EP 21: Eliminating Imposter Syndrome and Being a New Coach with Kim Witten

Ep 21- Kim Witten

Today’s Open Door Conversation is with Kim Witten. She has a history of working in different fields and has gained wonderful experience from diverse occupations. Each one has taught her lessons and led her closer to her current passion, coaching for individuals and small organizations on the path to finding their more true selves.

With over 20 years of human-centered design experience, a Ph.D. in Sociolinguistics, and an accredited diploma in Transformational Coaching, her unique approach addresses the root of confidence issues. Find your WAY to your WHY is her new program to help people understand who they are and where they want to go. Akua and Kim discuss the wonders of being multi-passionate, recognizing and adjusting in toxic environments, and the process of finding your path.

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What's Covered in this Episode About Impostor Syndrome

  • How to confront overthinking and ruminating in negative situations
  • Using curiosity and coaching to find your voice
  • Looking inside yourself when your environment is toxic
  • How to recognize and deal with sick systems
  • Getting rid of Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs)

Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations

  • "I think if we start kind of looking at those phrases, and looking at the stories we tell ourselves and the way that we're framing these experiences, we can frame them in ways that are helpful or unhelpful and the more helpful ones are going to enable us to kind of put things make things right sized make us feel empowered to do something about it, or to speak up if we need to speak up" - Kim Witten 
  • "I think coaching is especially seeing a boom right now. And because it's an unregulated industry, there's quite a range of people calling themselves coaches, and a range of experience. So that's actually an opportunity to learn from people." - Kim Witten

Mentioned in Eliminating Imposter Syndrome and Being a New Coach with Kim Witten

Get to Know this Episode's Guest

Kim Witten, boasting over four decades of experience, has mastered the art of converting persistent overthinking into a formidable skill set. Armed with expertise in behavior analysis and communication, Kim's background includes over 20 years in human-centered design, a PhD in Sociolinguistics, and recognition from the International Coaching Federation as an Associate Certified Coach. Today, Kim's mission revolves around aiding overwhelmed creatives in transitioning from overthinking to expert thinking, offering support to individuals globally—be they career-changers or change-makers. Through mastering mindset, building resilience, and instilling confidence, Kim guides clients to create the lives they genuinely desire, unlocking their full potential.

Embodying the principle that valuable information should be freely shared, Kim regularly imparts insights on platforms like LinkedIn and Medium. For a deeper exploration of expert thinking, Kim's website, witten.kim, serves as a hub for a treasure trove of resources. The Hold That Thought newsletter, delivered every Thursday, grants subscribers three useful insights, accompanied by free access to worksheets, articles, concepts, and how-to guides. Kim's commitment to freely sharing knowledge fosters a community of expert thinkers. Without resorting to advertising or hard selling, Kim's approach is rooted in creation and sharing—a seamless fit for those seeking authentic collaboration. If you resonate with this philosophy and aspire to overcome overthinking, combat imposter syndrome, and gain confidence, Kim invites you to connect for a transformative journey toward having your ideas heard and unlocking your full potential.

Website: www.witten.kim 
LinkedIn: @kimberly-witten
Email: coaching@witten.kim  #

Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast

Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.

Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive. 

Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit.  Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.

Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:

  • Read about Akua’s services if you’d like to learn more about how you can hire her to help you strengthen your organization’s culture.

  • Complete her contact form to jump on a call.

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Here’s the transcript for episode 21 about Eliminating Imposter Syndrome and Being a New Coach

NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 0:07 Welcome to the open door podcast. My name is Akua Nyame-Mensah Chaos respond to Aqua and I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognised facilitator and former sort of leader that loves supporting reluctant buyer fighting and overwhelmed leaders. I've worked with them to help them clarify where they should focus their time and energy each and every day so that they can love themselves, love their work, and ultimately love their life. If you're looking to learn leadership information and hear different perspectives, you are in the right place. My aim in this podcast is to help you see that one of the most productive and profitable things you can do is deeply understand yourself. Understand how you show up, understand how you thrive and allow yourself to align everything in your work in your life, and in your business to support that, think of this podcast as your weekly opportunity to receive leadership support. And remember, there is no one right way to lead yourself or others. Thank you so much for taking the time to join me today. Let's get started. Hello, and welcome to this new podcast episode. That is an interview. So I'm very excited about this conversation that I have with a new coach. Her name is Kim Witten, and we talk all about the importance of language and also talk about one of her favourite topics, which is imposter syndrome. If you have the opportunity to connect with Kim Witten on LinkedIn, I really would suggest you do I will make sure her stuff is all linked in the show notes. But I think that she shares such great tips that can be implemented right away. All right. Enough of that, let's get into what we talk about. So first and foremost, we talk about her unique background, she has done so many amazing things and has such a diverse backgrounds. And I'm really excited to see how that plays out in her coaching. The second thing that we talk about is what is she looking forward to in her business as she builds it out. And then last but not least, we get her thoughts on imposter syndrome. And she actually doesn't like that word syndrome and actually tells us why. And also the importance of our environment as it relates to this concept of imposter syndrome. So, from my perspective, I've had a lot of recent clients who feel like they're not in the place that are supposed to be who feel like they don't belong. And so I'm excited to share this episode with them. So they're able to potentially reflect on their thoughts on how they're showing up. And some of the things they could do differently moving forward. So if this sounds good to you, I'm actually before I say that this episode is perfect for newbie coaches, and I've had a few people actually reach out to ask me about what are my thoughts on you know, being a new coach, I think this is a great episode to listen to about that. It's also perfect for you if you are a leader. And once again, I think that this idea or concept of a reluctant leader, and that's how I talk about impostor syndrome can show up for anyone at any points who've had any amount of experience. So if that is you, if you feel like you identify with any of those things, please take a listen to this podcast episode and let me know what you think. All right, so today I am joined by Kim Witten to talk about impostor syndrome and the importance of language. Ken, welcome to the show. Unknown Speaker 3:41 Hi, nice to be here. Akua Nyame-Mensah 3:43 Thank you. For folks who are meeting you for the first time. Could you please share a bit about who you are and what you do? Speaker 2 3:50 Yes, thanks. So I'm originally from California. I now I live in Manchester in the UK. And I would describe myself as a transformational coach. I'm also a linguist, a designer, researcher, I call myself a multi passionate creative. That's a term that I heard from Danna joy, who's also another coach, I found that term and I thought Yep, that's me. And so through coaching, I and these other skills, kind of blend them all together and I help people who are experiencing impostor syndrome, who are overthinking ruminating, also people who are going through any sort of change, and that may be a want to change and unwanted change, as well as small organisations. So I help people who are part of teams and small usually nonprofit or purpose driven organisations, and do individual coaching with those organisations to work on things like goals, values, strengths, team well being that sort of thing. Akua Nyame-Mensah 4:50 I love it. And I also love that you brought up this idea of being multi passionate, because that's something that really resonates with me as well. And I feel like a lot of the people I work with If that's something that resonates, but I feel like a lot of times we live in a society that says, No, you must do one thing, you must stick at it, and you must do it for the rest of your life. And I know the first time that we had a conversation, one of the things I thought that was so interesting and unique about you is that you've had many lives and many careers, and that you've been able to blend all of them. Can you tell us a bit about your background, and sort of, yeah, what you do now and what you've done before? Speaker 2 5:27 Yeah, I started out as a graphic designer, and kind of worked my way up through graphic design ad agencies and doing that kind of work in San Francisco Bay Area. And then I got into linguistics. And that was something that I wanted to study. And I did pursue that went to UC Berkeley, and then went on to do a master's and then a PhD in the UK on that. But I also got into various other things, so kind of research and marketing. And then after I finished the PhD, I worked for a tech company, and I got into data analysis and then try to stint at web development for a couple years, I was terrible at it, and then migrated to UX research. So user experience research and Customer Experience Research and now coaching. Now, that is a very winding path through lots of different things. And one thing I only realised in recent years is that there's this common thread through it. And the common thread is this, wanting to understand how people think, what motivates them, what pleases them aesthetically, you know, through design or through messaging, there's a thread about language and identity through all of that. And I think I'd been kind of circling the waggons, with coaching, trying all these other careers around to coaching. And I finally landed on this thing that can be applied to almost any any field or can help lots of people in different fields, and just make sense for the background that I have. But because I was winding through all these different careers, I picked up lots of different skills that I can apply to coaching and help relate to other people. Akua Nyame-Mensah 7:07 Oh my gosh, I love that I think that's so amazing, and that there's so much value that you can provide to your clients, because you do have all these different perspectives and different things that you've tried, firsthand. Tell us a bit about what you've started with your coaching. How did your coaching journey start? And where are you currently? Speaker 2 7:28 Yeah, so I'm very new with my coaching journey. But it started during the pandemic, I was listening to lots of coaching podcasts, I've always been interested in personal development, self help, just kind of awareness, reflection, that sort of thing. And I was listening to podcasts, and I some coaching podcasts in particular, like cover low Antheil, Christina Roman, this sort of thing. And I was thinking, Oh, I should get a coach. And then I thought about it. And I said, You know what, I should train to be a coach, because then I could have the skills and maybe apply it to my work, that sort of thing. And I'd received coaching, you know, through coach training. And little did I know, it's probably not terribly surprising, I have this habit of kind of throwing myself into something and then realising, oh, this is exactly where I need to be. somehow intuitively, I knew I brought myself here. And so that's what I did with this coaching programme. I found the Animus coaching programme on a mass centre for coaching, and started with them and just fell in love with it and realised that while I was applying, I'd been kind of applying coaching skills and techniques and gathering them in all the different things that I've done. I love helping people that I work with love having deep conversations, love asking insightful questions. And the work that I was doing at my large corporate job wasn't as fulfilling as I thought it could be. And I felt like maybe it just wasn't the best use of my skills. And I started asking myself that question of, could I maybe do this on my own? Could I branch out? And that's what I decided to do. So I was one of the people that during this, this past year has left their corporate jobs started their own business, and I'm a month into my own business. I have been coaching clients for the past nearly a year now. But I'm officially on my own for a month now. And figuring it all out. Yes. Akua Nyame-Mensah 9:23 Do you have I know you're only you know, doing this or have been doing this for a short period of time. But what advice would you have for others who are maybe thinking about taking the leap? Maybe, you know, very similar sort of space that you were in? What would you tell them? Speaker 2 9:38 Yeah, a couple of things. One, it's a process. So there was a lot of, you know, when we finished our coaching programme that people in our cohort, we would do these workshops, and it'd be a like one day workshop of kick starting your business, which is great, but I think there's this expectation that you're going to go to the workshop, you're going to figure it all out And then do the exercises, and then you're done. But it's a process. And it's an iterative process. And so you've got to keep kind of working at it and figuring it out, because it's part of your identity and your identity is shifting. And so I think just recognising that and appreciating it and embracing it is, is really helpful. And then the other thing would be kind of cultivating curiosity around things, because there's a lot of maybe overwhelm. There's all this messaging around you, once you get into the coaching world, you start to see coaches everywhere, it can be overwhelming, it can be intimidating. And I'm sure this is true for any field. As you step into it, you start to become aware of this whole underbelly of the people like you. But I think coaching is especially seeing a boom right now. And because it's an unregulated industry, there's quite a range of people calling themselves coaches, and a range of experience. So that's actually an opportunity to learn from people. And I think if you approach it with curiosity, rather than maybe comparison or scarcity mindset, and feeling overwhelmed that Curiosity will allow you to kind of see, oh, what's good about what they're doing? Or what can I borrow? Or how would I do it differently, there's a phrase that I'd learned from another coach, Christina Roman, that I just absolutely love. And it's this idea of no one can waste my time. So any experience that you go into, you know, if you're feeling like, you know, maybe you invested in something, and it's not paying off, or whatever it may be, it's that idea of like, how can I get value out of this? What can I learn from this? How would I do this differently? Or what can I notice? You know, maybe if the content isn't what you're after, maybe there's some as other aspects of how they presented it, that you can go, oh, that's actually interesting. Like, you know, what drew you to the thing in the first place. And you know, how can you learn something from it? I think there's always something to learn. Akua Nyame-Mensah 11:54 I absolutely love that. And I think what you're speaking to, once again, just very much resonates with me, I very much also remember when I decided to take this step out that oh, my gosh, there's so many people who are doing the same thing as me. And so it does take a bit of time to recognise that first and foremost, there are no two people who are alike, there are no two coaches that are the same. And then that there is always something that we can learn from each other. And yeah, thank you for just sharing that. Because I think that that's definitely something that a lot of service providers think about, whether it's coaching, or you're doing something more tangible, like graphic design, or web design, right? It very much can feel like there's so many of us, like, where do I start? How do I stand out? And I think you also touched upon a topic that is very important to you as well, this idea of comparison. And so for me, I think this is a great segue to talking a bit about imposter syndrome, and some of the language around that I love how you even share this language around having this abundance mindset. Can you tell us a little bit about impostor syndrome, what it is, from your perspective? And how we can engage with that word in a bit of a different way? Speaker 2 13:05 Yeah, thank you. Great question. So I've been interested in impostor syndrome for a while, I've definitely experienced it. And I was looking at it, there's a lot, there's a lot of it going on right now. And there's been this statistic that's been going around that's like 70, or 80% of people are experiencing it. And I just kept thinking, if the overwhelming majority of people are experiencing a thing, then is it a syndrome? Is that language helpful to us? Maybe it's just part of the human experience. And maybe when we start to look at things like feeling insecurity and and all of these things. Now there is there is a definite distinct definition of imposter syndrome. And it's been around the concept has been around for a long time. So it came out in, in a paper by doctors clients and Dr. IMEs in 1978, I believe, and they called it imposter phenomenon. And so in the, in the psychology and I think this clinical psychology world in academia, it's called imposter phenomenon. But outside of that, in socially, we call it impostor syndrome. And I don't think that language is helpful to us. In fact, I think it's harmful. So I'm on a mission to change the way we think and talk about this. And maybe it's going back to imposter phenomenon. You know, you can't really dictate the way that people call things or pronounce things or any of that. But I do want to bring awareness of how we think about it. Because I think if we start kind of looking at those phrases, and looking at the stories we tell ourselves and the way that we're framing these experiences, we can frame them in ways that are helpful or unhelpful and the more helpful ones are going to enable us to kind of put things make things right sized make us feel empowered to do something about it, or to speak up if we need to speak up because oftentimes, especially for underrepresented groups or minority groups, There's this thing called double impact where you're having the feelings of being an impostor of feeling like you don't deserve to be there, all these insecure feelings, as well as the sensitivity towards the way that other people are treating you, which might not be fair, and it may be triggering those feelings, it may be very justified in bringing out those, those feelings and those experiences because you aren't being treated fairly. And what happens sometimes is we take those experiences or the way that other people are treating us we normalise their behaviour and then pathologize our own. So we tell ourselves, what they're saying is correct and true. There must be something wrong with me, there must be something broken or a disease or a syndrome, I need to go find a fix or a cure. And that is not a helpful framing. I love that. And Akua Nyame-Mensah 15:54 I think to me, you sharing this is also very similar to this concept also of resilient as well. This idea that somehow we need to be resilient, not recognising that we don't live in a vacuum. And I think that's very similar to this concept of imposter syndrome as well, right? We don't live in a vacuum. So those same emotions can come up, we can label it as imposter syndrome. But recognising that the environment that we're in can also trigger it, is there something maybe potentially off in that environment or something that we can switch about that environment? Potentially? Speaker 2 16:26 Yeah, and I've been looking into this in terms of a concept called Six systems. And there was, yeah, it's one of my favourite things. Well, not my favourite thing that exists. But it's, I think it's a very fascinating concept. And it came out years ago in a Live Journal blog. And there was a poster who created this concept of a sixth system. And it was this idea of you could treat your employees great, you could treat your partner great, you could give them all the rewards and create a very fair and equitable workplace, and they still might not be loyal to you. So sometimes people take shortcuts, or either intentionally or inadvertently create systems that are quicker ways to keep people loyal, and keep people embedded in the system, but they're very unhealthy. And there's very identifiable specific things that you can do to create a sick system and to perpetuate it. So think things like moving the goalposts keeping the rewards distant, tying your success to the team's success, and creating an environment where there are stars and scapegoats. And, you know, some people are elevated, and other people are always kind of, you know, kept down. All of these things perpetuate the system. And for people who are feeling like they don't deserve to be there, or they're feeling, you know, imposter phenomenon. Feeling insecurity, a sixth system is a toxic environment that only makes it worse for them. So it's, you know, part kind of understanding your own place and experience and feelings. But also recognising that you're in a system that is going to lead to burnout is going to keep you down is not going to be helpful. And understanding all the ways that that shows up can be really eye opening and make people realise it's not me. Akua Nyame-Mensah 18:17 Yeah. And I think that can be so powerful. What are some of the first steps that people can take? Or do you have any suggestions on on tools or resources they can leverage to start to open, I guess their eyes to this or see things maybe from a bit of a different perspective? Speaker 2 18:36 Yeah, I'm trying to think because there's tools both internally, so kind of being aware of your own experiences, thoughts, feelings. So you might have some, you know, automatic negative thoughts are called ants, which are, you know, deeply grooved patterns of thinking that might not be serving you. And when you're in a stressful or burnout environment, a sixth system, yes. So when you're in that kind of toxic or, you know, burnout environment, sixth system, being able to increase that resilience and recognise those slots. So that's one thing internally that you can do is start noticing, what is it that I want to change? What is it that I'm thinking, when do I start thinking those things? And first that noticing is retroactive. It's, ah, yeah, I had, this is what I was thinking when I reacted that way to what my boss said, right? And then as it becomes more aware, like as you gain that awareness, you can start thinking then in the moment, I'm feeling this feeling I'm, I'm thinking this thought, still might not be able to change it. And then with more practice, you can start to notice in advance, I'm about to go into a very stressful situation with this meeting. And these people that I'm about to meet with, I've had conflicts in the past. I didn't sleep well. I'm Very likely to have these thoughts, here's what I can do about it. And so that whole kind of change process of those four different I think was four different steps can be one, one way to one approach to changing the thoughts internally. But then there's also I think, things that you can do externally. Things like having a support system kind of building allies around you at work, separating yourself from your work recognising. And reframing the things that other people do so that your worth isn't on the table, and you're not taking things in personally. So that's some of the ideas there's many, many more, and I'm learning them as I go and talk to people and coach people as well. Akua Nyame-Mensah 20:43 That's amazing. Thank you so much for sharing that. And I think even I think you mentioned this, the concept also of burnout, like those elements that you shared, I think, would help to contribute to either eliminate or reduce the likelihood of you becoming burnt out, because I think so many people focus so much on, you know, burnout is about being tired and feeling tired and not recognising that there is the I don't feel like I'm worthy part of it. There is the I don't know actually how to handle some of these. And I love that term. And it's right, this, I don't know how to handle these, these thoughts that I'm just ruminating over. And a part of it also is not having that, that community that that allows you to feel safe, right, a part of burnout is feeling unsafe, somebody the paranoid, there's some really interesting research around how people actually, when they are becoming more burnout, or going down this path of burnout, they feel paranoid, and that there's no one there that supports them. Isolated, isolated, yes, isolated is another word that that is definitely used as well. So thank you for sharing that. I think that will be very helpful for a lot of people who are just wrapping their heads around this concept of burnout. And really recognising that it's a really long road, right? It's not just, it's not acute, it's a gradual thing that happens. And that sometimes could take a while for you to even build awareness around as well. Speaker 2 22:02 Yeah. And I think you can't do it alone as well. You know, like, if you can need people to help you. But if you're trying to change a team or trying to change a culture, they need, at least on some level to engage with it and be a part of this change. Or you need to find ways to remove yourself from it or insulate yourself from it. Because if there's so much resistance to change, then all the effort you do will be for naught because it's they need to change. And toward that, I was reminded to have Brene Brown has a lot Brene Brown, she's got a list of 10 questions to ask yourself or ask your team to move from what I call a sixth system. And she calls towards a more wholehearted culture. And there are lots of questions about how the team functions. And one that jumps out at me is like, what are the sacred cows, who tips them over? I stands the cows back up, you know, it's just a beautiful metaphor for kind of like, what is special within the team? Who's Who's rocking that or pushing that? And then who's doing the cleanup? And all of those things are good signals of kind of what is the broader team dynamic that might be impacting you as well? Akua Nyame-Mensah 23:18 Definitely. Thank you. Yeah. Thank you so much for sharing that. And when you aren't thinking about sort of your next steps and what you are excited about, what what can we look forward to seeing from you, Kim? Speaker 2 23:29 Yeah, so I'm working on a coaching programme right now, which is all about impostor syndrome. It's called Find your way to your why. And with wave being an acronym for Who are you and why being an acronym for what Hartness? You? So yeah, so it's really about I think the first step to understanding feelings of insecurity, impostor syndrome, overthinking rumination is really understanding who you are, what your identity is, you know, what your voice is. And I use a coaching approach, linguistic approach design thinking to really get at the heart of kind of understanding where you are right now, because you need to understand where you are to understand how you're going to get to where you want to be. And so then that, that why that what heartens you is then that next part of it is understanding kind of where do you want to go? Whether that's a career change, or an internal change, you know, just kind of maybe your thinking and those those automatic negative negative thoughts getting rid of those ants. And yeah, helping people kind of do that get their you know, reach their goals be who they want to be find their voice. So I'm starting my first cohort will be in August and then so that'll be the pilot programme with five lucky people who get to try this out at the discounted rate. And then from there, I'll keep developing the programme and expand it in different ways with tools worksheets. And then all along the way I'm going to be providing these resources. So I've got my self coaching blog at my website Witten dot Kim dot k, I am not.com. So it's a unique URL. I love it. Yeah. And so my kind of one of my guiding principles is to just keep giving away resources and tools as I learn things as the heart of a researcher is, you know, research is if it's worth finding, it's worth sharing. It's not for me as a research to be holding on to these ideas. I need to get them out there. People need to benefit and learn. So I'm testing things, creating workshops, worksheets, writing blogs, doing whatever I can, because I'm finding my voice as a business owner as well. Akua Nyame-Mensah 25:45 This has been absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for your time and your energy, and your thoughts. Where can people find out more about you online besides your website? What is you know, what is your main social media sort of channel? LinkedIn would be where it's at for me. Awesome. We'll make sure those are in the show notes. Thank you so much for joining me today. Thank you. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to today's episode. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please share it with your friends. We can continue this conversation on social media the links to my socials so that is LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. You can find them in the show notes. If you tagged me in a story and include the hashtag hashtag ask Akua I will share a special little gift with you. Thank you so much once again for your time and I cannot wait to share my next episode with you stay safe and sane.


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