Today we are going to be talking about imposter syndrome and burnout recovery.
Burnout is something that I know is on a lot of our minds. It is not something that I have a special expertise in, so I brought someone onto the show who is an expert in burnout.
We're talking with Duncan So, an expert in workplace wellbeing and burnout recovery.
So let's hear from Duncan and how burnout recovery intertwines with the concept of imposter syndrome.
Connect with Duncan here:
Well, hello there. And welcome back to the show. Today we are going to be talking about imposter syndrome and burnout recovery. Now burnout is something that I know is on a lot of our minds and it is not something that I have a special expertise in. So I wanted to bring someone onto the show who is an expert in burnout. So today we're talking to Duncan So an expert in workplace wellbeing and burnout recovery, and specifically around delivering clinical burnout retreat experiences that are really designed to help workplace leaders quickly recover from burnout to be able to empower their careers. He himself has been a child of corporate burnout and it led him into the field of human flourishing for over a decade, working on systemic social change projects.
Now he's also a social entrepreneur and change agent and he's on a mission to empower the work with companies and communities that are on the path of business and social good. He's a graduate of the university of Toronto in engineering and in his private practice, he is a board certified master practitioner of NLP. M E R and clinical hypnotherapy with the association of integrative psychology.
So let's hear from Duncan and about how burnout recovery intertwines with the concept of imposter syndrome.
Liz: Hello Duncan and welcome to the show. Thank you so much for being here with
Duncan: us. Thank you for having me and again, for your audience. Some of your audience member might remember me. I was actually, uh, I showcased myself on an earlier summit at one time and so I'm really glad to be on to support your audience once again.
Liz: Yeah, this is so fun. So Duncan, you are the founder of the Burnout Clinic. Tell us a bit about the purpose of the organization and who you typically work with.
Duncan: Yeah, so the Burnout Clinic, and it's gonna be rebranded actually in January for the Burnout Recovery Accelerator.
So we're, uh, we have some new programs coming down the pipe and we've been supporting HR leaders, so HR leaders and workplaces for the last, since, since pre lockdown. So we. Our main focus was burnout retreats. Uh, we led a lot of senior leaders and executives who were going through burnout, really come down for a very, not just transformational experience, but a transcendental one.
And we focused on recovery, so rapid crisis management and recovery. And since the lockdown, because a lot of us were, were stuck at home, I couldn't, we couldn't fly out. I. The last two, three years really working on strategy for workplaces around burnout, response and recovery. And so going back to this year, we had a chance to reopen back up and go out to Mexico and St.
Lucia. And so a lot of these great places. And going into the next year, we are integrating both. So we're gonna have, not just the retreats, we're gonna have some really great, uh, workplace programs to go along with that. And hence the new, uh, rebrand and, and remodel of the Burnout Recovery Acceler.
Liz: Oh, that's amazing. So, I know that a lot of the work you're doing is with nlp, so I had to look this up and you had to, you let me know it was neurolinguistic programming. So NLP is a, a big component of the work you do. Could we, could you share with people, you know, what that is and how it helps people, especially around burnout?
Duncan: Yeah, so yeah, great question. I mean, NLP is what I use clinically. So sometimes when we move into sort of the burnout recovery space, it's more based on what people have gone through burnout themselves and what they've learned along the way, especially when it comes to prevention work. And back in the days, like when I was in corporate IT and burnout wasn't even a thing I wanted to jump into having a practice that was a little bit.
Left brain right. So as much as we're very integrated today, a lot of people might be mentally, emotionally connected. Spiritual, uh, to say the least. And for me, I wanted something very, not practical, but predictable, step by step, evidence based, uh, when I came to clinical work. So within neurolinguistic programming.
I guess it is really fancy language, but to really break that down, neuro is our neurology. So it's how we perceive the world through our five senses, what we see, what we smell, what we taste, what we, uh, feel, and what we hear. Right? So those are all five senses. Linguistic is language. So it's not just the, the modality that helps us to understand how we communicate with people, but more specifically with how we communicate with ourselves, especially when it comes to our behaviors and ultimately our results.
And lastly, programming. It is kind of funny because as a x sort of engineer, uh, programming sort of speaks to my heart. But you can imagine this practice was created in the. Seventies, uh, with four therapists. Actually it was four therapists and got popularized today by, you know, uh, experts like Tony Robbins.
So for those who are familiar with Tony Robbins, uh, he worked with the founders of NLP back in the early days. And so programming can think of it as apps, right? Like today, our modern day apps. And so when we perform or we have struggles like mental health or, or emotional, mental, emotional wellbeing challenges.
The lens of NLP is almost as if, how can we uninstall the apps that don't work for us, and how do we install apps that work for us and facilitate change? At the end of the day, it's all about change, and specifically in my space, I focus on burnout, so we look at it as. You're successful at burnout. What are, what is a software you've installed in you mentally, emotionally, and, and that sort of, uh, design and how do we uninstall that and install new things to make it work?
And that's sort of the, the premise of NLP and using a clinical, uh, format, we're able to address, uh, deep down issues like imposter syndrome, uh, even trauma in as quickly as 40 to 45 minutes. So it's a really, really effective.
Liz: Oh, that's super interesting. And, and I'm curious because this might be coming up in the minds for some people, is this at all related to, or is this totally different from the idea of, you know, negative self-talk, positive self-talk, you know, what's the connection there?
Duncan: Yeah, so it's back the language piece of it. So our self-talk is, One of our senses is audio, right? So it's what we do, but sort of talking externally, we talk internally and sometimes we might hear that as mental chatter or an expression of a lot of our beliefs, right? And so I actually, in nlp, we use that language to help decipher.
So what we don't do compared to say traditional psychology, is we don't diagnos. I mean, we find while labels are important because labels help people with a universal communication language, what we do is we try to understand the labels you give for yourself. We break those labels down so we know exactly how your co internal code works, so we can apply the right interventions to, uh, address specific situations.
Liz: Okay. That could be an interesting segue into one of our, the main topics, and you touched on it earlier, around imposter syndrome. So we're gonna dive into that through the, you know, imposter syndrome through the lens of nlp. But even one of the first things that pops in my mind is even calling it imposter syndrome or imposter thoughts or imposter, is all of that. Is there anything that we can learn just by having, like looking at the label of imposter syndrome?
Duncan: I love this because, you know, we like labels because labels sort of give us a sense of, you know, could be belonging, it could be a relationship to something, and sometimes labels can give us a sense of centeredness as well to know that I'm not the only one.
And so while that's a very powerful thing, but when it comes to the individual, how we. Express that specific label is very unique and different for everyone. And that's why even from the lens of burnout, when someone says I'm burnt out and they exhibit different symptoms, you know, we go down to the root cause of it for each individual.
Now, when it comes to imposter syndrome, it's interesting from the lens of NLP and for those who have come in, uh, through our work, through the clinical work, With imposter syndrome is usually what we call parts. And so you'll hear this language, right, like a part of me wants, wants a part of me, wants to be an entrepreneur, a part of me wants to stay in the office, or a part of me wants to be a mother, a part of me wants to be an employee, and there's all these different parts.
That operate within us. Now, parts aren't necessarily a bad thing, right? So the idea of parts and identity is we create these roles within us and these identities. Like, I'm a mother, or I'm a son, I'm a daughter, I'm employee, I'm a student. I'm a master's degree, you know, graduate or a, I'm a doctorate in this area.
We have these labels we give to ourself that when we express on the outside world, it gives people a little bit of an impression of what that might mean. Now, internally, you can imagine when you have these parts as simple as a part of me, for example, a part of me wants to be a mother and a part of me wants to, uh, express myself and grow in the workplace.
It's not an issue until becomes in conflict. Right? And so the, the biggest challenge with parts is in the ideal world, we create these parts. And these parts have a level of autonomy. Meaning is we built skills and habits. It has its own belief systems, it has its own values. As well. And so when these parts over time gain autonomy, this, you just get really good at it, right?
When you're a mother for 5, 6, 7, 10, 20 years, then sometimes you might drop into mom mode when it's like not the right time for that. Especially, let's just say your, your child is already an adult and you drop into mom mode. It's like mam mode is, is gone, you know, like 5, 7, 8 years ago, you haven't updated your software, right?
Definitions of, of mom mode, but perhaps your. You want to, uh, be very successful in the workplace and you've been working in your late twenties and the thirties to climb the ladder, and suddenly it's like, oh, I wanna consider family planning. However, you've built such a solid identity with your work that it becomes a little bit torn.
Like, I want to be a mother, but that's kind of new. I don't even know what that means. But at the same time, I don't wanna lose who I am, which is maybe I'm a director or a senior manager or a specialist in this area, and a lot gets identified with that. And you know, in times we can self-sabotage because different parts come out automatically in the wrong conditions, right? So like I mentioned, mom comes out at the wrong time. Or if you're in the workplace, everyone's always talking today about how do you bring your full self to work? And you can imagine sometimes you're in the workplace, you need to be decisive, you need to be a leader, for example.
And instead of putting on your leadership hat, But suddenly your, you know, wife hat comes out or husband hat comes out, or daughter hat or son hat comes out and it can be untimely sometimes. Right? And even, you know, working with millennials and sort of the, uh, sort of later Gen Z today. Sometimes we're an adult, we're in the workplace, and when mom or dad calls on the phone, you hear the voice just change, right?
Hey mom, hey dad. And we're all into, back into role playing. And so, you know, it's not an issue until it becomes an issue. And what that looks like from a sort of imposter syndrome lens is. We want to go from point A to point B, but the beliefs, the values, the behaviors, the strategies associate with that specific identity derails you.
So you go to point C and you're wondering, I'm trying to go here, but I'm going to another place instead. Why is there a gap? Right? Why is there a gap? And especially today where everything's about growth, everything is about achievements and we talk about the go, go, go. Hence the whole burnout type of culture.
We can be very inundated with a lot of information, a lot of fake news or incomplete information, and we operate with all these different parts. And they don't really come integrated. And so we kind of feel like a fraud, right? Sometimes we feel fake, you know, we come in and you're like, at this age I should be making this money, or I should be a parent already.
I should be this, I should be that. And you have all these different roles, uh, rules that fit into different identities and you play the dif you, you play an identity. In the wrong time, in the wrong place, and there's a lot of turmoil, and at the end of the day, you just feel torn, right? So the imposter syndrome, why it becomes a problem is we feel torn, we feel lost.
We may struggle with anxiety. Because of that, we may lose clarity because of that over time. If we're hitting failure after failure after failure, because one. Art is playing a role where it shouldn't be playing that role to be most successful. What happens? It's you just get so demoralized and feel helpless over time that I can get myself together.
And ultimately what sometimes we get at sort of a late stage, and we get this in the burnout as well, is what we call an identity crisis, right? Like who am I. What is my purpose And no longer are you integrated anymore. So when you're integrated is centered and balanced and clear, you sort of, I want to go here and there's nothing that impedes your way.
Whereas when you have a lot of parts that conflict with each other I find for a lot of women that they have a lot of these expectations and it can get pretty overwhelming, um, for them. And, and so coming, you know, through a lot of NLP and through this work is we have a process called Parts Integration that helps you to integrate these parts.
Is all these parts at the end of the day have something at a higher level that they all connect to. And so when you connect back to sort of the overall whole, then there is a sense of centeredness and balance and focus that so many, um, people are looking for.
Liz: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So something I've been talking to people lately about, and I've been thinking a lot about in terms of the authenticity piece,
and I'm using air quotes here Be your authentic self all the time. When we have so many parts to us like that just feels like it would be really jumbled to try to. Be everything all at once versus what I've been thinking, what I'm hearing with you as well is like, well, there's different parts to us and so sometimes for me, authenticity is more about like, okay, am I being genuine?
Is, you know, it doesn't have to be all of me, but am I being genuine? Is this a part of me or am I just pretending to either people please or because I had a fear or for other reasons? So I'm curious what you think about that and like, and how that might fit into this whole conversation.
Duncan: I love this because it comes back. So authenticity. Authenticity comes back to being this, right? So, you know, a lot, especially in burnout, it happens because a lot of those who go through burnout, they've, they're more about having this and doing this, right? So those are the two big areas. And being, this is sort of like, Hope for the best type thing.
Uh, but when it comes to true expression of expression of who you are, it's really about understanding who you are, your values, what's really important, and expressing your values to actions. That's a doing piece. And then just through that, that system, going through that, that doing, then you have the things you wanna have.
And the challenge for a lot of people is, especially when it comes to authenticity, is isn. The different roles and the different parts that we have is if these parts grow in size over time, they may become autonomous and have their own values. And so that's why if you're, you know, coming in as a, as an executive, the way you filter life is very different than if you're a parent, right?
Or you're dealing with aging parents or whatever it is. And so you have different belief systems and you'll always ask yourself, especially when you're not tapped in to who you. In that moment is you'll start to, you'll start to be very aware that it's so weird because it seems to be, I'm having split personalities.
I can't really get wrap my, my, my head around this. Am I going crazy? And the good news. Around why sort of the opposite of separation is integration, right. So, uh, I'll just sort of share with the audience of why we separate. So, separating ourselves isn't a bad thing per se. It's to help us to sort of gain a different flavor or contrast for ourselves.
So when we go on autopilot, we can get really good at one area. And so for example, like even for me in my career, in my early career, uh, I've, I've learned the skills to, to be on stage, to speak publicly and so forth. And you build a persona, right? So we, in psychology, we taught all these personas or these masks or these characters that you played.
And what we found in the early years as you're building that is you're still learning, right? You're still growing, you're still trying to develop yourself over time when it has a life of its own. You'll hear sometimes even in whether you're on stage or a yoga teacher or whatever it is, is you should be the same on stage as you are off stage.
Right. If you, if you're go to yoga class when you're in a yoga practice, you should be the same on the mat as you are off the mat, right? And so that's when we know it's integrated. So we separate for the reason of making life easier, so we can just drop into a light state of trance in that specific role.
Go, go, go. And then when we go home, we drop onto another role and so forth. And 20, 30, 40 years ago, that was fine. We had time, we had space in between. We didn't have all this, like things coming at us like left, right, and center. And today we're just bombarded with information. You can imagine, like I, I always say about this.
If you go back to the baby boomers, even before the silent generation back in the day, what they probably in information, they've probably taken more information and I don't know. A year or months of newspapers for us to get one scroll on TikTok today. Right? So you can imagine how much information we're just swarmed with.
We got the attention economy, right? We're just swarmed with that. So again, it's not that parts are a bad thing is when we create parts, it just becomes a uncomfortable, un unhealthy thing when it just gets too unruly, right? Leaning to your, the name of our podcast. And so what we wanna do and what's very useful now today and why authenticity has been sort.
Shining when we talk about authenticity over the last 10 years, relatively new, by the way, the language of authenticity, and it's really about the being this, right? It's a very spiritual practice, right? It's the, the idea that underneath all our skin, underneath all our personas and everything, at a, at the deepest level, there is sort of that spirit that who we are.
That is our destiny, right? It's sort of our, our core values, our deepest values that sort of supersedes everything that we want to express ourselves with, and we get that. And so for parts integration, for example, as one of this process, It's quick, it's like 20, 25 minutes to do. So when you have these parts and when you integrate, most, a lot of people cry, especially the tissue boxes come up and you're, you're fully integrated and all of that turmoil you're feeling on the inside.
Suddenly, when it comes back to authenticity, You're asking like the same questions. It's kind of funny. When we do the parts integration, they'll come in with a problem like, oh, a part of me wants to stay at home and do this, and a part of me knows I need to get back in the office, for example, because it gives me the piece of blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Right? Whatever the issue is. But because of maybe the lockdown, it's caused some challenges. That's. You know, puts you into protection or survival mode that you're so used to and that identity protects you. It's not a bad thing. That identity protects you and there'll be another part of the identity that wants to help you to flourish and grow and find freedom.
And so you're at the odds of almost like limitation and scarcity against abundance and freedom, right? And so all these values conflict with each other. And when you release that, when you integrate that neurologically, It's very interesting because you'll asked the same question, the same problem. So, you know, you mentioned the problem when you came in, like, you know, you wanna go back to the office or, or you wanna stay at home and those stare at you sort of Fran and blank on, they'll be like, what the heck?
Like, what are you talking about? I'm just gonna do this. It's very clear. Whatever that this is, it comes clear because they've hit at a higher level, at a deeper level who they are, and they can have con, we call congruence, right? They're congruent, they're spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically congruent.
When everything's aligned, life just flows. And that's, you know, in my opinion, going through this workforce about a decade. Congruence and flow and ease and effortlessness all comes together when it comes to navigating.
Liz: That's amazing. And so, so obviously people, well first of all, they can come find you in the burnout clinic or possibly find someone else for nlp, but I'm curious, are there other things that people can even do, you know, on their own, do you have any suggestions on, especially on addressing the imposter syndrome, but are there things that they can, um, recommendations that you have for people and how they can work towards this congruence or anything else around addressing imposter syndrome?
Duncan: Yeah, so journaling is really powerful. So you want to, cuz these parts are all loud, they're all like yelling at each other. So you can almost imagine if you're, you know, in the House of Commons and everyone's screaming at each other, right? Like, what's the point? And you're, and you're sort of the observer feeling it, you're actually feeling it, your neurology is being aroused from it, and usually not in a good way.
And so journaling is interesting because what you can do, and it's literally the exercise of parts integration, but done sort of on paper, right? And the exercise is very simple. It's one very simple question. For what purpose or what intention. Right. And so a lot of people say, for example, I, a part of me wants to stay in the, uh, stay in the workplace.
A part of me wants to, um, you know, Wants to break free and do something like entrepreneurial, for example, right? Uh, so a break out of our comfort zone. And so you're just gonna ask that part. So this part that wants this what purpose? For what purpose? And you just keep asking that same level. Say that child that goes, you know, why?
Why does this, why is that? Why is that? Why is that? But you don't wanna use the word why. You wanna be very intentional with language, right? And so you just ask for what in. For what intention and what happens when you use a word for what intention as a language pattern is your mind or your brain from a linguistic standpoint has to go deeper or has to go a little bit more abstract or has to go a little bit more meta.
Whereas if you wanna be specific, goes a little bit deeper, right? So we're doing the opposite. We're using sort of inductive logic or inductive languaging to move up to. What the deepest intention of it is all about. And then you write that down and you just sequence it, almost like write, it's almost like a ladder, right?
You're writing all, all these words down, these little beliefs and stories up like a ladder, and then you go to the other part, right? So the other part of you that feels this way, what's the intention for it? Right? And it's kind of weird because usually one part is positive and one part's a little bit more like not positive.
When I say positive and negative, it's not a good or a bad thing, but it's usually like, one is like, I want freedom the other. For protection or for support or for something that seems to be very scarce, like limitation oriented, but it's okay. It's very normal and you just ask the same questions. For what intention?
For intention. And what's really interesting, uh, from a, from an OB observation perspective, is as you move up the level of abstraction, you'll eventually come to the same. So one part will eventually go to things like I'm doing it because of a community and love and freedom and peace, for example. Right?
And then the other side, which is for before, is for protection and safety and trying whatever you go up, it sort of like breaks out of the atmosphere and you'll, which you'll happen over time when you're going more abstract, is like, oh, it's for love and community and connection. It's sort of the same thing.
And when you look at it, your neurology, we do this when you're in the light trans, so there's. It's a deeper change word that goes with it. But when you're doing this for yourself, once you start to see that relationship that's the same, right? It's sort of when you write that down, you can then tell yourself, I mean, ask yourself.
You can tell yourself like we're all, don't you notice that both parts. Are going after the same thing. And you can be both a entrepreneur and go through all of the higher intention of staying at work. And you can stay at work and still do all the higher intention things, uh, that you want to be as an entrepreneur.
And then what happens as that begins to integrate, your nervous system integrates and then the problem just disappears. You feel this level of like, Relief, right? Like it's almost like this release happens. And then as you, as you ask yourself the real question, so I know I had a part that wanted to stay at work and a part that wanted to break outta my comfort zone.
Cause I've been doing my work for like eight, nine years. I feel like I'm not growing. And on the other side, even though it's a scary place, but it's for freedom of blah blah, you start to realize, well both of it's for freedom, both of it's for whatever. What do I want to. And it doesn't matter what you choose, but because you're congruent and clear, you'll choose that right path that, uh, has that path of least resistance, where you don't have an inner tension.
And ultimately, as you go that you go through that you'll express the ultimate intention that you want to express. Whether you choose staying at work or being an entrepreneur, at the end of the day, back to authenticity, you're moving back to expression of who you are and that beingness of who you're meant to.
Liz: Hey, that's so interesting. So it's almost like if you go through the process, but by the time you've gone through it and once you've done, at the end, you're making your choices, then it's, it's like almost, maybe either one could be the true, authentic. Correct in quotes, uh, choice. But it's how you're feeling as you go forward and realizing that you have this choice and you can just, you can make the choice that feels right to you.
Duncan: So the word imposter, by the way, is internal tension, right? You feel like an imposter because what you doing doesn't feel real to you. Right. And so when that integrates, you'll still do the same things that you're gonna do anyways. But that feeling of inner tural intention disappears. And instead you go through with congruence and clarity.
And that's sort of, A lot of coaches do that too, right? That whole goal. The whole goal of. Coaches and therapies and therapists in this type of world is to make sure that you walk through your life, you behave your life as clear and as congruent and centered as you can. And that's what we call a life of ease, like sort of moving through a life with ease and grace, right?
So we hear that all the time. Right.
Liz: That's amazing. So, so for the people who are listening to this and thinking it would be so amazing to either work with you or follow you or find the burnout, um, accelerator as we're rebranding, um, where can they find you? What's the best way to connect with you or, or your organization?
Duncan: so I have like a, a. Again, I sort of moved up. I've abstracted all of my work, and now I'm moving under the banner of Transcend the hustle.com. It's a movement, like we're helping people transcend the hustle, whether it's. Out through burnout or other, or imposter syndrome or other things or into entrepreneurship.
But transcend the hustle.com is the webpage you wanna land on, and there's a lot of free resources there to help you. And you can book a call with me, uh, on that site as well. I'm very active on LinkedIn, so definitely if you wanna look me up on LinkedIn, you can't miss me. I'm there and then just, just DM me.
Uh, I, I accept all my connections and just DM me and I'm, I'm very open to convers.
Liz: Wonderful. So everyone connect with Duncan to find him over at LinkedIn, like you said, or on his website, transcend hustle.com. And Duncan, thank you so much for being here today for speaking with us and um, for learning about the, the integration and congruence.
And I'm very curious myself to go and do some of these kind of thought ladder bridges together and see what comes out for me. So I will let you know about that. But thank you so much for being
Duncan: here. Thanks for having me.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode. Now, before you go, make sure you click to follow the show this way you don't have to go looking for the latest episode. I'll come to you. Just click the plus button or the follow, and you'll get the latest episode fresh off the press. Thanks again. And remember that you are amazing. Now, get out there and RISE.