Episode 112: Why We’re Ditching the Term ‘Imposter Syndrome’ with Dr Sarah Goulding

Have you ever felt unqualified to do your job or felt undeserving of your accomplishments? Maybe you’ve received a promotion, but now feel in over your head?

You’re not alone.

Most of us have experienced self-doubt and feelings of unworthiness at some point in our lives. However, telling ourselves we’re suffering from “Imposter Syndrome” isn’t the most helpful way to resolve them – and these feelings may hold the key to ways you can grow, both personally and professionally.

In this episode, Dr Sarah Goulding joins us to talk about imposter syndrome and why we need to drop the word from our vocabularies. We also discuss how self doubt can be helpful to us. Finally, she shares tips for overcoming wobbles and incorporating more self-compassion into your life.

If you want to get over your imposter syndrome and practice self-compassion, then this episode is for you!

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Uncover the reasons people experience imposter syndrome.

  2. Learn how to get over unhealthy perfectionism.
  3. Discover how to cope with negative self doubt.

Episode Highlights

[03:46] The Imposter Syndrome

  • Many people today use the phrase ‘imposter syndrome’ without much thought.

  • Even if you are experienced and talented, impostor syndrome can make you feel like a fraud.
  • It is a catchall term when people doubt their abilities.

[05:38] How Imposter Syndrome is Triggered

  • Imposter syndrome affects those who believe they don’t deserve their professional success.

  • It’s best to expect not to know everything while starting a new career. Learning along the way is normal.
  • Most medical professionals feel pressured to prove themselves.

[08:37] Take a Break

  • Learn to give yourself a break. You can always practice improving.

  • Professionals who work in high-stress environments are more likely to be harsh on themselves.
  • When everything in your job is designed to stifle your advancement, it’s unfair to hear that you have impostor syndrome.

[11:03] Imposter Syndrome and Gaslighting

  • Find out why someone supposedly has imposter syndrome — it may be a more significant problem than you expect.

  • The problem may be organisational or systemic.
  • Telling someone that they may be experiencing imposter syndrome can be a subtle form of gaslighting.

[13:47] How Self Doubt Can Help You

  • Doubting your abilities might motivate you to work harder and achieve more success.

[13:51] Sarah: “Sometimes there are advantages to feeling that you’re not quite good enough. It can spur you to make you work harder, try harder. You can do things that feel uncomfortable.”

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  • Self doubt is healthy when you associate it with a growth mindset.
  • Even influential leaders experience self doubt. You are not the only one experiencing it.

[15:22] Change The Way You Think

  • It’s unrealistic to be perfect all the time.

[17:18] Sarah: “I think we need to have a healthy filter through which we decide what external messages mean for us.”

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  • We are human — expect mistakes. We can, however, grow and change.

[18:36] Sarah: “We are just human beings, and we are going to do our best. And we are allowed to grow and evolve and change.”

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[19:07] Sarah’s Definition of Imposter Syndrome

  • Imposter syndrome is a harmful belief that you must be perfect in all situations and that failure is unacceptable.

  • It may also be a harmful external label that toxic cultures use to relieve themselves of responsibility.

[21:14] Getting Over Unhealthy Self Doubt

  • No one has everything figured out.

  • Examine your thoughts and decide to be kinder to yourself.

[22:18] Spotting Unhelpful Thoughts

  • Mindfulness and journaling can help you overcome negative thoughts.

  • It’s crucial to share your thoughts with friends, mentors, and coworkers so that you can reflect.

[24:59] Leadership and Vulnerability

  • It’s helpful for leaders to reveal their vulnerabilities.

  • When people cannot find areas where they can improve, it means they have a fixed mindset and are resistant to change.

[25:30] Sarah: “If somebody can’t find an area for them to improve on, then I’m worried; because it means that they think they’ve got it all sorted, and they have that fixed mindset, and [aren’t] willing to challenge.”

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[27:31] Leaving Does Not Mean Failure

  • Many professionals opt to stay in careers they dislike to prove they are capable.
  • It’s fair to leave a job when your unique abilities and talents aren’t a good fit.
  • You are not a failure if you are having difficulties at work. It just signifies that you have unfulfilled needs.

[29:43] Rachel: “…when they are struggling with a role, it’s not that they are defective or broken as a human being. It’s that they are a human being with unmet needs.”

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[31:36] The Need For Supervision

  • Medical professionals have access to many coaching and mentorship programs, but they rarely take them.
  • Coaching programs do not tell you what to do; instead, they encourage you in examining your thoughts and determine what is most important to you.

[33:06] Sarah: “[Coaching is] all about sitting alongside you, and giving you a space to inspect some of these thoughts and discomforts and work out what matters to you and how you can move those thoughts along.”

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[35:45] On Inviting Self-Compassion

  • Imagine yourself speaking to a loved one and consider what you would say to them if they were in a similar situation.
  • Acknowledge that you are worthy of self-compassion.

[37:10] Be Vulnerable

  • Vulnerable leaders demonstrate honesty and genuineness.
  • When you’re grappling with self doubt, it’s okay to ask for help.

[39:39] Change The Way You Think

  • Consider the higher purpose of what you’re doing instead of thinking you’re not good enough.
  • Everyone is capable of improving themselves by seeking training and mentorship.
  • We frequently associate success with massive victories. But it could also mean celebrating the small wins.

[43:23] Sarah: “I think we can often set ourselves these goals that are almost insurmountable, and then crucify ourselves for not getting there…So breaking it down into smaller bits. ‘What will be a success for you today?’ is a fantastic question.”

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[44:38] Sarah’s Top Three Tips

  • Examine the source of your self doubt.
  • Share your thoughts with others.
  • Practice self-compassion.

About Sarah

Dr Sarah Goulding is a practising GP who serves as the Training Program Director at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust. She also works as an appraiser and head of coaching for The Joyful Doctor.

Sarah is passionate about her career as a coach and mentor for doctors. She helps struggling medical professionals figure out their career options and their purpose. She also offers local and international webinars and small group coaching services on well-being

You can find out more about Sarah on her website and YouTube channel. You can also connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin.

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Episode Transcript

Sarah Goulding: If somebody feels that they identify with the title ‘Imposter Syndrome’, and I know it’s really common—almost like it’s a badge of honour. But who’s given you that label? Is it you or has it come externally? Actually, it has more of a toxic connotation and that it suits other people to put you in that box? Because it makes you feel unworthy and therefore, that’s an advantage to an organisation, or another person.

Rachel Morris: Have you ever been accused of having imposter syndrome when you’ve been working somewhere where the culture is undermining you at every turn? Perhaps you’ve let self doubt and fear about your own ability hold you back from doing what you really want to do? Maybe you do identify with imposter syndrome, but don’t really know what to do about it. In this episode, I’m joined by Dr Sarah Goulding to talk about imposter syndrome, what it really is, and why it can be such an unhelpful term.

We all suffer from self-doubt sometimes. This can be healthy and spur us into action, but what should we do when our own worries and fears are becoming unhelpful and stopping us doing our job? Well, Sarah and I discuss how imposter syndrome might actually be unhelpful perfectionism and the ways in which that can show up in our lives. We also explore how accusing someone of having imposter syndrome may be a subtle way of gaslighting them— making them think that all the issues in their work are due to self-belief, rather than the obstacles in the system.

Listen to this episode, if you want to find out why a bit of self-doubt can be helpful and spur us in to action; how to change some of the stories we’re telling ourselves to get over unhealthy perfectionism and how to tell if you need to change your own behaviour, or get out of a toxic system.

Welcome to You are Not a Frog, the podcast for doctors and busy professionals in healthcare and other high-stress jobs if you want to beat burnout, and work happier. I’m Dr Rachel Morris, a former GP, now working as a coach, speaker and specialist in resilience at work. Like frogs in a pan of slowly boiling water, many of us have found that exhaustion and stress are slowly becoming the norm. But you are not a frog. You don’t have to choose between burning out or getting out.

In this podcast, I’ll be talking to friends, colleagues, and experts, all who have an interesting take on this and inviting you to make a deliberate choice about how you will live and work.

It’s really great to have with me back on the podcast Dr Sarah Goulding. Now, Sarah’s a career coach for doctors. She’s a practising GP, she’s a training program director, an appraiser and mentor. So welcome back, Sarah.

Sarah: Thank you. It’s lovely to be here.

Rachel: And I’m just wondering how you fit all that in?

Sarah: It’s a carefully woven portfolio that actually—it wouldn’t suit everybody. But it keeps me going and it’s really flexible. I love it.

Rachel: Well, we got you back, Sarah. Because your episodes have been incredibly popular. I think there’s a real interest in career development, and also the sort of mindsets that we get in that stop us—creating a really happy working life for ourselves. One of the things I know many have been talking about a lot is imposter syndrome, this phrase imposter syndrome. Actually, it bugs me a bit and I’m gathering it bugs you too. Is that right?

Sarah: Yeah, I think it’s a phrase that we—it feels like it’s been around forever. I feel like it’s used and abused and I think it can really hold people back potentially. I think we know that about 70% of us will have it. It’s not gender-specific, it’s not specific to any particular role. It’s actually time to get rid of imposter syndrome? And I would argue, yes.

Rachel: Yeah. I mean, when people use it, what do they typically mean?

Sarah: The classic, and I think it came about in the sort of 70s, 80s, and it’s taken to mean, ‘I am functioning in a way where I don’t actually have the skills that people are expecting me to, and I’m going to be found out.’ It’s a fear of being found out as a fraud. ‘I’m not capable in the capacity usually related to work in which I’m employed.’

Rachel: So it’s the sort of blanket phrase used when everyone’s a bit uncertain about their inability, basically?

Sarah: I think so but I think it’s a lot more complex than that and I think that’s me kind of banging the drum here, is to try and really drill down. If that’s the word that’s popping into your head or the phrase or somebody else is giving it to you or labelling you with that. What do you actually mean by that? Because I think there are myriad other things that could be going on in that situation.

Rachel: When people typically come to you, either in appraisals of mentoring or for coaching, and they’re talking about the fact that thing, they’ve got imposter syndrome, what are the sort of spectrums of issues that you see that there’s just put this blanket label on?

Sarah: I think it’s classically when people are moving up into a new role and they are getting themselves really, really stressed about it. They go home, they can’t stop thinking about something they’ve done, they’ve not done, what might their colleagues be thinking of them, because other people are bound to be perfect, and I’m not. That’s one of the assumptions. But I think it can also come about when there are people that are thinking about going for roles. They then also make assumptions that they aren’t capable, they’re not worthy, they don’t have what it takes to step up into those roles, or step sideways.

Rachel: A lot of it is around self-doubt, a lot of it is around fear. But as you were saying that I’ve just been making some notes, moving up into a new role thinking, ‘Well, I’m not qualified for this.’ Well at the very heart of it, you will be qualified because no one would employ you in that role if you didn’t have the qualifications. When we’re saying I’m not qualified, that means am I good enough at what I do to do this? And I just look at the thinking, well, course you’re not, because if you’re moving up to be a manager, or a leader, or a clinical director, you’ve never done that role before. You probably don’t have all the skills that you need for that role, right?

You’re probably going to have to learn some, it’s like when you’re a junior doctor, when you’re starting with your FY job, you’re qualified and that you’ve got the medical qualification, you’ve passed your exams, and you’ve done your sort of skills training. But oh my goodness, how much stuff do you need to learn on the job to be competent in that role, and no one ever expects you to have all that knowledge before you start. I think this idea that we have to be qualified or completely competent before we move into any role is just ridiculous. Am I alone in thinking that?

Sarah: No, not at all. I think particularly as medics we’re funnelled through this training system, where it’s very outcome-based. Once you have passed this exam, you are then worthy of doing x y z. I think it’s particularly common when people have sort of reached what they consider or what the hierarchy considers the pinnacle, or because they get there, and then they’re expected to do more stuff, maybe extra responsibilities, maybe more challenging things, that there isn’t an exam, or there’s not a course for this to how do I prove that I’m good enough? How do I prove that I have the personal skills to perform highly in the way that I would like to?

I think that can be challenging, particularly for medics, and I’m sure it’s true in other high-stress careers, there isn’t a piece of paper that’s going to tell you, ‘Okay, now you’ve got what it takes.’

Rachel: Yeah, and the problem is you don’t get enough feedback ever really, do you? Positive or negative to have something to benchmark against and benchmark your progress? Like, ‘Am I good enough? Am I doing what needs doing?’ I think we always underestimate or we mostly underestimate our own abilities. But also we don’t give ourselves a break and go ‘Well, of course, I’m not good enough, because I’ve not done it before.’ Therefore, I’m not good enough yet. But I’m gonna practise but we find it very difficult to say this “yet” thing.

I think there possibly are some people that get this mindset more than others. I mean, the obvious thing to quote is, and I don’t know what study it was from looking at when men and women are applying for new job. Men will often apply to something aspirational that think, yeah, I’ll be able to do that in the future. Women won’t apply to something unless they know for sure that they can do it now.

Sarah: Absolutely. There are so many elements to this. We could talk for days about it. But we’re often perfectionist when we’re in these high-stress jobs and so it will be incredibly hard on ourselves. There’s a lot of critical self-chatter, and we may be falsely extrapolating. Okay, well, I perceive that something I did at this time didn’t go well. Therefore, that means I’m never going to be good at anything. Or my parents held me to a very high standard of education, that’s how I ended up being a medic. Therefore, I have to keep pushing myself because unless I do, I’m not worthy of praise.

It’s just a very complex area. Also, there’s so that’s the internal stuff and then I think it’s really important to look at the external. I think we both acknowledge, we’re both white middle class, cishet women from a position of privilege. We will look around us and see a lot of people like us, not as many as men as we see. But there are lots of other people who will not see people like them around them. There are systems that are not set up for them to succeed in so in a very real way, they may not feel that they are the right fit for the job, because they can’t see anybody else like them doing it.

Rachel: Yeah, that’s such a good point. I remember reading an article, I think it was in Harvard Business Review, I think I shared it with you, Sarah—written by a black woman, and it stopped telling me I have imposter syndrome when everything in this workplace is set up to tell me that I’m not good enough or to put barriers in my way. But I’m told the problem lies with me and that was a really powerful article.

Sarah: I think this is where it’s really key. If somebody feels that they identify with the title, imposter syndrome, and I know it’s really common whenever I’ve put polls on my Instagram about it or asked friends who say, ‘Oh, yeah, of course’, almost like it’s a badge of honour. But who’s given you that label? Is it you or has it come externally? Actually, it has more of a toxic connotation, and that it suits other people to put you in that box, because it makes you feel unworthy. Therefore, that’s an advantage to an organisation or another person?

Rachel: Because if you could just say to someone, ‘Well, it’s you, Sarah, if you just had a little bit more self-confidence in your own ability, then actually probably, you’d be performing better, and you’d be able to sort these issues out with your team.’ Meanwhile, the team is like, half of their members have left because of stress, and everyone’s infighting. And then there’s toxic management that says, ‘Sarah, I think you’ve got imposter syndrome here, and you just need to put yourself out.’

Sarah: I hear that so much, certainly in my mentoring role, young salary GP’s, who were told, ‘Oh well, everybody else is fine, maybe it’s you.’ When you actually go deeper into what’s going on in the organisation, and how they’re valuing people, the quality of the conversations they’re having, how people perceive themselves to be valued, and what that shows up as there’s a whole set of other things going on. And it’s in the practices best interest to have other people feeling that it’s them.

Rachel: So it’s not imposter syndrome. It’s gaslighting.

Sarah: Absolutely. In that situation, I would strongly agree.

Rachel: And it’s just so difficult to separate out, because you—in that practice that you just, talked about — very, very common scenario, it’s probably a bit of both the system is not set up. Also that that new portfolio GP has got some self-doubt, and is maybe a bit more reticent and worried because of stuff that’s happened in the past, because when they’ve tried to speak up, they’ve been quashed, they’ve been told, like you said, everybody else can manage it. So you do start to doubt your own ability and tasking you around ability is almost a normal part of being human. I think so we’re then pathologising a sort of normal psychological process.

Sarah: Absolutely and actually, let’s be honest, sometimes there are advantages to feeling that you’re not quite good enough it can really spur you on, it can make you work harder, try harder. You can do things that feel uncomfortable. It may have pushed us through quite a lot of difficult situations in the past. Does it make you focus more, or putting you into an uncomfortable situation that because you’re expecting, ‘Okay, well, that’s what I have to go through.’

You’re tolerating more discomfort than perhaps some might feel comfortable with. There’s sometimes there’s an advantage, but I’d rebadged it as self-doubt, or understandable worries about a new situation and I think what we were talking about before is this concept of growth mindset. I’m not there yet. But when you speak to leaders—Beyonce has to go onstage with an alter ego Sasha Fierce because even Beyonce doesn’t feel enough as herself. These incredible people everybody will say ‘I have elements of doubt.’

You’re othering yourself by saying, ‘I’m pretty sure it’s just me.’ I think that’s where connections and speaking to other people can be so helpful in terms of not normalising it, but maybe just ripping that plaster off. ‘Okay. It’s not that it’s something else and what can be done about it?’

Rachel: It’s just sort of recalibrating the way we think about ourselves, isn’t it? Because you obviously don’t want to think too much of yourself. Particularly in Britain, we don’t like show-offs. Do we? We don’t like people that think they are amazing, they’re boasting about stuff that can’t ever learn anything, because they think they’re always right. I mean, that is not good. But nor is it good to be that person who’s so self-obsessed that they won’t ever do anything or put themselves out because what might people think about me or what if I fail? I think that’s another side of the same coin in terms of self-obsession, and neither is right.

But I think it’s bad to be self-obsessed and that really sort of proud, ‘I’m amazing’ way. I think it’s almost pretty bad to be really self-obsessed, and that, ‘Oh, I can’t possibly fail and what will people think?’ Because then you’re just not giving yourself to other people in the way that you should be. The world can’t use your unique skills and abilities and it’s completely paralysing.

Sarah: I think it’s so common. I think I know, we talked before about burnout and how actually, when you really identify I am my career, I am a doctor, and you believe the martyrdom you receive and you staple onto your shoulders, the Cape of Heroism, that you then build up your own inner story about what that means and what that has to look like. It’s often reinforced, you know, as a mum at the school gates in the past, I’ve had people going, ‘Oh, well, come on. Sarah, can you tell me about this’, even though I’m in mum duty, you’re calling me for a problem, when I’m not on call, I’m not on call for the whole world. I’m a mom, I’m a wife, I’m a friend, I’m a mother— I think we need to have a filter, a healthy filter, through which we decide what external messages really mean for us.

But also, crucially, and this is what I’m really passionate about with my coaching and mentoring, is helping people look at what really is important to them. Because helping them look at the consequences. Okay, so if you have to be perfect all the time. What is realistic about that and what does it mean? If heaven forbid, you are not perfect? What then, what does that mean about your self-esteem? Helping them really get to terms with what that means? Because I think sometimes, again, we can take perfectionism on as a badge of pride. Oh, I’m this that classic thing in an interview? What are your faults? ‘Oh, I’m a perfectionist’ is one of the ones that [incorrigible]

Rachel: I’m so bad because I did everything to such a high level that it’s a real fault of mine, that I’m just damn brilliant. Actually.

Sarah: People can be the hardest to work with because they can crystallise themselves into this image, and actually be a bit judgy of others. But actually, we are just human beings, and we are going to do our best and we are allowed to grow and evolve and change. Goodness me, haven’t we changed a lot and had to grow in the last couple of years. And actually, I think that’s really healthy. And I know there have been some incredibly hard times? Identifying as a doctor is a big risk factor, the burnout, that so is perfectionism. It’s reminding yourself that it ain’t no good.

Rachel: So I’m just writing my own new definition of imposter syndrome that we try out with you. So this might be completely wrong, rather than it being about this belief that we’re going to be found out at any point that we’re not quite as good, is we’re telling other people we are. Actually, imposter syndrome is more like an unhealthy belief that you need to be perfect in all situations and that it’s not okay to fail at anything.

Sarah: Oh, I love that one. I’m not very good at coming up with a pithy definition because equally, I would change that into something about something in an internal, fixed unhealthy belief, and more along the perfectionism bit, or an externally given label. Somewhere along the lines of being in a toxic culture or you being in a minority, I’d want to pay tribute to the external factors too.

Rachel: So it’s either an unhealthy internal belief you’ve got to be perfect or an unhealthy, external label from a toxic culture to absolve them of any blame whatsoever.

Sarah: Yes, I like that.

Rachel: Okay, so given that we can only control what we do. It would be nice to be able to control those toxic cultures that are giving us those labels. But unfortunately, we don’t quite yet have the ability to control other people’s minds or actions. Although I’m sure, Facebook is working on that as we speak. What do we do? So Let’s ditch the whole imposter thing that I’m going to be found out and let’s just label it, that’s just normal to have some self-doubt and actually normal. It’s quite helpful because it lets us grow. As long as we don’t think that it’s an issue that we have those beliefs, as long as we keep with a growth mindset, that it’s okay to need to do some development in various areas. In fact, nobody comes as a fully formed thing. So let’s stick with growth mindset. What do we do about it, then?

Sarah: I think if we’re sticking with the internal aspects of it, I think it’s really getting those thoughts out of your head and, and going, what assumptions are you making here? Because so much of them are false. I’m assuming everybody else has got it sorted. Nobody ever has doubts. As we know, from medical exams, whenever something says nobody, never or always, that’s the wrong answer. I think the power to really inspect your thoughts and make choices about how you are going to choose kinder self-chatter. There are lots of different ways of doing that. But helping yourself tune into what am I telling myself to be true and what is true? Then I let that thought, just go by and go, ‘Oh, okay, that’s an interesting one. Off you go.’

Rachel: So how do you spot those unhelpful thoughts? How would you get a thought go ‘That’s not helpful.’ That is?

Sarah: I think it’s like a muscle and one of the ways of doing this is mindfulness. There’s a lot of evidence about the value of mindfulness and your neuroplasticity in terms of helping you create new patterns of thinking. Some people find journaling, incredibly helpful. Just put it all down on a piece of paper, don’t necessarily look at it, but just note within trust what comes up without having any judgement to it. There’s doing it—I work well with talking to other people. Because as it comes out, I know what I think and I don’t necessarily know that.

I think those are some of the ways and obviously, through speaking to friends, colleagues, or mentors, or coaches can help you pick those up. Just sharing your thoughts with trusted colleagues or allies and going, ‘Hey, I’ve been feeling a bit of this is that do you feel like that? Do you feel like we should be feeling that way?’ But being clear on why you’re asking that question without having to pursue the external validation, just having a bit of that triangulation. Because I think it’s incredibly powerful. Normalising these feelings, we know that only over 70% of people have these perfectionist imposter syndrome type thoughts. We’re in the majority. And I think if we normalise it, it’s going to take the power away.

Rachel: I’m interested you said triangulation because when we did the podcast about Gaslighting with James Costello, he talks about triangulation there as well. That really important thing about knowing that it’s not just you. And so, you would triangulate with gaslighting to know it’s not just you, but you can triangulate with your own thoughts to realise that it’s not just you as well. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I’m doing this podcast writing. I’ve had lots and lots of emails from people go, ‘Thank you, because it’s made me feel I’m not alone.’ I think it’s really important that we get together with our peers and our colleagues.

We’re honest about what we’re feeling the story’s going on in our head. Not because like you said, we don’t want people to get ‘Oh, no, no, Rachel, you’re wonderful. Don’t worry.’ Although that’s very nice, he wants people to reflect back the stories in your head and maybe the stories in their head, and when you hear someone else saying it, you’re like, ‘Well, that’s ridiculous. Why are you telling me you can’t get that wrong? How are you supposed to know you’ve only been in that job for three months?’ Then it’s suddenly ‘Oh, yeah, that’s true. That’s made me feel a lot better.’ It’s quite difficult to do that for yourself, isn’t it?

Sarah: It is and I think it’s so healthy when you as a leader to role model that vulnerability. Sometimes when you go through your career, you feel like you should know everything because you’ve got the experience, you’ve got all of this time that you’ve spent in mastery of your job. But actually, one of the red flags for me as an appraiser of over 10 years is if somebody can’t find an area for them to improve on, then I’m worried. Because it means that they, they think they’ve got it all sorted, and that has that fixed mindset and isn’t willing to challenge. I think, as parents, we’re always espousing this way of thinking to our children, ‘Okay, well, you can’t do it now, yet.

But you will do and keep going and that discomfort is really normal. As human beings, we are not set in stone, we are allowed to evolve, and improve. I think one of the downsides of some of this toxic positivity that you can see around you have to always be smiling and grateful, and everything has to feel amazing. Or you’re failing, I think, permission to be kind to ourselves and go there’s a discomfort here, what is that discomfort because some of this might be that you’re not in the right organisation, you’re not working in a team that you feel values you that allows you to be your best self, that actually maybe are not very interested in the job you’re doing. Or you find it incredibly stressful, and you’re just not at your point of thriving and comfort, and you’re not able to perform because of where you are in your career.

Rachel: That is really interesting to me because I have had coachees in the past who have been in incredibly, incredibly tough jobs that are burning them out that obviously, they’re not a very good fit. But they’re sitting there going, ‘I must make this work, I must make this work.’ They have been told, or either they told themselves or they have literally been told by their boss, well, those who managed to do it, ‘So what’s wrong with you?’ And then they’ll say, ‘Oh, I’ve got such imposter syndrome. Because, I don’t think I should be here.’

It’s like, it’s not imposter syndrome— It’s the truth. But the truth isn’t, it’s not because you’re not good enough. It’s because this job does not suit you and your unique skills and abilities and strengths. It’s not that you’re not good enough. I’ve noticed that so many people won’t leave a difficult, bad, bad situation. Because they will not accept the fact that they need to leave because they feel like they’ve failed. Because it’s all about I’m not good enough. But it’s nothing to do with not being good enough. It’s just a day with this job. 100% doesn’t suit you, and you’ve heard that as well.

Sarah: Absolutely. I think there’s such a sense. This is really such a kind of 1950s Victorian era, you have a career, you stay in your path no matter what and there’s this concept that even if you’re at the top of it in inverted commas, you should stay there even if you’re flamin’ miserable. I certainly felt like that as a part. Now, when I wasn’t happy, and I burnt out, I thought, ‘Oh, it’s just because I’m rubbish. Everybody else around me seems to be doing it well and it’s that availability and confirmation bias. You’re in this role and you can see other people that seem to be doing it and enjoying it. I’m the odd one out, it must be because I’m not good enough somehow, or by my failure, or they appointed me and I wasn’t the right fit.’

Whereas actually, it’s totally okay to not want to be where you are. Absolutely, I have loads of conversations about this. ‘Or maybe I won’t be happy in any job.’ That’s really not what I see. I’ve seen people move teams, I’ve seen people move career paths. I’ve also seen people have a look at what’s making them unhappy what they can control, and make little changes that have big effects on their satisfaction. But that’s why I’m so passionate. Really, I think we’re both on the same hymn sheet about just what is it what’s going on for you here and what’s the discomfort?

Rachel: Yeah, I just really wish that people could get into their heads that when they are struggling with a role. It’s not that they are defective or broken as a human being, it’s that they are a human being with unmet needs. What’s happening is that their body and their brains are just doing what a normal body and brain would do under that situation. But people take it as ‘I am weak, I am not good enough, I can’t cope.’ And it’s really nothing to do with you can’t cope, it’s to do if you’re reacting completely normally, as anyone with your particular makeup would be reacting in this situation, but we feel it as a failure.

Sarah: Absolutely. I certainly felt that way, I felt very ashamed. When I left my job when I didn’t really know what I was going to when I burnt out. That’s why I’m so passionate about talking about it. I’ve had people say to me, ‘I’ve been off for six months, I was miserable in my job. But I thought it was just me, you’re the first person that’s ever talked about it.’ And you just think this isn’t how it should be. And I really, I also feel that we should kind of have something along the lines of supervision or build in either career counselling, or a space in which to examine your feelings.

On a regular basis, when we’re in these high-stress situations, we have a huge amount of responsibility. Where do we get that support? How do we be kind to ourselves? I think a lot of this comes down to self-compassion. But it’s very hard to do that when you might feel that you’re working in a broader organisation that doesn’t necessarily care about all that, oh, it doesn’t feel like it gives much attention to it.

Rachel: Yeah, I completely agree with you, Sarah, one of the things that has constantly surprised me having trained as a coach is you and I, as a coach, we have to have supervision. Psychologists have to have supervision, quite rightly, to debrief what’s been going on. But as a practising doctor, you get an appraisal once a year, and some departments do supervision, but most general practices I know, don’t at all. Then we wonder why we have just been left alone with these beliefs that then self-perpetuate and reinforce our brain because we’ve not actually been able to talk them through. I mean, I know that when I’m in my coaching supervision, a lot of it, I’m saying, ‘Well, this and the coach and the supervisors going, but what story you’re telling yourself about that, Rachel?’ , I’m going ‘Oh, yes’, and it’s just so helpful. But we don’t have that structure set up.

And the thing that I don’t understand is that there is a lot of coaching available for doctors, a lot of free coaching available for doctors, a lot of coaching and mentoring schemes set up in lots of different areas, and they’re not being accessed, the people aren’t seeing the value of it.

Sarah: I think it speaks to this whole concept that if I do that I must be struggling or failing. I think there’s a fundamental misunderstanding about what it is or what it can be. I’ve certainly spoken to people, friends who said, ‘Well, if I go to coaching, they are going to tell me this’, that no, that is not how it works at all. It’s all about sitting alongside you and giving you a space to inspect some of these thoughts and discomforts and really work out what matters to you and how you can move those thoughts along. I think it needs a PR campaign doesn’t it, Rachel?

Rachel: Well, we’ll jump about PR for coaching campaign. I think that’s one really good way to to deal with when you think you’re, you’ve got imposter syndrome or someone said, you’ve got imposter syndrome, or you’re really struggling with those stories in your heads. Check it out with your colleagues, spend time sharing how you’re feeling with each other. Get some coaching or some mentoring or something sense check stuff, keep a journal, practise self-compassion and some mindfulness as well. I’d love to know any other tips you’ve got Sarah in a second. Having had this conversation with you, Sarah, I’m beginning to see quite how toxic this concept of imposter syndrome is.

Because not only does it blame you for the problem, rather than external forces, which might be in play. It actually blames the wrong thing. It’s blaming self-doubt, which is actually okay and can be really used for good if we get the stories right in our heads. It’s not blaming this perfectionism, this inability to fail or consider that changing things is okay. It really puts the emphasis on it’s yourself out that’s the problem and it doesn’t acknowledge what the real problem is. So I think we need to completely ditch it.

Sarah: Agreed, bin it.

Rachel: Get it, dump it, but we should be called instead?

Sarah: I think it is too diverse to give it a name and in a way, I’m anti-rebadging something else.

Rachel: I think actually we could call it being human and working in a difficult job. Right? Because you wouldn’t feel like that in the jobs that we all do. Right? Unless you’re a psychopath.

Sarah: Or a narcissist!

Rachel: We know that you’re out there. I don’t think this podcast is probably for them. This is for the rest of us mere humans trying to struggle on with a probably a downplayed version of who we are in our minds because none of us really see ourselves in the way that other people see us. So Sarah, okay, let’s get us out of this. What can we do about it? What top tips have you got for people?

Sarah: What can be helpful when you’re trying to recruit some of these thoughts of self-compassion is to step out of yourself and imagine that you were talking to your best friend, your sister, your partner? How would you talk to them about the same situation? Because that can be a really powerful method of treating yourself in a completely different way that shows much more self-compassion, because acknowledging that we find it hard to receive self-compassion is part of their part of the challenge, I think.

Rachel: I love that. In fact, I was just recording another podcast about how to have difficult conversations. Again, it’s a treat that person as if they were your best friend, be kind of people where we find it hardest to be kind to absolutely ourselves. I did hear someone say, if you could hear the self-talk that goes on in your brain, you’d be utterly horrified. Like, he would never say that not even to an enemy. They just catch yourself doing it. So okay, so you can do that. What else can you do?

Sarah: We’ve talked about journaling. We’ve talked about coaching, mentoring, we’ve talked about talking to colleagues, but with a caveat on that. They may be part of the same groupthink, so that is not always helpful. I think there’s some really interesting stuff to read about this. I think the marvellous Brene Brown has written a lot about vulnerability and shame. The power of allowing yourself to be vulnerable and I think that can be really transformative is just saying, ‘It’s really okay to be honest about who you are, and authentic.’

An authentic leader, an authentic doctor and that doesn’t mean if somebody asks how you are you have to go, ‘Oh, I feel awful. I’ve got an ingrown toenail. And I didn’t like the way the milkman looked at me.’ It can be. ‘Yeah, I’m—’ and this is to the right person. ‘I’m having some doubts about my work, or this week has felt really hard for me, and I’m not really sure why or interacting with these types of people is a struggle and I’m not sure.’ It’s allowing yourself to, again, it’s a way of looking at those thoughts, but going, that’s okay, they are my thoughts. All of my thoughts are valid. But how can I be vulnerable, but not feel ashamed of.

Rachel: Such a great advice colleague of mine, Corrina Gordon-Barnes, who’s often on the podcast too, she’d say about these thoughts that we can identify about some of these stories should say, the question or should ask the question, ‘Why would I be without this thoughts? If I was incapable of thinking this sort of believing it? Where would I be? How would I be acting?’ And that’s like, ‘Oh, that’s an interesting thing.’ If I didn’t think that, well, I just do this. Why don’t you just go and do it, then? That’s been quite harmful and I think asking for help is really important. Not just in a sort of coaching, mentoring, talking to colleagues way. But I think the problem with this belief in imposter syndrome, that self-doubt is bad.

It’s that we then never ask for help if we believe that we have to be perfect and good and feel perfect. We then don’t show vulnerability and not asking for help, can be really, really serious, particularly in medicine, where you could make a massive mistake, if you’re not able to admit that you don’t know or admit that, you might not have the skill to do this, you do need to ask for help. I think understanding that it is okay to fail and make mistakes is really difficult. I’d refer people back to previous podcasts on that.

One thing that I found really helpful recently is changing the stories in our head to ‘I choose to do this so that x, y ,and z.’ If you are working in a job, you’ve got some self-doubt, you’re not quite sure if you’ve got the skills needed. Or you’re thinking ‘Ah, am I good enough?’ You say ‘Well, I’m choosing to work as the leader of this team, so that I can help this department progress in this certain way’ or ‘So that it will free up this other person.’ So I choose to work in this job, even if I don’t feel fully qualified, so that and there will always be a reason—so that. Focusing on that rather than yourself, really, really helps.

If I focus on the fact I’m doing this for my family, I’m doing this for another reason, then actually, it doesn’t really matter, whatever I think about it. If I feel that I’m not quite good enough, I’m doing it for a higher cause and there are things I can do to help myself get better. So seeking training, getting some mentoring, asking for advice, all those sorts of things. This was illustrated really powerfully, for me recently, one of the members of our Permission to Thrive group, which is the membership that Caroline Walker and I run monthly CPD webinars with doctors. Someone came at the end and said, ‘Rachel, I just got to tell you that I’ve used all this stuff, and I was off work and I thought I was just going to leave, but I’m choosing to go back. So that—’ and she gave me the reason and that has really helped.

She said ‘—and if I feel that it’s not for me in the future, I will choose to stop.’ So that, and for her, it just made the difference between being able to go back to work and not being able to go back to work. And I just—Oh, I just love that I was so pleased that just changing this story in the head of ‘I have to, I have to otherwise this will happen. But I choose to.’ So that and that was really powerful. So I think that can help in this sort of situation as well.

Sarah: Absolutely can really help you feel like you’ve got some agency and I think it can be very common to feel that you don’t have any control. You don’t have any power, that you’re in a situation that you cannot influence. But just have even if you are unhappy with some of the areas if you can inspect it all go ‘Well, how can I maximise this, but still decide to stay? It is now my choice to stay?’ It’s very powerful.

Rachel: I think it applies to everything as well. When I first started doing the podcast I had no idea of how to do the podcast and I guess it would have been I’m choosing to put out this podcast, even though it’s far from perfect, and it is still far from perfect. Any feedback people have got for me, very gratefully received. But I choose to say that I can share all this stuff that I found helpful with other people. So I choose to risk failing, or not doing a very good job of it so that I can get better and so that the stuff gets out there. Does this make any sense?

Sarah: It really is. And I’ve, I’ve just started doing a six-minute success journal and it’s this brilliant book and it’s got lots of stuff about mindfulness and setting goals and values. But what I love about it is that it makes you write every day, this will pay will be a success. If and you can put that one thing, and that might be I order my online shop, or I buy home insurance. It’s up to you. I’ve chosen for that to be as small as possible because I think we can often set ourselves these goals that are almost insurmountable, and then crucify ourselves for not getting there. How do you get that reward, that dopamine hit, that feeling of success, if you’re constantly looking at something that’s really, really big? So breaking it down into smaller bits, what will be a success for you today is a really—I have found a fantastic question.

Rachel: I love that journal. Someone gave that to me for Christmas a couple of years ago, and I’ve just used it ever since. It’s brilliant.

Sarah: Well, thanks for telling me.

Rachel: It’s really helpful and I’ve noticed that I started off by — you’re right. Just going ‘Today will be a success if I finished this huge project’, and I do this and that. Actually, it’s enough today will be a success, if I managed to do those webinars I’m doing well. Let’s not put everything else in. Let’s just get through the work today and it really does change your perspective. I’d really recommend it.

We’ll put a link to that in the show notes for people, though. Right. We need to wrap up, Sarah? You’ve already given us lots of lots of tips, but three really quick top tips.

Sarah: Okay, so number one, are your thoughts internal or external? Are your self-doubts self-generated or is it the organisation? Number two, making sure that it’s not just you inspecting those thoughts rolling around your head and finding a way of doing that. Number three, finding a way to find that self-compassion. How can you treat yourself in a way that somebody else would be treated by you?

Rachel: Love that, my three top tips are: it’s okay not to be perfect and no one is. Number two, get a tribe around you. Get a tribe of allies who can feedback to you really neutrally about stuff or with compassion. And my final one would be just, use the phrase, ‘I choose to’. I think that would be very empowering for people. We agreed with ditching the phrase imposter syndrome.

Sarah: It’s gone. Right.

Rachel: I think I might call this episode ‘why we need to ditch the phrase imposter syndrome.’

Sarah: We’ll have to bleep it out every time somebody says it.

Rachel: Well, I can fit a whole course and webinars coming up there on this. You’ve got me thinking!

Sarah: It’s banned

Rachel: It’s banned from now on. Brilliant. Thank you, Sarah, so much for being on—so helpful. If people want to find out more about you and your work. Where can they go?

Sarah: Yeah, I’m basically drsarahgoulding.com is my website and I’m @drsarahgoulding, Goulding with a U in it at Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter, but they can email me at hello@drsarahgoulding.com.

Rachel: Fantastic, so we’ll put all those links in the show notes. We’re gonna get you back another time to talk about another thing around careers, around our internal thoughts, all those sorts of things when you come back.

Sarah: Definitely.

Rachel: Brilliant. Thank you so much. Have a good day.

Sarah: Pleasure.

Rachel: Bye.

Outro: Thanks for listening. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, then please share it with your friends and colleagues. Please subscribe to my You Are Not A Frog email list and subscribe to the podcast. And if you have enjoyed it then please leave me a rating wherever you listen to your podcasts. So keep well everyone you’re doing a great job you got this.

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Dr Claire Edwin and Dr Keerthini Muthuswamy talk about their experiences working within a hierarchical system as junior doctors and share what they have found to be essential if you want to build trust and foster good relationships with your seniors, your juniors and your peers. If you want to know how you can build trust and influence your workplace, and manage upwards and sideways this episode is just for you!

Episode 116: What I Got So Wrong About Mindfulness And How It Might Transform Your Life with Dr Steve Pratt

Dr Steve Pratt joins us to discuss what we really mean by mindfulness, and how it could work for you. He'll debunk some of the myths of mindfulness and how you can make it worth your time and effort. We'll discuss how certain techniques can help us live happier, be less anxious, and harness our resources to make better decisions. Finally, Steve shares his mindfulness practices and takes us on a quick three-minute breathing exercise! If you want to learn about mindfulness, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 114: How to Get an Appraisal that Doesn’t Suck with Dr Susi Caesar

Dr Susi Caesar joins us to talk about how you can elevate and enjoy your professional life with annual appraisals. She shares the purpose of appraisals and how they can help you choose the best way forward in your career and personal life. Dr Susi also gives her top tips on what you can do to make this process more meaningful. If you want to know more about appraisals and how you can benefit from them, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 113: What To Do When A Junior Is Badmouthing Your Colleagues with Dr Ed Pooley

Dr Ed Pooley joins us in this episode to discuss what we should do when we see inappropriate behaviour like badmouthing. He shares how we can manage difficult conversations with the intent of helping others. We also discuss the importance of recognising triggers through the SCARF model. If you want to know how to deal with difficult conversations for a better workplace, listen to this episode.

Episode 112: Why We’re Ditching the Term ‘Imposter Syndrome’ with Dr Sarah Goulding

Dr Sarah Goulding joins us to talk about imposter syndrome and why we need to drop the word from our vocabularies. We also discuss how self doubt can be helpful to us. Finally, she shares tips for overcoming wobbles and incorporating more self-compassion into your life. If you want to get over your imposter syndrome and practice self-compassion, then this episode is for you!

Episode 111: What To Do When You Start To See Red with Graham Lee

Graham Lee joins us to discuss our emotional states and ways to apply simple mindfulness techniques to change them. Most conflicts are rooted in unmet needs. When we admit those needs, we can instantly change relationship dynamics. Graham also shares tips on what to do during stressful situations where your emotions cloud your judgement and thinking. If you want to use mindfulness practice to be more aware of your emotions even during difficult situations, tune in to this episode.

Episode 110: How To Stop People Pleasing And Absorbing Other People’s Angst

Dr Karen Forshaw and Chrissie Mowbray join us to discuss how our core beliefs shape the way we respond to situations. When taken too far, empathy and helping people can be a big cause of stress. In addition, we also talk about we can learn to reframe and reassess their core beliefs. If you want to know how to help people without absorbing their emotions, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 109: Is It Possible To Have Fun At Work? With Dr Kathryn Owler

Dr Kathryn Owler joins us in this episode to share her fascinating research on the characteristics and traits of people who enjoy their current jobs. We dissect the common themes these people have in finding success in their careers. And we also talk about changes we can implement as individuals to make work more fun and enjoyable. If you want to start adopting the mindset people who have fun at work have, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 108: What We Wish We’d Learnt at Med School with Dr Ed Pooley & Dr Hussain Gandhi

Dr Ed Pooley and Dr Hussain Gandhi join us in the latest episode of You are Not a Frog. They discuss the management skills a doctor needs that you won't learn in med school, plus tips to help fresh doctors feel empowered in their workplace. Whether or not you work in medicine, these skills are crucial when it comes to working effectively and managing your own and others’ time. Tune in and listen to the experts talk about the management skills med school doesn't teach you and how to learn and develop them today.

Episode 107: Define Your Own Success In Life With Dr Claire Kaye

Dr Claire Kaye joins us to talk about the importance of honesty and clarity in defining our own success. We may think that achieving certain goals will make us happy, but evidence shows us it’s the other way around. It’s only when we’re happy that we can be successful. We also discuss how to overcome common barriers to our happiness and success such as fear, guilt, and uncertainty. If you want to know how to live a happier and more successful life, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 105: The Simplest Way to Beat Stress and Work Happier with Dr Giles P. Croft

In this episode, Dr Giles P. Croft joins us to discuss how our thoughts and emotions trigger stress signals. He shares his controversial approach to tackling stress, and why most of our efforts to cope better don’t really help at all. We also delve into the importance of pausing to allow yourself to calm down and letting go of the things you can’t control.

Episode 104: How to Cope With Nightmare Relatives and Colleagues Without Losing the Plot

In this special Christmas episode, Corrina Gordon-Barnes shows us how to create the groundwork for a peaceful and successful holiday season, even while navigating difficult relationships with relatives or colleagues. Corrina guides us to relax our expectation of a perfect holiday with our family, so we can face reality in ourselves and others. She explains a simple framework to allow you to resolve conflict, and walks us through what we can do during difficult gatherings and how to shift our responses to create different outcomes. Tune in to improve your strained relationships with relatives and co-workers through empathy and letting go of past assumptions.

Episode 103: How Not to Settle For The Way It’s Always Been Done

Dr Abdullah Albeyatti talks about improving your life and career by making changes and taking risks. He explains why settling for the familiar could be slowly ruining your life and how you can avoid this situation. Finally, he shares his top three tips to become a changemaker in your field. If you want to start doing things differently, creating change, and take more risks, then this episode is for you!

Episode 102: Why FAIL is Not a 4-Letter Word

Drs Claire Edwin, Sally Ross, and Taj Hassan join us to discuss how we can manage and deal with our failures more effectively. We explore the idea that rather than doing something wrong, failure is an opportunity to really grow and learn both as individuals, as leaders and as organisations. In any situation, it’s important to remember that we’re all human. It’s okay to be honest with ourselves and each other about our mistakes - after all, vulnerability is not a sign of weakness. If you want to know how to change your mindset around failure, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 101: Making Helpful Habits Stick with Sheela Hobden

Sheela Hobden joins us to discuss how we can harness the power of checklists to create a routine. She shares how you can approach your goals in a more realistic way and learn to encourage yourself using specific goal setting techniques. Sheela also recommends creating identity-based goals to ensure that you keep building your new identity even after completing certain milestones. Start small, and eventually, you’ll see these good habits stick!

Episode 100: Dealing With the Guilt of Not Being Okay With Dr Nik Kendrew

Dr Nik Kendrew unravels why we experience overwhelming guilt when bad things happen to us. He also shares some tips, techniques, and resources on how to deal with guilt, especially in these difficult times and circumstances. Apart from this, Nik talks about the significance of scheduling our entire day to do important things. Finally, he discusses why setting boundaries is necessary to maintain our sense of self.

Episode 99: How to Deal with Criticism When You’ve Reached Your Limit with Dr Sarah Coope and Dr Rachel Morris

Dr Sarah Coope joins me to talk about the workload of medical professionals and the benefits of setting boundaries while dealing with criticisms amidst the global pandemic. We discuss the three elements of the Drama Triangle and ways to navigate or avoid them reliably. As we dive deeper into the conversation, we explore the art of saying 'No' through acknowledging our limits. Awareness and recognition can go a long way in maintaining our boundaries. If you want to take the first step in recognising your limits, handling criticism better and setting proper boundaries, tune in to this episode.

Episode 96 – How to Deal with Difficult Meetings with Jane Gunn

We hear from the expert in conflict management and mediation, Jane Gunn. She discusses important tips to keep in mind to host great meetings. She shares some practical conflict management tips and how to make decisions that you and your team agree on. Jane also emphasises the importance of putting the fun back in functional meetings and the need to give a voice to participants.

Episode 93 – How to Delegate, Do It, or Drop It with Anna Dearmon Kornick

Anna Dearmon Kornick joins us to share the time management strategies crucial for busy professionals. She lays down tips on how medical practitioners can have more control over their days. Anna talks about how to manage admin time and imparts ways to combat distractions. We also discuss the importance of delegation both inside and outside work. For this, Anna introduces the passion-proficiency lens and knowing your zone of genius.

Episode 92 – How to Avoid Becoming the Second Victim with Dr Caraline Wright & Dr Lizzie Sweeting

Dr Caraline Wright and Dr Lizzie Sweeting join us to discuss the second victim phenomenon. They explain why patient safety incidents are occupational hazards and how they can affect healthcare providers. Caraline then shares her personal experience of being in the “second victim” role. Finally, they share tips on how to avoid second victimhood and how to provide support to someone going through it.

Episode 91 – How to Break Up With Your Toxic Relationship With Your Career with Dr Pauline Morris

Dr Pauline Morris joins us to share her career counselling advice for physicians and other professionals in high stress jobs. We discuss the common pitfalls that lead doctors to unsustainable work habits. Pauline also sheds light on why staying in your comfort zone can be detrimental to your performance. To avert this, she shares tips on how to better recognise and advocate for your own needs. We also learn about the importance of self-care and taking time for yourself.

Episode 90 – What to do About Bitching and Backbiting with Dr Edward Pooley

Dr Edward Pooley joins us again to discuss what to do when colleagues make inappropriate comments about others. We talk about why it’s crucial to consider the question behind the question in workplace backbiting. Ed also teaches us how to challenge in a supportive way. Most importantly, we learn some strategies to prepare ourselves to speak up when the situation requires it.

Episode 89 – Should I stay or should I go? with Corrina Gordon-Barnes

Corrina Gordon-Barnes joins us to share how to better relationships and take control and stay in your zone of power. She shares how to make a good decision by questioning thoughts and assumptions. We also discuss how you can change your perspective to become more compassionate, accepting, and empowered. If you want to know how to better relationships, stay in your zone of power, improve your decision-making skills, and be true to yourself, then tune in to this episode!

Episode 88 – How to Ditch the Saviour Complex and Feel More Alive with Rob Bell

Rob Bell joins us in this episode to discuss the perils of the saviour complex and the desire to keep hustling even when we’re miserable. We learn that taking time for rest and reflection only helps us get stronger. You can’t heal and help rebuild a broken system if you don’t look out for yourself first. Tune in to this episode to find out how to ditch the saviour complex, feel happier and live a more fulfilling life.

Episode 87 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Episode 5: What Should I Do When I Think a Complaint is Unfair? And Other Questions with Drs Sarah Coope, George Wright, Samantha White, and Andrew Tressider

We’re joined by a panel of expert guests to share their thoughts on how to handle complaints. Together, we discuss ways that you can adjust your perspective and respond to unfavourable situations. Most importantly, we tackle issues regarding malicious complaints and how to cope with them. If you’re having trouble managing yourself during complaints, then this episode is for you.

Episode 86 – Gaslighting and Other Ways We’re Abused at Work: What’s Really Going On? with Dr James Costello

Dr James Costello joins us to talk about his new book and the insidious ways that organisations and individuals can undermine us. They compel us to do extra emotional labour for us to cope with the workplace dynamics. We also chat about what happens when authority and power are misused. Finally, James shares some of the disastrous consequences bullying in the workplace can have and what we can do about it. Tune in if you want to know what to do if you suspect that you or a colleague are experiencing relational abuse in the workplace!

Episode 85 – How to have crucial conversations with Dr Edward Pooley

Good communication between colleagues is crucial for the success of any organisation. Dr Edward Pooley joins us again to teach us how to communicate well. He discusses the three strands present in any conversation and helps us understand how we can be more aware of each. We also share some frameworks that can help you navigate difficult conversations. Understanding the importance of emotion is crucial in being an effective communicator and connecting with your team.

Episode 84 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Episode 4: Creating a Workplace Where It’s OK to Fail

Professor Susan Fairley and Dr Jane Sturgess join us to discuss how to create a workplace that doesn’t shy away from failure. We talk about how civility can save lives and also touch on the issues around incident reporting in healthcare. Most importantly, we talk about creating a culture where people can have difficult conversations without defensiveness. If you want to know how to approach failing and speaking up in the workplace, tune in to this episode.

Episode 83 – The Ups and Downs of Being a Man-Frog with Dr Chris Hewitt

Joining us in this episode is Dr Chris Hewitt who also uses the metaphor of a man-frog in coaching professionals to have a better work-life balance. Chris talks about why we find it so hard to recognise burnout. He also shares his top tips and practical strategies to address work dissatisfaction. If you want to stop feeling like a man (or woman) - frog in a pan of slowly boiling water, listen to the full episode.

Episode 82 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Series Episode 3: Surviving the Process

Drs Jessica Harland, Caroline Walker and Heidi Mousney join us in this episode to discuss healthcare professionals’ experiences when dealing with complaints. We talk about the different emotions you may experience and practical tips on getting through. If you want to know how to survive the process after making a mistake at work and receiving a complaint, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 81 – When Soft and Fluffy Met Coronavirus with Steve Andrews

Steve Andrews, Associate Director of Leadership for East and North Herts NHS Trust shares how, through using just five crucial questions, you can check in on people, rather than check up on them. The 5 questions will help you to find out how people really are, help them look out for their colleagues, empower them to solve their own problems AND communicate empathy and support. Want to know how you can apply compassionate leadership in your organisation? Then, this episode is for you.

Episode 80 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Episode 2: What to Do When You Make a Mistake with Drs Clare Devlin and Dr John Powell

Drs Clare Devlin and John Powell join us to discuss the proper way of responding to professional mistakes. We talk about why doctors have a hard time whenever they make a mistake at work. Clare and John also share valuable advice on minimising negative consequences and getting a good outcome for you and your patient. If you want to learn a roadmap for what you should do you make a mistake at work, then tune in to this episode.

Episode 79 – How to Give Yourself Permission to Thrive with Dr Katya Miles

Dr Katya Miles joins us once again to talk about burnout and giving ourselves permission to thrive. Having experienced work burnout, Katya shares her story and discusses the red flags of burnout. We also talk about why we find it difficult to give ourselves permission to thrive and how we can overcome our own internal barriers. If you want to learn about how you can listen to your needs so that you can thrive in work and in life, then this episode is for you.

Episode 78 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Series 1: Preparing to Fail Well with Drs Sarah Coope, Annalene Weston and Sheila Bloomer

Drs Sarah Coope, Annalene Weston and Sheila Bloomer join us in this first episode in a new series on ‘Complaints and How to Survive Them’ to talk about coaching doctors and dentists through complaints made against them. We also talk about the perfectionist mindset and how changing our perspective towards failure can help us and those around us. If you want to know how to deal better with complaints made against doctors and other professionals in high-stress jobs, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 77 – Denial, displacement and other ways we neglect ourselves with Dr Andrew Tresidder

Dr Andrew Tresidder joins us to talk about how many medical practitioners and other professionals in healthcare and high stress jobs neglect their health and well-being. We're so focused on taking care of others that we forget to take care of ourselves but our well-being is vital if we want to keep doing the work we do. Find out why healthcare professionals need to learn more about health, as opposed to only learning about disease and if you want to know how to focus on taking care of your health and well-being, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 76 – Tech Tips for Happy Hybrid Working with Dr Hussain Gandhi

Dr Hussain Gandhi, or Dr Gandalf of eGPlearning, joins us in this episode. He is a GP, PCN director and host of the eGP Learning Podblast that shares deep dives into health tech for primary care. He shares his tech and time hacks for hybrid working to survive and thrive in the new virtual environment. If you want to find out how to improve your hybrid working experience, then tune in to this episode!

Episode 74 – Managing your Time in a System Which Sucks with Dr Ed Pooley

Dr Ed Pooley joins us in this episode to share his take on time management techniques for busy individuals. He discusses the three types of competing demands and how to manage them. We also talk about being more comfortable holding difficult conversations about workplace issues - vital to help change the environment we work in. Tune into this episode to discover how time management techniques and communication can help you get a calmer and more time-efficient workplace.

Episode 73 – How to Find Your Tribe: The PMGUK story with Dr Nazia Haider and Dr Katherine Hickman

Dr Nazia Haider and Dr Katherine Hickman join us on this episode to discuss the importance of a work community. We talk about the inspiring stories from the online community they created, the Physicians Mums Group UK (PMGUK). Nazia and Katherine also share their tips on how to increase connections and find your own tribe at work. If you want to know how to create a network of supportive colleagues and feel more connected, then tune into this episode.

Episode 72 – Working well – from anywhere! with Dr Katya Miles

Dr Katya Miles joins us to discuss how to work well from home by creating healthy boundaries. She shares how to be more productive by using the third space hack and taking breaks. Katya also talks about how to be more active and better connect with people in the workplace. If you want to learn about working well from home and achieving a better work-life balance, then tune in to this episode.

Episode 71 – Create a Career You’ll Love with Dr Claire Kaye

Dr Claire Kaye joins us to discuss how to find a career you love. As an executive coach specialising in career development, Claire is an expert in guiding people how to find a career they love. We talk about the value of job networking and diversifying in our career journeys. We also share our tips and experiences on how to find a career you love. We do this by helping you identify the roles that best suit you and how to go about getting these roles.

Episode 70 – How Safe Do You Feel at Work with Scott Chambers

Scott Chambers joins us to talk about why we need to make people feel comfortable and safe enough to speak up in their workplace. When we create psychological safety in our team, we improve overall happiness and boost performance! If you want to learn how to create psychological safety for a better and happier team - whether you’re the boss or not, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 69 – Make Time for What Matters with Liz O’Riordan

Liz O'Riordan joins us to share productivity life hacks. These have helped her transform how she approaches work. Now, Liz can spend quality time with her family and enjoy life. In this episode, she teaches us how we too can achieve this. If you want to learn some new life hacks, beat burnout and work happier, then tune in to this episode!

Episode 68 – The Revolutionary Art of Breathing with Richard Jamieson

Richard Jamieson discusses how we can utilise breathing techniques to feel calmer, make better decisions and be more productive. He explains the different steps we can take to change our breathing patterns. When you’re in a high-stress situation, remember this: just breathe. If you want to know how to use breathing techniques to beat stress in everyday situations, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 67 – Bringing Your Best Self to Work with Dr Sarah Goulding

Dr Sarah Goulding discusses how to bring your whole self to work without leaving bits of you behind. Sarah shares her own story of experiencing burnout at her old job and rediscovering her true passion. We also discuss how applying our core strengths to our jobs can mean the difference between burnout and having a sense of fulfilment. Don’t miss out on this episode if you want to learn more about how to be yourself and how to bring joy back into your work!

Episode 65 – Passing the Naughty Monkey Back with Dr Amit Sharma

Dr Amit Sharma joins us to discuss the effects of taking on too many of other people’s ‘naughty monkeys’. We talk about why professionals in high-stress jobs so often take on the rescuer role and how to shift that mindset. Amit and I also discuss the importance of empowering patients to take control of their own health. If you want to know how to avoid being weighed down by too many naughty monkeys, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 64 – What to Do When You’re Out of Fuel with Dr Jess Harvey

Dr Jess Harvey, a GP partner and GB triathlete, talks about what happened to her after running out of fuel and feeling burnt out. She discusses how we often ignore the symptoms and signs for too long and why resting and refuelling is as important as what we're doing in the first place. If you’re feeling burnt out, tune in to this episode to find out how you can plug the holes in your energy bucket!

Episode 63 – How to Survive Even When Times are Tough with Dr Caroline Walker

This episode is part of the COVID-19 Supporting Doctors series, and joining us again is Dr Caroline Walker. She's here to discuss why rest is crucial, especially for people in high-stress jobs. Caroline also shares key strategies that can keep us going through the crisis. The previous year has been tough, so don’t miss this episode to start 2021 better prepared.

Episode 62 – Self-Coaching for Success with Dr Karen Castille, OBE

Dr Karen Castille joins me in this episode to discuss her book on self-coaching. She shares powerful questions to ask yourself which will jumpstart your self-coaching journey. She also talks about the importance of developing this vital skill and crafting powerful life questions. Before we close the show, Karen gives her top tips for self-coaching. Don’t miss this episode if you want to learn how you can find clarity and achieve success through self-coaching!

Episode 61 – The Self Help Book Group on Happiness with Dr Nik Kendrew

In this episode, You Are Not A Frog regular Dr Nik Kendrew joins me to discuss the concept of happiness. We tackle the everlasting question of ‘What is happiness’? We also talk about perfectionism and fear and how these can hinder us from doing the things we want to do. At the end of the show, Nik and I give our top tips to being happier. If you want to know more about living a happy life, then this episode is for you.

Episode 60 – Creating a Workplace that Works with Dr Sonali Kinra

Dr Sonali Kinra joins us to discuss why people leave their jobs and how to prevent it. We talk about the importance of workplace culture and its role in creating an environment that makes people want to stay. We also discuss why you need to seek opportunities that broaden and develop your career. Don’t miss this episode if you want to find out how to keep yourself in a job you love.

Episode 59 – A Social Dilemma? With Dr James Thambyrajah

In this episode, Dr James Thambyrajah joins us to talk about social media’s subtle yet profound effect on our daily lives. We discuss the perils of being unaware of how our online decisions are influenced. James also shares his insights on how we can improve how we stay informed and inform others. Tune in to this episode if you want to learn more about how to go beyond your digital echo chamber.

Episode 55 – The One About Alcohol

Dr Giles P Croft is back to chat with Rachel about his experiences following a revolutionary read he was recommended. You might remember Giles from episode 46, where he talked about how as humans, we naturally default to happiness.

Episode 52 – A year of the frog

The week’s episode is a special one as the Frog celebrates a year of podcasting! It’s been quite a year - including charting in Apple’s Top 100 Business Podcasts in the UK!

Episode 50 – Freeing yourself from the money trap

Joining Rachel in this week’s episode is Dr Tommy Perkins, as well as being a GP Partner, and father, Tommy is one half of Medics Money. Medics Money is an organisation specifically aimed at helping doctors make better decisions with their finances. It’s run by Tommy and Dr Ed Cantelo who is not only a doctor but a qualified accountant.

Episode 49 – The Self Help Book Group No 2 with Nik Kendrew

This week Rachel is joined by You Are Not A Frog regular, Nik Kendrew. Last time Nik joined us, we discussed a book that has helped him in his professional life as a GP, trainer and partner as well as his personal life. Nik’s back this week to talk about another brilliant book and to share what insights and learnings he’s gained from it.

Episode 47 – How to Have a Courageous Conversation

Rachel talks with Beccie D'Cunha about the conversations that we avoid and the conversations we really need to have with our colleagues, teams and managers. They can be described as difficult conversations, but we can redefine them as courageous conversations - because ultimately it takes courage for both parties to listen and be heard.

Episode 46 – Default to happy

Rachel talks with Dr Giles P Croft about his take on how to beat stress and burnout. Giles  is a psychology graduate and former NHS surgeon who stepped aside from clinical practice for a decade to explore a number of career paths, including health informatics, cycling journalism, public speaking and high street retail with his wife.

Episode 45 – Rest. The final frontier

Rachel is joined by Sheela Hobden, Professional Certified Coach, wellbeing expert and fellow Shapes Toolkit facilitator. We talk about why rest isn’t just important for wellbeing, but important for productivity and creativity too. 

Episode 40 – Leading with tough love with Gary Hughes

In this episode, Rachel is joined by Gary Hughes, author of the book Leadership in Practice, blogger, educator and facilitator who is a Practice Manager by day. We chat about how leadership in the COVID-19 crisis has had to adapt, and the different roles that a leader has had to take.

Episode 37 – How to manage conflict during COVID with Jane Gunn

Rachel is thrilled to welcome back Jane Gunn – lawyer, mediator and expert in conflict resolution who has been known as the Corporate Peacemaker. This episode is for you if the thought of addressing a difficult issue with one of your colleagues send you running for the hills…

Episode 20 – A creative solution to stress with Ruth Cocksedge

In this episode, Rachel is joined by Ruth Cocksedge a Practitioner Psychologist who started her career as a mental health nurse. She practices in Cambridge and has a particular interest in EMDR for PTSD and creative writing as a way to improve mental health and wellbeing.

Episode 11 – The magical art of reading sweary books

In this episode, Rachel is joined once again by Dr Liz O’Riordan, the ‘Breast Surgeon with Breast Cancer’, TEDx speaker, author, blogger, triathlete and all round superstar who has been nominated for ‘Woman of the Year’.

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