Imposter Syndrome

It’s real and it’s blocking our blessings. Has a lack of representation impacted your confidence in claiming the space you deserve?

We discuss:

  • What does your success look like to you?
  • Being a working-class girl
  • Acknowledging your accomplishments
  • Not feeling at home in luxury environments
  • Fearing big opportunities
  • Cock blocking your own blessings
  • Focusing on objectives
  • You are not a fraud


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The Curl Squad is a community of underrepresented women on a journey to self-acceptance, pursuing passion and discovering their purpose.

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Falling in love with our natural hair was the starting point of our journeys to deepen our understanding of ourselves and what’s possible.

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It’s the curls that connect us, but our experience is rich, deep and diverse. Most of us can identify with overcoming some form of challenge and these perspectives are underrepresented, powerful and incredibly important.

Hosted by Zoe Fox




Read the full show transcript here
Transcripts are 90% accurate, please do not trust them for quote or news media purposes. If you need clarification for a story, a blog, or a reference, please contact us directly.

Intro Hook:You might not necessarily have the same aspirations and goals as the middle class white men that have been running the game for the longest. So it’s their success that we see celebrated, because that is the success that is projected, because those are the people whose voices are most prevalent within our society. But just because our journeys don’t look like that, at the average middle class white man, it doesn’t mean that our wins are not worthy of celebration. Hey, girlfriend, welcome back to the coal squads, coal power podcast with me, Zoe Fox, the coal power podcast is a podcast for women that are basically just looking to see what is possible in life, looking to discover how good life can get. We are the women who have been through some stuff, we’ve had our dark days, and now we’re ready to leave them behind us. And we’re just out here figuring out what’s possible. We’re creating the brands that we wish existed, we are building the businesses that set ourselves on fire. And we are becoming a representation that future generations of young women, women of color, and young disabled women can look up and be like, Yes, I can do that, too. So in the last episode of the podcast, I spoke all about life lessons learn one year on from spinal cord injury, and had some really great feedback. So I’m pleased to hear that, you know, the episodes are continuing to resonate with you. Also, in the last episode, I spoke about imposter syndrome. So I’m going to dig into that a little bit more in today’s episode. But before we really get stuck in, I just want to start off by just giving big love and Big ups to every single disabled woman that is out there fighting to create the life that she deserves, despite the obstacles that she faces. Because it is hard. It is hard. And you know what, it’s difficult for women in general, but to have your disability thrown in on top of that. The day to day functioning of life is quite challenging. Simple things are not so simple. So if you’re out there, and you’re still pushing and thriving, despite the stuff you face on a daily basis, I’m dedicating this whole episode to you, you phenomenal, incredible woman just

pick up your chest. So imposter syndrome. Is that a phrase you’re familiar with? Or is it news to you?

If you’re not familiar with the term imposter syndrome? I had a little Google for a definition. And impostor syndrome is loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high achieving people who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments, many question whether they’re deserving of accolades. And guess who it impacts more guys. Do you think it’s ladies or do you think it’s men? It is women, more women are impacted by imposter syndrome than men. So I’m going to tell you a little story. We recently had the local elections, and I was on the phone to my mom one day and the doorbell rang. So I said, Mom, let me just go and answer the door still keeping my mom on the end of the phone, answered the doorbell. And it was a local Tory councillor. So if you’re listening from outside of the UK, Tory cancel it, it’s basically we’ve got two main parties here. One of them being the conservatives, the other being labour. Conservatives are also known as Tories. I don’t know why. Maybe that’s something I can Google as well. Google is such a wonderful place for knowledge. So the local total, the local Tory Councillor had rang my doorbell. I told him that I was on the phone, but he still continued to talk. So I’m like, Wow, this guy’s persistent. So he proceeded to ask me if I was going to be voting for them. In the next elections. I said, I had never voted for Tory a day in my life. And I told him that I didn’t have any intention of voting for him in the upcoming election. And I was like, yeah, so I’m on the phone to my mum, the guy continued to ignore me. I’m like, wow, this guy is really bold. He then continued. So can I put you down? As a vote for me. I was like, bro, I just told you. I’ve never voted Tory a day in my life. And I don’t plan on voting for you in the next election. And it’s just so is that a 5050? And I was like, wow, this guy. This guy is special. So I was still annoyed about the fact that I’ve already told this brother that like I’m on the phone to my mom and the fact that he was ignored And that was like a disrespect because my mom is my queen. And I’m like, bro, I just told you I’m speaking to my mom. At that point, you should be like, oh, yeah, you know, but you keep pushing. But I had to admire his confidence. I was like, This guy has got no listening skills, and a totally delusional sense of self confidence. I was like, Why can’t the Lord lavish me with the delusional self confidence of a middle class Tory candidate? I mean, you have to admire that level of confidence, don’t you? Because you need that level of self belief to get things done. I mean, I do think he took it a little bit too far, because he really wasn’t listening. I think you do need to balance confidence with empathy. And listening is always a good starting point, isn’t it? I thought I was going to turn to politics, I used to get so frustrated and caught up in politics, and I was going to my local party meetings and really thought I could change the system. And yeah, it’s long. So fair play to him for actually being out there trying to do the thing, but it wasn’t for me. So another thing is, for women, our success doesn’t always look like the typical sort of success that is projected in our society. And if you’re a woman of color, a woman in general, you know, you might not necessarily have the same aspirations and goals as the middle class white men that have been running the game for the longest. So it’s their success that we see celebrated, because that is the success that is projected, because those are the people whose voices are most prevalent within our society. But just because our journeys don’t look like that of the average middle class white man, it doesn’t mean that our wins are not worthy of celebration. Our wins might manifest differently to theirs. And if you’re a woman who’s been working through challenges, trauma, adversity, some of your greatest successes could be as simple as getting out of bed in the morning. I know for me that there’s been points in my life, where that was the greatest success I could have wished for, just to get up and get out of bed, hardly newsworthy, hardly, champagne spray in sports car ride in white shirt, wearing type of success. For some of us, our success might look like creating the ideal work life balance. Having a humble life, that just means that you’ve got the space to find balance, or that you’re doing work that is just purposeful and meaningful to you. It might not look like this glittering successful life on the outside world. But says like high five to you if you’ve mastered success within your own definitions.

When I was working in banking, and I went out to India, with a set of processes that I designed, I’d formulated them. And I was going over to migrate this huge Banking project, to train up all these people out in India on the systems that I developed, which was quite a significant thing. Although at the time, I didn’t really see it as being significant. And that’s another thing. Because if your colleagues aren’t celebrating you, if the management aren’t celebrating you, you sort of don’t think that your wins are worth celebrating. But actually, yeah, that was a big achievement for me. But I’ll never forget going into the business class lounge at Heathrow, ready for my flight to India. Feeling like yeah, I’ve arrived, but also feeling like a total fraud and it felt like such a novelty to me. They’re all these sort of like middle class white guys. absolutely normal for them to be jumping on a plane and flying middle class for me. Little Zoey at Birmingham with my big mixed race self. Do you know what I mean? will likely look at me in business class like selfies. I was so gassed by the fact that I’m on a plane and the seat that I’m sitting in converts into a flat lie down bed. I fantasized on long haul flights, about having the ability to be able to lie down and stretch out. And here I was living my best life. Not only did we have lie down beds, but like the plates were proper crockery, and we had proper little metal knife and fork and lamb cutlets. I was like looking at me. But also I just, I didn’t feel like I owned the experience. I didn’t feel at home in that experience. Staying in the five star hotel, being sort of pampered by the staff being treated like I was somebody was a real novel experience for me because it’s just me Zoey from Brom. Do you know what I mean? But then there were people there who just take all that sort of stuff in their stride because they’re accustomed. They’re accustomed to that experience. And then there was the time that my friend and I, we went over to one extra. So one extra is a radio station here in the UK, part of the BBC group known as the urban music arm of the BBC radio stations, essentially. And my friend and I were going to be recording a pilot for a show. I’ll never forget walking into the BBC that day and just feeling like, oh my god, what am I doing in here? You know, you get the little land yards as your as you’re on your way in, and I’m like, oh, yeah, in this day and age, it would totally be Instagram worthy snapping type stuff. But in those days, I think we had Facebook, but we weren’t sort of like sharing our journeys in the same sort of way. But anyway, my friend was totally hyped about the fact that we were going to be recording this pilot, and that they were even considering us to have a show on the station. But I was so filled with anxiety and dread about the whole thing about me just thinking like, what the hell me I am not worthy of having a BBC Radio Show. My head was a mess with anxiety and fear. I actually didn’t want it to manifest in fact, I think I caught blocked it myself, because I was just so anxious about having to step into this space and having to hold this space and own it like, Is this for real? Like, they’re gonna find out? I’m just a nobody. And yet, that opportunity never manifested anyway, because just after we’d had our meeting, there was a big reshuffle, at one extra and the guy that was actually bringing us in to do the pilot, he ended up leaving so so that never worked out. But it’s no wonder is it? When are we just sending messages out to the universe, like, oh, my gosh, I’m not worthy of this, I do not deserve this. I’m not capable of this. That was a story that I was telling myself. Not what anybody else was telling me. But imagine that, like, What a sad headspace to be in, when you’re actually glad that an experience didn’t manifest because you didn’t believe in yourself enough. We can’t be having that. We are worthy of everything that comes our way. The opportunities don’t present themselves for no reason. Another instance where imposter syndrome has reared its ugly head is when we were building the digital marketing agency. And going out to clients there, me little old me working class, mixed race girl from Birmingham, go into a board of directors to present solutions in exchange for 1000s of pounds worth of their money. That stuff is nerve racking.

That stuff’s nerve racking, because we used to travel around the country to these big engineering groups and stuff like that. And I went with my brother to this one particular meeting that I’ve got in mind, and you pull up and there’s like a little screen, and it’s like, welcome to the blah, blah, group. And it’s got your name on it. And I’m like, Oh, my gosh, Mom, look at me, my name is on a board in an engineering company, in some random part of the United Kingdom, and I’m going in there to try and sell them a solution that they’re going to pay for. It took a lot of confidence. Because the thing is, and this is just because of the society that we live in, part of the trouble. And part of the hindrance to my confidence, is also worrying about how you are going to be perceived. Because whether we like it or not, people do have a bias, we can’t pretend that it doesn’t exist, whether the bias is conscious or unconscious, it exists. People feel comfortable with people that are like them. Let me tell you, I wasn’t like any single one of the eight directors that were in that room. But what I came to realize is if that you have a solution to somebody’s problems, then you deserve to take up that space. It doesn’t matter what you look like, it doesn’t matter what your color is, it doesn’t matter about your physical ability. All that people care about generally, generally, is that they have a problem. And that you know how to solve it. And at the time, we were going to this big engineering firm, and we were going to be doing a whole rebrand the whole website, everything. And I’m there, like strutting my way through this big engineering factory just thinking like what the hell these guys are paying us to brand their entire company. And there is nothing more amazing actually. Then when you’ve got a company that comes to you, and perhaps they haven’t got a very good digital presence. Perhaps their brand is a little bit shoddy. And then you take them through the process, the process that we had to build their brand create their brand and then you’re able to go back to the factory and see the brand in that you’ve created on display on huge signs on industrial estates on all of their marketing material, all of their stationery it is an amazing feeling to see that and part of me when I’m Walking around these factories is like, wow, how do I end up here in this space. But it’s because I deserve to have that space, you deserve to take up that space. The lack of representation that we had when we were growing up really has got a lot to answer to. Because I didn’t get to see real examples of women that looked like me doing the stuff that I went on to do. I just wasn’t exposed to it. So for me, it was all really new. And the truth of the matter is, a lot of this stuff is circumstantial, not one of these men that I have come across, throughout the six or so years of building the agency and serving these clients were any more intelligent than I was. A lot of this stuff is circumstantial. None of them were better than me, none of them more smart. But yeah, I felt when I was in environments with them, like I was lesser than, but there’s nothing more confidence boosting, then going into a space like that, presenting the solution and having them buy into it. There’s nothing better at boosting confidence than to just keep repeating the action. So the more meetings I had, the more confident I got the broader spectrum of clients that I’ve got to work with, the more confident I got. And these meetings, they don’t always go swimmingly. Let me tell you, because despite the fact that I was the expert in my field, at the time of marketing and project management, they’re the expert in their field of their business. So sometimes there are conflicts that you have to reconcile, because they think they know better at times than you do. And I wouldn’t argue with them about any of their expertise. But there’s something about when you’re, when you’re building digital marketing campaigns and branding and stuff like that is people have got their own opinions, of course they have. But then it’s up to you to be able to demonstrate why their idea isn’t necessarily a good idea. But you have to be able to do that with evidence and examples and stuff like that. It’s like people get obsessed with, Oh, my logo bigger. Listen, nobody cares about your logo, honestly, how big your logo is on your website is not going to be the defining factor as to whether people are going to convert into sales or not, people just don’t care. And a lot of the stuff that gets in the way is ego as well. I remember one client,

oh my gosh, like what the heck, he was obsessed. And it was another engineering client, we service a lot of engineering companies, actually, he was obsessed with wanting a picture of his wife on the website, drinking a cup of coffee. Sometimes you need to know when to just give in. Sometimes clients turn into nightmare clients. So it’s also good to have the confidence to know when to draw a line under things, when to sometimes just submit to get the project over and done with you can give all of your expertise over. And sometimes some people still think they know better. So I was like, You know what, it’s really not worth my energy to continue arguing with you as to why none of your engineering clients are going to care about your wife drinking a latte on a mountain. And that’s half the battle when you’re dealing with with business owners, is their own ideas of what they want is not always what is the best idea for the business and what they’re trying to achieve. Which is why the best thing that you can do is drill down into objectives. What is it that they’re trying to achieve, because then if what they’re suggesting doesn’t fit in to, to the objective, then it’s really not a priority, and it can fall by the wayside. So you’re trying to get more clients for your engineering business, is having a picture of your wife drinking a latte on a mountain, gonna help us reach that objective? Probably not. I doubt that Dave, who’s looking for your service is gonna give two hoots about your wife on a mound and drinking a latte is really not a promise you. So in doing the work for good six year period, you do get very confident in what you’re delivering, and how you’re going to get there. Each different client brings their own flavor and their own unique challenges. And again, it just basically boils down to being able to problem solve. And if you’ve got the skills and experience to be able to do that. You’ll be able to get the results that they need. There’ll be happy with the results and then they’ll continue to pay you and everybody’s happy. But I find one of the biggest things that sort of Stokes my imposter syndrome is the fact that I’m always super super aware that there’s so much more I could know I’m an eternal learner. And I’m always learning like, I’m obsessed with learning. I’ve probably mentioned it a few times on the podcast, I am obsessed with learning. And I think having that sort of an attitude about being in the eternal position of student, it helps to sort of keep you a little bit humble. Do you know I mean, but that can be detrimental. And it has been detrimental? Because I’m always conscious that there’s more that I could know. It sort of holds me back a little bit. Because I’m like, Oh, well, I do know some stuff. But you know, I’m not an expert, because there’s always more I could No, no, you are an expert. You are an expert, because MC Ron in the engineering factory up north. He doesn’t know diddly squat about digital marketing. But you do. And you’ve got quite a few things that you can teach him. So you know, hold that space and own it. Because you’ve put the work in, you’ve done the learning, you’ve put the shift in, own that space, hold that space. Having space to grow and learn, it doesn’t make you a fraud. It doesn’t make you a fraud. In fact, I would be more happy to learn from someone who I know who is always learning who is continually learning, because you know that you’re always gonna get the best of their knowledge and experience. There’s a lot of empty barrels out there that are really rattling some loud noises. And I can guarantee you that the thing that you are worrying about stepping forward into or that you’re a little bit anxious, because you’re lacking a little bit of confidence around, there are people out there doing it that are no better than you. There are people doing it, that have no more experience with you. They’re just pursuing stuff with confidence. And their confidence is giving them the edge. Because they’re out there doing it. And this is the thing with knowledge. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you’ve got, if you’re not prepared to implement your knowledge, take steps to demonstrate your knowledge, let people know that you’re about how are people ever going to know. If you’re not taking action, and you’re holding on to that knowledge? What good is that? What can you do with that? So yeah, basically, you know, it is possible to be an expert in your field, and to still be learning and growing. Just because there’s still more that you need to do doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get started. Because while you’re dilly, dallying and thinking about what more you need to know, there’s somebody out there who’s just cracking on with it, because they’ve got that confidence. And they’re being bold.

So get out there and start talking to talk, but more importantly, start walking the walk. So I’m wondering, have you noticed any areas in your life where you’re lacking in confidence, and where the voice of doubt raises its ugly head? Do you feel as though you’re being held back by something inside and you’re not quite sure what it is, what I’d like you to do now, when you next get the chance to have a little bit of quiet time, is grab your journal. And it’s time to sort of tap into your intuition a little bit. Because your intuition is so good at guiding you into where you need to go, what you need to do, if you just give it the chance. So my intuition has become my best friend. There’s been plenty of times in life where I’ve ignored it and paid the consequences. But it’s a really handy tool to guiding you into what you can do to just help you level up your life a bit. So yeah, if you’ve got a little bit of quiet time, just ask yourself, have you pen ready? What is holding me back?

Are there any areas in your life where you’re being held back from reaching your true potential?

Tune into that intuition and let your pen flow. And once your intuition provides that knowledge, then you can delve into that a little bit more. Ask yourself where that stems from. And like I’ve said before, in different episodes, more often than not, it’s just a series of little stories that you’re telling yourself about why you’re not worthy, why you’re not deserving why you shouldn’t be that person that is taking up that space, taking up that opportunity, claiming what is yours in life. Because while you’re sitting back and playing small, Gary, Jim, John, Malcolm, whoever else is out there living their best life, because they’ve got the confidence to just to step out and take it. They’re claiming their space, unapologetically. Now it’s time you start doing the same. So once you finished exploring your thoughts with your pen, it’s time to affirm what you deserve. I am worthy of this space. I am an expert in my field. My knowledge and skills allow me to serve others. I am powerful, and I am worthy. Because you are we are We’ve got so much to offer. What you need to understand CES is that our experience is so underexposed. Humanity will be blessed by having us stepping into our power, having us claiming that space. Like I said, in the intro of the podcast, our daughters, our sons, they need us to step out and be the representation. So on a final note, I want you to make sure that next time you have a win, no matter how small, you celebrate it, celebrate all of your retreat, all of your achievements. Get used to that, stop batting away, compliments on No, no, take it. Yes, thank you, I am that I claim that, take it, soak it up and project it back out into the world, and be the powerful woman that you know that you are, I believe in you. CES is time you started believing in yourself. So I’m doing a little bit of market research. And I would really appreciate it, if you would help me by sharing some of your thoughts with me, I’m going to create a survey or questionnaire, I’m going to pop a link in the show notes. And if you could fill that in for me, I would be so truly grateful. It’s just really going to help me to inform a little bit about where I’m going and what I’m doing and what it is that people really need some help and guidance with. So yeah, if you do find any benefit in the podcast, then it would be just the most amazing thing that you could do for me. So thank you. So if you are at a point of your life, where you are wondering how you can deepen your self connection, how you can build your confidence, or you can start paving your way to a life that just gets you waking up in the morning feeling that sense of passion. Because I know how miserable it is. When you wake up in the morning, and you’re dreading the day and you’ve got no sense of purpose, and you feel like you’re stuck on a hamster wheel. I’m opening up my one to one consultancy books again, for the first time since my injury. And this time, I’m totally dedicated in my service to women. Because I’ve never felt more passionate than I do now about really wanting to see other women stepping into their potential, living the life that they know they deserve. Because I know what it’s like to live an unfulfilled life. I spent many, many years there. So if you’re wondering how I work, it’s basically like I’ve alluded to in this podcast, it’s about problem solving. It’s about seeing what your objectives are, and then figuring out ways to get you there. tackling these unconscious beliefs that are holding you back, and just giving you that turbo boost that you need to push through the resistance and get on your merry way to live in that happy life you deserve. It is your time to start waking up feeling excited about the possibilities that the day has got to offer. I can’t tell you how much I love waking up every day. Knowing that I’ve got a sense of purpose. And I just really think that everybody deserves that. So for well over a decade, I’ve been problem solving. I’ve been helping business owners, large and small corporate entities and individuals to help them to reach their goals. Now I want to do the same for you. So hit me up, contact me through the website, book a discovery call. I’m offering a 45 minute no obligation call just to see if there is some scope for us to work together.

I’ll drop a link in the show notes. So you can find the page nice and easily. Let’s not make life any more challenging than it needs to be. It doesn’t matter whether your mission is a personal one, or whether it’s a career goal that you’re trying to meet. Perhaps you’ve got a passion project that you want to bring to life, or just some other stuff that you’re working on that you’re feeling stuck. Give me a shot. Let’s have a chat. So thank you for listening to the podcast. I hope you found it useful. I hope you enjoy doing a little exercise of reflection. self reflection is one of the greatest things that you can give yourself to help you get yourself to the next level. Come and follow us on the socials at the curl squad or you can come and follow me on my personal account. Zoey dot e dot Fox on Instagram. We are on Twitter. We are on Instagram we are on Tik Tok. Thank you for your time. Thank you for your support. Let’s get to the next level girls. Let’s see what’s possible. Big Love PEACE out and I will catch you next week.

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