know the actual tangible steps as well. One thing I think we don’t often talk about when you read articles about boundaries or how to set boundaries, is knowing what is most important. You must know what is most important, otherwise you don’t know what to set boundaries on. Not everything can be the most important, which is the other important thing. We don’t really get that message either. Most messages that we get are, everything’s important and you must do it all, and we just can’t. We can’t do everything, and I’m thinking about life, work, and the rest of our lives, we can’t do everything. Getting to know what’s most important, and sometimes you must ask questions to know what’s most important or even to know what’s important in the moment.


I’ve had people who’ve really changed their entire stress level and activity level at work just by asking the question. Can you tell me how important that is? Or can you tell me when that’s due? Who else or what other work is dependent on me getting this done? Simply asking those questions. It doesn’t have to be done in the next two hours. It just needs to be done in the next three days. That means I can take a breath. That means I can figure out the best time to do that. That is also a part of setting boundaries, just asking questions, then communicating those boundaries, telling people what is and isn’t okay with you, which I realize is easier said than done, and we could probably have a whole other podcast episode just on that part of it.


Then really holding to those boundaries, so you will likely get pushback. Having said that, whenever I have experimented with setting boundaries, it has always been less of a big deal in real life than what it feels like in my head. People care less about you saying no or about you renegotiating something. 95% of the time, they care less than what I think they’re going to care about based on that inner monologue that is going on in my head. Keeping that in mind I think makes it a little bit easier to experiment as well.


Brown: That is a good distinction because I think it’s your perception of how people are going to react, which drives it. I love those practical ideas for reflecting on what is the real root cause of it, prioritizing what’s important, getting clarification from people, and then just trying it out, communicating, practicing. Knowing that it is not as big a deal to other people around you as you think it might be.


The next most popular question was, what if your inner critic is being fueled by external perfectionists? How do you help yourself to not fall into feeling not good enough?


Whelpley: This is a great question because and I feel like there’s both the internal perfectionism and the external perfectionist that this person was calling out, which is such a great thing because yes, people can put their perfectionism onto you. It’s a very real thing. Anyone who’s had a micromanager has probably experienced a manager who’s also a perfectionist telling every little detail to be perfect. I think so many of these things are reminding yourself of your own worth and treating both yourself and that person with compassion to the best of your ability. We never know what’s going on inside someone’s head. Absolutely, we do not know. Likely they have some looping of their own going around in their head and some inner critic telling them, or they’re getting pressure from above or whatever the case may be. Which doesn’t mean it’s okay.


But having some compassion for that and for yourself in the process is always helpful. Really compassion, self-compassion, and others’ compassion is one of the major antidotes to perfectionism in general because with perfectionism, we’re so hard on ourselves and we set these ridiculously unrealistic expectations that we can’t live up to. Therefore, that inner critic comes in telling you, you should be doing more, you’re not good enough. I’m talking in the first person here, but it can also be ascribed to other people as well. I think it’s important to remind yourself of your own worth, and that your worth is not dependent on this person’s feedback.


Also, and we might bring this up a little bit later as well, but I always keep that in mind, and I heard this first in Tara Mohr’s book, Playing Big. I always want to credit her because it’s been a life changing realization for me, which is that all feedback, praise, criticism, neutral feedback, any kind of feedback that you get is always coming from that person’s perspective. Which doesn’t make it right or wrong, it just means it’s coming from their perspective and their perspective is always subjective.


One person might tell you that they love your work, and another person might shred the exact same work to bits and give you tons of constructive feedback or downright criticism in the process. It’s because they’re coming from a different perspective, different experiences, different expectations of themselves, what expectations they’ve being given by other people. It’s always helpful to take that step back and ask, what is this feedback saying about them and their perspective? What is helpful for me in this feedback? What do I need to follow? And then, what do I need to throw out the window? If this is hard for you, even writing down your responses to that can make it clearer about where is this coming from them? What’s really ascribed to you? What’s helpful? And what do you need to throw out the window?


Brown: That is helpful and that gets to that next question of how you can take feedback as feedback and not reinforcement of imposter syndrome. I just love that you know that it’s coming from someone else’s perspective, that reminder that it’s subjective, it’s not objective, and that it’s up to you to figure out what can I learn from this? What’s important? What do I want to throw out? That is great. Do you have any further ideas on how to take feedback as feedback and not reinforcement of the imposter syndrome?


Whelpley: It is an interesting thing that question about reinforcement of the imposter syndrome because there’s nothing worse than when someone tells you what the inner critic is already telling you in your head. That is not great. In addition to what I just talked about there, I think the other piece is looking for real evidence. In the webinar we talked about looking for real evidence as one of the tools to dealing with imposter syndrome and overall, if you’re thinking about imposter syndrome, looking for real evidence is looking for the evidence of your skills, your qualifications, and your experiences. Because of imposter syndrome, the inner critic, our brain, tends to look for the negative. When we look for the positive, we’re getting a more accurate point of view for most of us, particularly if you are experiencing imposter syndrome. But the same approach of looking for the real evidence goes with what feedback should I really take in?


Or even for your own self, if you’re saying that presentation went terrible, this is not good. I need to write it on my development plan, then I need to improve my presentation skills. Take a step back and say, what is the real evidence telling me? In addition to my own being hard on myself, which there’s probably kinder ways to talk to yourself, but regardless of whether it’s real or not, are you getting that feedback from multiple people? Not just one, but multiple people, that this is an area that would be helpful for you to improve. Whatever the result you were looking for from that presentation or your presentations in general, are you getting that result or not? If the answer is you’re getting feedback from multiple people that you could improve this and you’re not getting the results that you desire, that probably is an area that you either want to improve or partner up with someone else and approach it in a different way.


But if your inner critic is saying you’re terrible, you need to improve this, but everyone else is telling you that you did a great job, and you’re getting the results that you are looking for, that’s probably self-doubt, perfectionism, and imposter syndrome. Some combination of that is going on. So, looking for the real evidence goes for this feedback piece as well, whether you’re getting it from someone else or whether it’s completely internal to you.


Brown: I love that point about being able to tell the difference, because sometimes it is hard to tell the difference. I find that many people can’t hear positive feedback sometimes because they have a strong internal critic. You’re like, you did an amazing job. And they’re the first ones to say, no, it was horrible. So, I love just being able to listen, let it in, look for the evidence, and I like the idea of writing it down so it’s not just your mind processing, but okay, these people said this, these people said that. Also like you said, having that growth mindset to develop new skills. If people are saying your presentations could be better, that is a great challenge to take on. It’s not personal, it doesn’t mean that you’re not good at your job. Everyone can grow and develop. That’s what life is about; constant learning, growing, and developing. I love the distinctions you make because they’re subtle, but powerful.


Whelpley: I want to add on to that. I love that you brought up the positive feedback and praise as well. If we’re experiencing imposter syndrome, part of the definition of imposter syndrome that I didn’t bring up earlier is that you are not internalizing your successes. They’re not really sinking in and becoming reality, and that’s an internal process. But it also goes with those compliments that you might get on your work related to what you just said about the automatic response of no, it wasn’t that good, or that’s just what I do. If deflecting the praise that’s coming in is common for you, just make it a practice to pause when you’re getting that compliment. Even if you just say thank you, train yourself to just say thank you instead of negating it. I think is a helpful first step. Allow yourself for a moment to believe or try to believe or pretend to believe that it’s true. That positive feedback coming in is true and it’s like, four different people are telling me I did a great job on this, so am I essentially telling them that they’re all liars by negating this feedback? Probably not. I probably don’t think that they are liars in real life, so maybe they’re telling me the truth and maybe I am good at this. Maybe I did a great job and maybe I can let myself believe that as well.


Brown: Absolutely. I loved in the webinar how you talked about creating a kudos folder, especially for people like that, for when people have said, great job or sent you a positive email just to remind yourself. Because I think sometimes, you’re feeling that the failure seemed so much bigger than the successes. People in the chat really responded to that. I thought that was great.


Someone else asked this final question I’m going to ask you about imposter syndrome that I thought was so interesting. The question was, if you’re prone to imposter syndrome and the environment treats you like an intruder, is it more likely to spike your internal imposter syndrome monologue?


Whelpley: The short answer to that is yes, absolutely. This is why anyone can experience imposter syndrome, absolutely anyone can. I have talked to people of all genders, races, anyone can experience imposter syndrome. It is more likely that people who are from underrepresented groups are either going to experience, there’s some differing research, some research says that they experience it more frequently. Other research says that everyone experiences it, and the frequency is similar, but that the experience of it is not the same. I think that’s where this question is getting to. If you are being treated as an intruder, as if you don’t belong, yes, that is most likely going to spike your imposter syndrome, especially if it’s something you are prone to already.


It makes sense if I think of my perspective as a woman and not every woman’s perspective is different. I’m a white woman sitting here, and I have the privilege of being a white woman and we know that. For example, there’s feedback that’s given to women and even different feedback that’s given to specific groups. In my corporate career, I received some feedback, not all the time, but it absolutely happened that I could be too direct. I have reflected on this because over time that feedback caused me to truly question myself. I wouldn’t say in this instance that it caused a lot of specifically imposter syndrome, but it absolutely caused me to be overly cautious about how I was using my voice, because I didn’t want to get that feedback again. I didn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. All these things like that, because of this feedback that I got.


When I have looked back on that feedback and tried to be as objective as I possibly can, I do not think it ever would’ve been given to me had I been a man. Point blank. I think it would’ve either been ignored and considered a neutral trait or potentially even a positive trait of, you’re young and assertive and sharing your voice. To be fair, some people agreed with that. Some people did think it was positive, that I was assertive in sharing my voice and I also got criticism for being direct. I will tell you, as a white woman, I have gotten this feedback that I’m direct. I’ve never gotten the feedback that I am angry, which is something that a Black woman is a lot more likely to deal with and is a harder thing where there’s more judgment around anger than there is around being direct.


Both feedbacks are based on bias. They’re based on bias that’s out there. I think we need to take apart and really look at a lot of that feedback that we give on style. Many of the expectations we’re telling people of color, women in general, of how they’re supposed to show up, really think if you’re telling someone they need to have more executive presence, what does that mean? Get clear on that and is that based in a definition of how a white male was supposed to show up in 1982 and does it hold true anymore? I’m not going to say yes or no to every single one of those because I think we still need to give feedback on behavior and style, but we need to expand the definition of what is considered professional, leadership, and executive presence, because those are all things that can make you feel like an outsider. Or if everyone is invited to a meeting but you’re not invited to the meeting or to happy hour, all those things can make you feel like you don’t belong when you are smart enough, capable enough, have enough experience to be there.


There is a piece of this, and there are two great articles in the Harvard Business Review. One is called Stop Telling Women They Have Imposter Syndrome. And the second is called End Imposter Syndrome in the Workplace. They are by the same two authors, and they really dive into this cultural aspect of why some people experience imposter syndrome more strongly and that it really isn’t your fault. I do believe that we can do things about it for ourselves as well, such as the tools that I talked about in the webinar, because there absolutely are things. I have worked on my own imposter syndrome, I’ve worked with other people, whether it’s through webinars like this or coaching clients and they have been able to quiet their own imposter syndrome. Not make it disappear, but quiet it over time. There is a bigger picture involved about why you are likely experiencing imposter syndrome in the first place.


Brown: I’m glad you talked about that because with the mentees I interviewed, there are many people that talk about the different playing rules based on gender, race, whatever. That’s one of the things they want their mentor to help them navigate. I appreciate that acknowledgement that there are often different playing roles and that’s something to be dismantled.


Heather, since I have you here, I have another question that’s off topic of imposter syndrome, but I loved your book, An Overachievers Guide to Breaking the Rules: How to Let Go of Perfect and Live Your Truth. There are many great tools in there of what you can do to address some of these big issues that we’re talking about related to imposter syndrome or just in general of being an overachiever. One of the many aha moments I had when I read your book related to the chapter on how to rediscover your creativity. Can you talk about how people oftentimes lose their creative confidence and give us some suggestions for how to rediscover your creativity?


Whelpley: Absolutely. I love that is one of your favorite chapters and it is for many people. I almost didn’t put it in the book because I wondered if it was too off topic. For me it felt important, but I wondered, is this going to feel important to other people, rediscovering your creativity as a part of letting go of overdoing and overachieving?


But clearly it was because I hear it all the time from people. My story is a big part of this, and it’s like many people’s stories in that I did not think I was creative for a long time because I basically wasn’t good at seventh grade art class. I got fine grades, but I looked at what I was producing, and I was like, this is not good. This does not look pretty. This does not look how it’s supposed to look. Art became not fun because I felt I was just terrible at it, and I took this definition of me “not being good at art” into a broader definition of I’m just not creative at all. And I wanted to be, I actively wanted to be creative. Let’s throw out the window the fact that I always was a writer. I always wrote poems, even in high school and I was writing poems. I went to a young writer’s conference and somehow, I didn’t think I was creative, even though that was a part of my life.


It took a manager who was the first one to open my eyes to my own creativity because I was talking in my corporate jobs. I had it written in my development plan that I wanted to be more creative, that I wanted to develop my creativity. I remember one day I sat down with my manager, and I was working on a global leadership development program at that time, and I had an idea for a totally new module that we could do for that program. My manager just sat back, and she said, Heather, you’re always saying how you want to be more creative. You just spouted off a new idea for a new approach to this leadership development program, a whole new module. This is creativity. And I was like, I never thought about it that way.


So, for me, and this is part of what I think all of us can do, is first realizing that you are creative and looking at creativity in a different way. That creativity isn’t just about whether you can paint a pretty picture. I think a lot of us get that message, or even some people probably have a broader definition that might include writing or things like that. But even beyond any of these traditional what we would deem creative fields, creativity shows up in every single part of our lives. It shows up in problem solving. It shows up in telling a story with data, it shows up in so many ways. Part of rediscovering your creativity is rediscovering that you are already creative. We just need to flip around our definition and realize some of those messages that you received as a kid, whether directly to you or indirectly about what creativity means. Then as a step deeper into reigniting that creativity, do some things that are fun that feel like you’re curious about them and letting go of the outcome. This is not about making it look pretty, it’s about the process.


I remember when I still lived in Minneapolis right before the pandemic hit a company opened that still exists. I looked on the website before jumping on here because I wanted to make sure if I talked about them that it still existed. It’s called Curiosity Studio. A few artists started these classes that are about the process and not the outcome. I went to one event where we had stations around a room. In one of them, we painted with a blindfold on, and in another one, we painted on a big sheet of paper, and we could use anything. There were no brushes, and we could use any body part except for our fingers and our hands. I painted a whole picture with my elbow, and it was so fun because it was just about being in the moment, following curiosity, following fun, following what felt good, and how often do we do that in our lives in general, just follow what feels good and fun and what you’re curious about? It can really reignite creativity if we can let go of the outcome and just be in the process of it all.


Brown: Oh, I love that. That is great advice. I’ve been doing some of the practices from your book and they do work and reexamining some of those messages we take on when we’re little, like you said, if you’re not good at drawing a picture in seventh grade, you think I’m not creative. Those are great ideas.


Heather, we have time for three final questions. The first one is, do you have habits or practices that you feel have contributed to your success?


Whelpley: Yes. Most of them are probably not the traditional things that you would think of. One is that sleep is literally the number one priority in my life. That was not true for a long time. I was pretty much burned out and over committed and not sleeping for 25 years of my life. I was always a pretty good sleeper. I didn’t have serious insomnia, but I just didn’t sleep enough, and I’ve always been someone who needs a lot of sleep. When I finally made sleep, the number one priority in my life, my entire life changed because I just felt better all the time. Now, does this mean that I sleep well every single night or that I’m never tired? No, absolutely not. I go through stressful periods where I do wake up in the middle of the night or where I’ve taken on a little too much, or where I choose to stay out late because something fun is going on and then I’m tired the next day and it all balances out. But that has been a huge one for me.


Another piece is getting outside and hiking and just creating space for myself to hear my own internal voice and to do things to reconnect to that and remind myself that I don’t have to take in all the messages that I get around me. I call these the rules, like these rules that I was taught, some of which for many years and still sometimes show up that lead me to overdoing, perfectionism. They still show up. I’m still dismantling those, and I also know that when I can really listen to my own knowing that I’m able to let go of those rules a lot faster. Also reminding myself that every time I listen to my own knowing, good things happen. It’s when I don’t listen to it that either, whether it’s in work or my life, that I don’t make great decisions, or they just don’t have the outcome that I’m looking for. Even if they are “the right thing to do”, or what you’re supposed to do to experience success. I typically haven’t experienced, at least not my own version of success, when I’ve followed what other people, the messages that I’ve gotten about what success is supposed to be like. So, all those practices, hiking, resting, quiet time, journaling, all those things are what allows me to reconnect into myself.


Brown: I love the integration of those practices and thank you for calling out sleep specifically. I think that is one of the biggest issues people have, chronic sleep deprivation and like you said, you start getting enough sleep, you feel like a different person and many things come together. I had a college professor that would constantly tell us, the best thing you can do for your grades is get enough sleep. I remember that vividly. It’s an easy thing to do that makes a big difference.


Heather, what would your advice be to up and coming leaders?


Whelpley: It goes along a bit with that intuition piece. It is great to get perspectives from other people. Despite everything we just said about feedback, feedback is also important. Sometimes you get feedback that is life changing, that opens your world, that makes you change in a positive way. People can open doors, like your mentor can open doors of things you never thought about. All of that is real. So, step one is to take it all in, but then step two is to turn inward and say what is true and right for me.


Often, I can think back to my corporate career at times when I thought, I should do that thing that would be “good” for my career. And in some ways, it was. But after doing it, I thought that was not what I really wanted to do. That was not where my passions were. That was not where my zone of genius lay whatever we want to call that. I needed to take in this feedback from people and other perspectives and I had great managers overall. People who cared about me, who were giving me positive intentioned direction, and I still needed to take that step back and say, what is going to work for me? So that combination, take it in, but then go inward.


Brown: Love that. Then the final question, Heather, do you have a favorite saying, quote, or motto?


Whelpley: There’s a lot, I love quotes. I think one that has stuck with me for a long time though comes from Howard Thurman, and I may not get the wording perfectly, but it goes something like, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask yourself instead what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive”.


Brown: That’s a good note to end on. Heather, I love that. I’ll be thinking about that.


Thank you so much for being my guest today. I appreciate you taking the time to answer the questions from the webinar participants. Your work has helped to normalize imposter syndrome as something most people experience at some point in their career. Thank you for offering practical tools for recognizing and dealing with imposter syndrome, for learning to set boundaries, and figuring out your own internal voice.


If you haven’t read Heather’s book, An Overachievers Guide to Breaking the Rules: How to Let Go of Perfect and Live Your Truth, I highly recommend it. The book is full of specific things you can do to reconnect to yourself. Also, you can tune into Heather’s podcast Create Your Own Rules for Life, which is streaming on all platforms. To learn more about hiring Heather as a speaker for your organization, please visit her website,


Thank you all for listening to this Menttium Matters podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with friends and colleagues. We look forward to having you back for our next episode.