10 Questions To Ask An Imposter Syndrome Coach, Before You Work With Them [Episode 50]

If you've hit a wall with DIY Google methods of clearing your Imposter Syndrome and you're ready to hire a professional to help, then this episode is especially for you.

No, I'm not selling my coaching services (I rarely coach imposter syndrome these days) but I have seen an explosion of coaches claiming to clear imposter syndrome without the proof to back up their claims.

The hard truth is that classic coaching methods are not up to the job when it comes to working with imposter syndrome. So you need to know who to trust when hiring someone to banish your imposter syndrome.

To make sure you find the right coach, I’ve created this episode to guide you through the questions you need to ask before hiring an imposter syndrome coach. So that you can be sure you’re getting the help you need from someone who has those advanced skills.

What You'll Discover Today About 10 Questions To Ask An Imposter Syndrome Coach, Before You Work With Them

  • The Basta Moment! And why you need to experience this before you can ditch Imposter Syndrome
  • 10 Questions to ask your potential Imposter Syndrome coach
  • The pitfalls to avoid when hiring a coach
  • Why I don't teach classic coaching and why this matters
  • The problem with the coaching industry (and why it's an opportunity)
  • And how you can avoid a "cobbled together" approach that might do more harm than good.

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Speaker 1 (00:00)
Welcome to Episode 50 of The Ditching Imposter Syndrome Podcast. Today's episode is for you if you have been thinking of getting yourself some support with ditching imposter syndrome, going beyond the DIY or supported DIY approach, and you have had my favorite Italian word moment that means you have had enough of imposter syndrome and you're ready to take action. In this episode, I'm going to share with you pitfalls to avoid, the big problem with the coaching industry and why that's actually an opportunity, and 10 questions you need to ask your potential imposter syndrome coach before you sign on the dotted line to work with them. So I shifted to specializing in imposter syndrome back in 2003. That is now over two decades ago, and I have seen so much change in the industry, much of it incredibly welcome and positive. And if you're listening to this episode when it comes out in that gap between Christmas and New Year and one of your New Year's resolutions is to finally ditch imposter syndrome to set yourself free from this, or if you've decided that at any other time of the year, this episode is for you. So we're going to start by looking at my favorite Italian word.

Speaker 1 (01:16)
This is the word you need to experience before you take action to ditch imposter syndrome. And my favorite Italian word, if you've hung out with me for a while, you will know it is basta. It's like pasta with a B, and it means enough. Enough. I'm done. I am done with the imposter syndrome coping strategies. I am done with pushing on through the fear. I am done with playing small. I am done with holding back on speaking up with my ideas. And even if the thought of setting myself free from this is secretly terrifying, I am done with letting imposter syndrome decide which version of me I become. I'm done with letting imposter syndrome dictate the impact my ideas and dreams can have. I am done with lying awake at 3:00 in the morning, worrying that today might be the day they find me out. So what happens when you have your basta moment? Enough. And you say, This stops here. You might not know all the pieces of the solution yet, but when you've made that decision, it's as though the universe conspires to support you. You have made a choice, and in that moment, the change can happen.

Speaker 1 (02:30)
And one of the very common solutions people look for when they've had their basta moment, that's when they tend to shift away from consuming free or low-cost information. That's when people tend to realize, You know what? It could take me a very long time to figure out how to set myself free from imposter syndrome once and for all if I'm relying on Google. It might take me longer than I want if I'm just using self-help books or listening to fantastic podcasts like this one. There comes a point where you need the deeper work and the accountability and someone to help you unpick what's missing. I remember back during the Iraq war, Donald Rumsfeld, who was an American politician, famously talked about unknown unknowns. We don't know what we don't know. One of the reasons why I don't do or teach classic coaching is I don't actually agree with the statement that clients or I have all the answers we need inside of ourselves because we have blind spots. We don't have those answers. If I had all the answers I need inside of myself for every problem I've ever faced in my life, well, it's just really hard to imagine.

Speaker 1 (03:46)
Everything from when I broke my kneecap once on holiday through to knowing how to originally rid myself of imposter syndrome. These are things that actually I'd rather go to an expert for. And classic coaching is often very collaborative and question-based, asking the client questions so they can figure out their own solutions. But if there is a proven science-backed, researched way of ditching imposter syndrome as quickly and easily and effectively as possible, why make the client reinvent potentially a very square-edged wheel? This is why I don't do classic coaching, and there is a problem with the coaching industry because this is where most people are turning when they want to actually finally ditch imposter syndrome. The coaching industry is not regulated. That means anyone can call themselves a coach. There are training courses out there where people just do the equivalent of a weekend's worth of training and they get to call themselves imposter syndrome-informed coaches, even if they have no previous coaching experience. And things like that really scare me because this is deep work. This is not just something that any old coach can handle. The skills that you need to support you in the identity-level work for imposter syndrome are actually pretty advanced, and I would not want to be working with a beginner on this.

Speaker 1 (05:13)
But there's also an opportunity in the fact that the coaching industry is not regulated because it fosters innovation rather than everyone being shoehorned through the same sausage machine processes as everyone else. But it does mean you have to really do your homework before choosing which coach to work with. So how can you tell who actually has the advanced skills you need and deserve compared with those who simply have shiny marketing and big promises? That's what this episode is here to help you with. So before we start, this is not going to be a mega pitch to come and work with Claire. I take on very, very few one-to-one coaching clients these days because almost all of my time is going into supporting the people who are training on my natural resilience method practitioner program and my imposter syndrome Master Coach program. And that means I only take a handful of clients a year. Those places are booked up well in advance. I don't need to use this podcast to market that work. So this podcast is my gift to you and your future to make sure that whoever you decide to work with on this actually deserves to get to walk by your side on this journey.

Speaker 1 (06:29)
I've seen an explosion in coaches claiming to have imposter syndrome skills because it's cool, it's trendy, it's everywhere now. I know that I've got to accept some responsibility for that, having opened up that market to a certain extent with our research study, my books. But a lot of these coaches making big claims about imposter syndrome have got no formal training, or they've got certificates that they were given just for showing up to a weekend's worth of calls. They haven't actually been assessed. Nobody's checked they've understood what they're doing. And even if they have done some of these courses, there's nobody actually making sure that they know how to implement this safely and effectively with clients. Too many will be with the best of intentions simply passing on their personal coping strategies and sticking plaster. In fact, I was talking with a coaching training organization recently that said I was offering to work with them and they said they didn't need my work because their coaches were able to cobble things together to support their clients with imposter syndrome already. Now, I don't know about you, but I think you deserve better than that. You deserve to work with coaches who've got the experience, who've got proven processes and strategies, and above all, shortcuts.

Speaker 1 (07:45)
Why make this any harder than it already feels? You deserve to work with people who can actually share proven science-backed research processes that mean you know you'll see the transformation at their promising. So most coaching journeys start with a discovery or chemistry call. So what I've done is I've used my research and 20 years of specializing in this field to create a list of 10 questions you can ask in those calls to make sure you're working with the real deal. And before we go any further, I'm not just giving you these 10 questions on this podcast episode. I've also created a workbook for you so that you don't have to scribble down notes right now. You can just listen, just get an image, get a sense of what it would feel like to work with a coach who can actually answer these 10 questions because I want you to leave at the end of this episode full of hope and excitement about this next stage of your journey. So I want you to go and download this workbook right now. The link is in the show notes and you can find it at ditchingimpostersyndrome.com/10 questions.

Speaker 1 (08:52)
That's 1 0 questions or just click the link in the show notes. That has got all the questions in there space for you to make notes. Then there's a little table for you to tot up a score out of ten for each of the questions to look at what your decision is and why so that you're making an informed choice. And then at the end, I've got another gift for you, which is the option, free of charge, to go and take my imposter syndrome scorecard. This gives you science-backed 20 quick-fire quiz-style questions that will give you your imposter syndrome risk score, let you know which the three hidden drivers is actually the one you need to start with and it gives you a personalized action plan of steps you can start taking today to turn imposter syndrome around while you're looking for your coach to go and support and work with you. Let's dive in with these 10 questions, a whistle-stop tour here. Question number one that you should be asking somebody who claims to be an imposter syndrome coach before you hand over your hard-earned money. What is the difference between imposter syndrome and self-doubt?

Speaker 1 (10:04)
Most coaches should be great at helping you to handle self-doubt to crank up your confidence. But that's work at the mindset level. Our research studies show that imposter syndrome is actually an identity-level issue, so it needs different tools. This is why if you've been trying mindset and confidence work and it's not really shifted that secret fear of being found out for you, it's not your fault. It's the wrong toolkit. It's like asking an electrician to fix your hot water system. And this deeper identity level work is actually a very specialist skill set. It's like heading into master's degree level or even PhD from the coaching world's perspective. If a coach uses just mindset and belief level strategies with you to clear imposter syndrome, you risk staying stuck with coping strategies. Our research studies have actually found that working on mindset alone for imposter syndrome can actually make it worse because it raises your awareness of when it might strike and when you might self-sabotage, but doesn't actually give you the tools other than gritted teeth, brute will-force determination to push on through. It doesn't give you the tools to avoid it. I've got a podcast episode for you that goes into more detail on why the difference is so important.

Speaker 1 (11:21)
That is episode seven of ditching imposter syndrome, and that is question one, what is the difference between imposter syndrome and self-doubt? And heads up, if they can't give you a coherent answer on that, please run. Question number two, how do you approach identity-level work as required for imposter syndrome rather than just mindset-level coaching? This question will give you information on the coaches methodology. You probably want to avoid someone who is winging it or figuring it out. For something as complex as imposter syndrome, they're unlikely to be able to give you confidence that you're going to get the results and the transformation you're looking for. And a great coach will be flexible, but you still want to make sure they've got a proven process or framework that they will be able to guide you through rather than just, Hi, give my clients what they need in the moment. You can help somebody to work through a process and a strategy without becoming rule-bound. You can still have that flexibility. But if those proven foundations are not there, you're unlikely to get the results that their shiny sales page is promising. And if they tell you that mindset and belief work is enough to clear the hidden root causes for imposter syndrome, please seriously consider working with someone else.

Speaker 1 (12:40)
Question number three, what specific training and certifications do you have related to imposter syndrome and how were they assessed? Now, you can have brilliant coaches who were never traditionally trained, and you can have coaches with an entire filing cabinet full of certificates who still don't know what they're doing. This is not me banging the drum of you have to have certain qualifications that have been signed off by certain institutions. This is, however, to ensure that the coach has been properly assessed as being competent in this deeper, identity-level work. Some imposter syndrome coaching courses give out badges and certificates just for showing up. Did you know that? I mean, that blew my mind when I heard that. You can get a certificate credentialed in imposter syndrome coaching just by watching online videos. You never actually have to prove that you know what you're doing or you're safe, or you can actually generate the results that your clients are paying you to. Ideally, you want to work with a coach who's had to complete assessed client case studies and assignments where there has been rigor in their training, making sure they know how to apply this work.

Speaker 1 (13:58)
There is an enormous difference between information and implementation. And it's also worth asking what CPD, continuous professional development they do to make sure they stay current with the latest research and developments in imposter syndrome. It's a fast paced area. The other reason for asking about specific training and certifications is sometimes somebody might have managed to achieve something for themselves. But there is a really deep skill in being able to reverse engineer what you did at a subconscious level to be able to deconstruct and teach that to others in a way that allows them to get the same results. I know this because I've spent 20 years doing it. My background as a Six Sigma engineer and then an NLP trainer means that being able to pull out those key bits that make the vital difference is something I have lived and breathed for two decades. But so often when I do courses for my own continuous professional development, I realize that the people have achieved fantastic things, but they don't really understand exactly what it is that other people need to do to be able to replicate that result. But we'll come onto that in a later question.

Speaker 1 (15:10)
So question three was, what specific training and certifications do you have the coach related to imposter syndrome and how were they assessed? Question four, can you share a case study or example where you have successfully helped a client to overcome imposter syndrome? By asking for real-world examples, you're going to get a sense for the coach's practical experience and the effectiveness of their methods in helping clients to move beyond coping strategies and sticking plaster. You're going to be investing time, money, and above all, hope into this coaching work. So it's essential to know that they have a track record of getting results for a wide range of clients. And if they can't give you any examples, firstly, they must be anonymized. Do not work with a coach. That's like the train of thought. Is it sharing names without written consent from their clients because you never know if that could be you next. But if they can't share examples, then it might not be the right time for you to work with them yet. So that was question number four. Can you share a case study or example where you have successfully helped a client overcome imposter syndrome?

Speaker 1 (16:20)
Question number five, how do you ensure that your coaching doesn't inadvertently exacerbate imposter syndrome? Our international research studies have shown that coaching risks making imposter syndrome worse by raising awareness of when someone might self-sabotage, but not doing the deeper change work to allow them to prevent it. It's really essential to make sure that your coach is aware of this risk and will help to make sure that this doesn't happen to you. So that's question five. How do you ensure that your coaching doesn't inadvertently exacerbate imposter syndrome? And remember, I've got a workbook for you as my gift with these questions a space for each one to give a score out of ten for the answer and scribble some notes to help you make your decision. You can download it right now at ditchingimpostersyndrome.com/10 questions. That's one, zero questions or just click the link in the show notes. Question number six, can you describe your ongoing professional development in the field of imposter syndrome coaching? Any good coach or mentor should have regular coaching supervision because client experiences can trigger them and they need a supervisor who is further ahead of them in the journey.

Speaker 1 (17:37)
And in fact, many insurers insist that they have this and asking about insurance and whether their insurance covers them for imposter syndrome work is another really useful thing to do. Now, the field of imposter syndrome work is fast-changing and it's important to make sure that your coach has regular CPD. That's the continued professional development we've already mentioned, to make sure their skills are up to date. This CPD also shows they're committed to imposter syndrome work and not just jumping on the Oh, it's so trendy bandwagon. So, for example, people who graduate from My Imposter Syndrome Coaching Certification Problems get grads only membership of my Soultuitive of Coaching Lab. That includes their monthly supervision calls, it includes continuous professional development, it includes masterclasses from world experts on all aspects of this field, and it makes sure they've always got access to the latest techniques and the latest findings from our research studies. Question seven, in what ways do you help clients in becoming free from imposter syndrome rather than just focusing on coping strategies? This is a really, really important one. One of the things that I find is a lot of very heart-based, well-intentioned coaches, therapists are working with people on imposter syndrome based on what they've done for themselves, but they haven't really set themselves free from it.

Speaker 1 (19:02)
They just cope with it better. Can they support you in creating lasting transformation? Or will you stay stuck with imposter syndrome but simply handle it better? It will bother you less. The reason this is so important is they can help you to cope in that moment in your current culture, environment and habits, the three pillars of imposter syndrome that we covered in the last episode. Go and have a listen to that if you want to know more. It's number 49. But as soon as something changes in those previously dormant imposter syndrome risks coming out to play. So, for example, they can help you to cope in your current job, in your current company with imposter syndrome. But if you are offered a promotion into a different function within the company, can they make sure that imposter syndrome won't cause you to self-sabotage? If a coach tells you that imposter syndrome is incurable or inevitable or even a good thing, please run. It means they do not have the skills you need to be able to set you free. They can't take you to a place that their unconscious mind believes is impossible. And I've got a podcast episode that can help you with this.

Speaker 1 (20:12)
It's ditching imposter syndrome, episode 24 that explains why you shouldn't fall for the myth that imposter syndrome is incurable, and it's something that's often told by people who don't know how to fix it. Question eight, how do you measure the success if you're coaching in addressing imposter syndrome at an identity level? Coaching can feel a bit nebulous, a bit fluffy, and measuring behavioral belief and identity-level change is not easy. But one of the biggest blocks for clients is the fear that the coaching intervention will work for everyone else but not for them. So it's great when coaches have an objective way to help you to measure the progress you're making. For example, for my natural resilience method practitioners and my imposter syndrome master coaches who've been through my certification program, we use an extended version of the scorecard that you'll find link in the show notes and also in your workbook, ditchingimpostersyndrome.com/10 questions. We use an extended version of that scorecard to measure conscious and subconscious changes. This means we've been able to prove across thousands of people how effective these interventions can be. So question eight, how do you measure the success of your coaching in addressing imposter syndrome at an identity level?

Speaker 1 (21:38)
Question nine, how would you describe your own personal journey and experience with imposter syndrome? I've worked with business coaches for my own business in the past who refused to believe that imposter syndrome even exists. I'm seeing plenty of coaches on social media who claim that it's incurable or even something to celebrate. There's a recent rash that's happened in the past year, as I'm recording this at the end of 2023, of coaches out there even saying that imposter syndrome doesn't exist, it's made up by the patriarchy to hold women back and that anybody claiming to help people with imposter syndrome is somehow a fraud. I mean, it's all just ridiculous. If you've got a coach saying that thing, they're not going to help you to clear this. They're likely to increase the shame that you're feeling, and it's very, very unlikely that you're going to get the outcome you're dreaming of. The most effective imposter syndrome coaches are those who have experienced it for themselves, who have then set themselves free from it, and who know exactly what to do to support clients to do that too. And finally, question number 10. In what ways will my life be different in a year's time if I were to work with you on imposter syndrome?

Speaker 1 (22:56)
This is the big outcome. You're asking the to draw on their experience of helping other clients with ditching imposter syndrome and their own experience of it to find examples you can relate to. Once you can imagine the change, you're much more likely to achieve it. And look for changes that go deeper than surface level, that go deeper than just coping strategies. This question also helps you to identify your big why for the coaching, which will help you to stay committed to that journey even during any tricky bits. And just right now, just imagine what ways do you want your life to be different in three months' time, six months' time, a year's time, five years' time, ten years' time? Through deeply clearing out imposter syndrome once and for all. What will you be doing differently? What will shift in your thinking? What will be different about the way you're living your life, the choices you make, the impact you get to have? And then when you've asked your potential coach those 10 questions, fill in the table at the back of the workbook, and then there's a little sheet on what's your decision? Based on their responses, how confident do you feel that they will be able to help you achieve the transformational results you're looking for?

Speaker 1 (24:23)
Remember, just because you've had a discovery call with someone, it doesn't mean you're obliged to work with them. Particularly if you're a Brit like me, we get really embarrassed about this stuff. But if it's a great big yes, then what's your next step to commit to this life-changing journey? That wraps up what I wanted to share with you. A really, really useful first step is go and get your imposter syndrome score and your personalized action plan. You'll find a link to that scorecard in the show notes and it's also in your workbook that you can download on page 15 and there's information there on how you can work with my certified practitioners and master coaches who could help you to take your imposter syndrome score from around 80 %, which is severe to 20 %, which is pretty non-existent, in just eight weeks. So go and get your workbook, ditchingimpostersyndrome.com/10questions. Have a look for your coaches. Contact my team. We can also recommend people for you to work with in that Discovery call. Ask as many of the 10 questions as feel right for you. And then get in touch. Let me know. How did this process help?

Speaker 1 (25:33)
What did you discover and learn? And above all, I'm incredibly proud of you for having your basta moment. Enough making that decision and that commitment that now is the time to say goodbye to the coping strategies and to finally set yourself free from imposter syndrome once and for all. And I can't wait to hear what you're going to go and do as a result.

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