Imposter Syndrome with Jay Gurden

In this episode of K9 Conservationists, Kayla speaks with Jay Gurden about imposter syndrome! 

Science Highlight: You Are Not My Handler! Impact of Changing Handlers on Dogs’ Behaviours and Detection Performance

Why is imposter syndrome so common in the dog world? 

  • We care about what we do
  • Extra pressure
  • Young industry
  • Success is related to our dog’s behavior
  • No path to success like law school

How do you combat imposter syndrome? 

  • Make objective appraisals about what you do know, what you can do, what you’ve proven. If you compare those to your imposter syndrome thoughts, you can see that these are just fake thoughts trying to hold you back 
  • Dunning-Krueger effect plays into it 

What are the 5 types of imposter syndrome and how do we combat them?

  • Perfectionist: people make mistakes. Mistakes help us learn.
  • Superbeing: what does success actually mean? Can you find success in doing your best? 
  • Natural genius: learning is normal and can take work. You bring things to the field even if you’re not a natural on day 1.
  • Soloist: we don’t have to do this alone. We can build community.
  • Expert: it’s about making boundaries with your learning. 
  • Everyone: try to create objective appraisals of what you’ve already done and how far you’ve come. Journaling on the good stuff. 

What can we do as mentors/colleagues/mentees to celebrate their worth?

  • Talk about having the same thoughts regarding imposter syndrome.

Where to find Jay: Website | Good Guardianship 

Links Mentioned in the Episode: 

Dunning-Kruger Effect

Four stages of learning

Valerie Young’s 5 Types of Imposter Syndrome

Dr. Pauline’s Test

The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women

Conquering Confidence 

You can support the K9 Conservationists Podcast by joining our Patreon at patreon.com/k9conservationists.


K9 Conservationists Website | Merch | Support Our Work | Facebook | Instagram | TikTok

Transcript (AI-Generated)

Kayla Fratt  00:09

Hello and welcome to the K9Conservationists podcast, where we’re positively obsessed with conservation detection dogs. Join us every week to discuss detection, training, welfare, conservation, biology and everything in between. I’m your host, Kayla Fratt, one of the cofounders of K9Conservationists, where we train dogs to detect data for land managers, researchers, agencies, and NGOs.  Today, I’m here with Jay Gurdon. To talk about impostor syndrome, specifically within the dog world, and more specifically, obviously, within the conservation dog world. I want to give a shout out here to Paul Bunker for introducing the two of us after I mentioned some impostor syndrome feelings in past episodes. I think you’re really going to enjoy this conversation; Jay and I talked about some of my personal feelings around impostor syndrome and where that has come from, for me, as well as why this might be particularly prevalent within the dog world. And even more so than that within the conservation dog world. I hope that you find this conversation to be a little bit different and interesting compared to some other impostor syndrome podcasts you’ve heard out there, we spend a lot of time talking about personality types and the Dunning Kruger effect and how those play into impostor syndrome.  But before we get into the interview with Jay, I want to go go ahead and share our science highlight for the week. So this week, we read the the article titled “You are not my handler! Impact of changing handlers on dog’s behavior and detection performance.” This was written by La Toya J. Jamieson, Greg S. Baxter, and Peter J. Murray and was published in the journal Animals in 2018. So the basic premise here is that detection dogs may need to change handlers throughout their career because dogs respond differently to people depending on how familiar they are. This change has the potential to create conflict, or reduce detection performance. As such, the authors wanted to know one. Do dogs have better detection performance with familiar handlers versus unfamiliar handlers and to do dogs show more signs of being stressed or distracted when handled by an unfamiliar person? So for the setup, and the study itself, they had nine adult dogs, which were for Border Collies for labs and one Greyhound that were trained in scent detection for five days a week over a period of three months. The dogs also had behavioral assessments using the matchup to shelter dog rehoming program at behavioral valuation, which Wow, I’m really familiar with that. We use that on a daily basis at the shelter I used to work for him. And that assessment assesses the dogs friendliness, fearfulness, excitability, aggressiveness, playfulness, and tradability. Although the authors don’t discuss the dog scores, which is interesting to have done the things done in the matchup, but not sure the scores seems like it could be relevant to the overall picture and how the dogs responded. All initial training was done by handler one, so the familiar handler, and then before conducting accuracy tests, handler two or the unfamiliar handler was given pertinent information on each dog in regards to the personality and handling tips. Immediately before testing handler two was given instructions on how to handle each dog and had several practice runs with the dogs. Handlers one and two are physically similar they were both female of similar height and build they also had similar dog handling experience levels. Accuracy tests were completed outdoors via lineup that contain target odor, Bengal tiger Scott, non target odor cow or brush tailed facet Golay, Scott, and if I’ve mispronounced that I apologize. I’m not familiar with that Australian animal and control samples. All dogs were tested with both handlers five dogs were tested first with handler one will for dogs will tell were tested first with handler to their positive negative and false indications were recorded to determine sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive predictive value and negative predictive values. Tests were recorded a dog behavior was later analyzed for signs of stress, the dogs had significantly higher negative predictive value and sensitivity scores with handler one. However, there was no significant difference for dog specificity scores between the handlers, three of the nine dogs did not work at all for handler two, all three of those dogs were ones that had been chosen to be tested first with handler two and are volunteer writes that this point was not addressed in the paper, which I find interesting given that none of the dogs that were tested first with handler one, failed to perform for handler two. So potentially some amount of familiarity with the task helped the dogs perform better with the second handler who knows it’s also a small sample size. So it interesting but it is really interesting that three for three of the dogs that didn’t work for Hitler to had worked first with Hitler to the dogs were also significantly more distracted and scented less with handler to affecting their overall sensitivity to odor. Overall, the authors conclude that dog’s behavior and accuracy were significantly different between the two handlers. But of course, that more research is needed. So as our limitations go, we do have a relatively small sample size with an n of nine it would be really great to see something, something like this done with quite a few more dogs. And the tests took four days to complete. So the dogs only worked with their unfamiliar handler for a total of four days. This is a somewhat unlikely real world scenario in which a dog would only have four days to know a new handler, before becoming mission ready. I’m also not quite sure exactly how well they knew handler to like is this a sort of thing where they had never met handler to at all before or handler to had been involved in some amount of care or training or at least just cohabitating? In some way? Before? Before the training, I’m really not sure. This was a really neat study in gret adds great insight into factors affecting working dog performance. But as the author’s note, more research needs to be done to determine how long it would take for the dog to be comfortable with new handler factors affecting that process and best practices from managing a handler transition. Finally, we would like to thank our volunteer Heidi Benson for preparing this science highlight. If you’re interested in volunteering to help us prepare our science highlights, we would love your help! Reach out to me at Kayla at k9conservationists.org and we’ll get you started.  Now we’re on to the interview with Jay. Well, welcome to podcast Jay. I’m really excited to have you here. Why don’t we start out with just a little bit about your background and what brought you to kind of this this area of specialization, this line of work.

Jay Gurden  06:23

I originally started out many years ago now on a working sheep farm. So I was breeding and working Border Collies. Then for various reasons we left the farm but the Border Collies remained. And one particular one who struggled with aspects of life sort of brought me to learn about the training and behavior side, learned for a few years and got to the point where I was I started writing a book. And that was the point of which the imposter syndrome first showed its head and my way of dealing with things is to go away and learn about them. So I went away and did lots of lots of learning about impostor syndrome. And then I had all this knowledge that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with. And so my mentor suggested to me, Well, why don’t you write a book? So I wrote another book, and kind of folded that into a new niche. So basically, helping people with imposter syndrome, but people in the dog world sort of rather than sort of the general world.

Kayla Fratt  07:33

Gotcha. Yeah. So so it all sorted out, because because you were dealing with yourself, and you’re the sort of person who just does sounds like a very high level of research when you’re trying to deal with something. So why don’t we kind of then as we’re, as we’re getting into this conversation, start with a couple definitions as well. Like what, what is impostor syndrome? And what are some of the other terms that we need to be familiar with, in order to have have a discussion here?

Jay Gurden  08:03

Okay, imposter syndrome. Although it’s got the word syndrome in its name, it’s not actually a condition as such, it is defined as a mental phenomenon, which is a pattern of disruptive and potentially disruptive, destructive thoughts. So it kind of it all centers around this concept of self and of adequacy, inadequacy, and fraudulence. It’s one of those things that it’s very isolating, having impostor syndrome, but it is so much more common than people realize. It really is. There’s a massive proportion of people that you encounter in everyday life who have impostor syndrome relating to what they do. In terms of other names that is known by since it was first discovered in the mid 1970s. It’s gone through a range of names it started out as the imposter phenomenon. Then came to imposter syndrome, imposter ism, neuroticism. Those are sort of the main main names that has had over the years, but impostor syndrome is kind of the one that’s been settled on now.

Kayla Fratt  09:12

And it and what is kind of the difference between impostor syndrome and self doubt? Is there as a kind of a level a level of difference that makes the cut there or? Yeah, what what is the difference there?

Jay Gurden  09:27

Self doubt certainly plays a part in impostor syndrome. self doubt, is generally a slightly more fluid and temporary situation. It’s kind of more sort of situational. Whereas when you get locked into this loop of imposter syndrome, it’s there all the time. And it just sort of sits in the back of your mind. There’s, there’s this aspect of it that’s called the inner critic that just sort of sits in the back of your mind feeding all of these negative thoughts through to you and just sort of making it’s like a vicious cycle. because these thoughts, they just sort of make you feel worse and worse and worse about yourself. And the more you go to that side of thinking, the worse you feel, and it just, it keeps really spiraling. And it can actually lead to sort of clinical cases of anxiety and depression.

Kayla Fratt  10:16

Wow. Yeah. So what what might some of the what are some other symptoms of imposter syndrome? How would I know whether whether this is something that I’m really suffering from or or maybe I’m, I’m experiencing something else, or something a little bit less, less severe or less typical?

Jay Gurden  10:37

It says, Not really sort of any diagnosis tools, it generally comes down to there’s a particular pattern of thoughts that seem to show up more on imposter syndrome than, than anywhere else. And it’s all to do with these feelings of fraudulence and adequacy. Sort of things, thinking things. Like, if I can do it, it must be easy, so anyone can do it. Or, obviously, there’s this permanent feeling of fraudulence. That those are sort of the main thoughts that that signpost impostor syndrome to most people.

Kayla Fratt  11:15

Okay, that makes sense. So why don’t we now pivot a little bit towards kind of impostor syndrome, specifically in the dog world? What are some of the reasons that it can be so common there? And do we know it’s more common within dog folks than the rest of the world? Since you did say that it’s just so common generally?

Jay Gurden  11:34

Yeah, I don’t know that it is more common in the dog world. There are so many factors in the dog that do play into it, though, because of the lack of regulation. And in the dog world, dog training behavior world. There’s this, there’s no sort of real set path to follow. There are different routes you can follow with different organizations, there’s no one real set route. So it can lead to a lot of second guessing whether the route that you’ve gone and the courses you’ve taken are actually the right ones, sort of in inverted commas. And I think another one of the issues is that the dog world does tend to be very passionate, we’re all very passionate about what we do. And it can lead to these very strong and massive divides where, you know, sort of, we get into the arguments, and the two sides of that will have any argument, you will quite often have the sort of the educated people who lack confidence, and the less educated people with lots of confidence. And that clash between the two, that can sort of really leave people reeling and feeling like, you know, maybe I’m just in over my head, maybe this is too much, maybe I can’t do this.

You May Also Enjoy:  The Great Big Data Nerdfest with Dr. Charles van Rees (Pt. 1)

Kayla Fratt  12:58

Yeah, certainly, I think those things make sense. And I can also see, one of the things that’s challenging in, in the dog world in particular, is how much so many so many of us are solopreneurs. So we’re not in a situation where we’re getting to, to learn and grow alongside peers, we’re not getting feedback from bosses or, and not that that necessarily is going to carry impostor syndrome, and in some cases might actively hurt it. But I know it’s really challenging, and particularly even within the conservation dog field to really feel like we’re active, we’re living in a vacuum, and you’re never training with other people. You’re never seeing what they what their work looks like, you never really know what the you know, their grant proposals look like and whether or not they know what they’re doing any more than you do. So it’s really easy to kind of fall into this feeling of, do I even know what I’m doing here?

Jay Gurden  13:53

Yeah, that they’re working in isolation, that’s, that really is a big thing. Imposter syndrome, by itself does tend to make you feel very isolated. So that in an industry where we do tend to work alone, it has such a capacity to sort of grab hold of you, and really work its way into your brain. And it can be really, really difficult to sort of get the foothold to start to actually start changing your mental framework to be able to combat it.

Kayla Fratt  14:22

Yeah, certainly. And, you know, I’m just kind of continuing to think through things again, particularly within this conservation dog world. You know, even less than the dog training world there’s there’s nowhere to look to to say like within the dog training world for me, it helped a lot. Once I got my certified dog behavior consultant through the IAC, that process took, you know, years of experience and then months of work just on the application. And once I kind of had that it was like okay, now at least two reviewers have decided that I know enough theoretically, to do this. And you know, at least that helped a little bit and there’s just nothing like that in conservation overall. And we’re such a small industry that I know for me where my a lot of my impostor syndrome has come from. I mean, there’s a couple different places, but one being, you know, creative and entrepreneurial, and trying new things and getting pushed back on things. And I, I don’t think of myself as someone who generally struggles from imposter syndrome. But when I get pushback from people, because I’m trying something new, or something different that’s particularly happened around the launch of our course, that was challenging, and it particularly then that fed into a lot of feelings of who am I, I’m too young to be doing this. I don’t have enough experience. But then also looking around and being like, well, nobody else is doing it. So obviously decided to do it. But I think it parallels your experience with your book where I think it’s really easy when you’re trying to do big, hard new things to feel like, who am I to be doing this?

Jay Gurden  15:58

Yeah, that is such a classic thought that comes into it. They are Who am I, I don’t know enough. There are people who know more than I do. And again, it was my mentor, who she sort of sat me down and said, there are other people that are writing books on the same subject. But none of them are going to have quite the same angle as you do. And that was actually kind of what you know, there is room for everybody’s perceptions to come into play.

Kayla Fratt  16:24

 Yeah, and I think it was, I can’t remember exactly where I heard him say this, but I’m quite certain it was Ken Ramirez talking about this, at some point, he said something along the lines of, you don’t have to be the best dog trainer in the world to take on students or to take on a mentees, you just have to know more than the person that you’re mentoring. And he was really trying to talk about mentorship and bringing more people into the dog industry. And that’s something that’s really stuck with me. And, you know, through like our Patreon and our course and everything again, like I often feel like we’re providing something that I’m so proud of, and we’ve worked so hard for but then you also look around at the industry and people who have 20 years of experience. And you wish that maybe they had been the ones who made the course instead, but they didn’t. And I don’t have to have 20 years of experience to help someone get their first job. And I think those are things that we just, you know, it’s one thing to remind yourself of those things and to know those things. And then another thing to kind of feel it all the time.

Jay Gurden  17:26

Yeah, have having that knowledge, there is one thing but actually living it can be a very, very different experience.

Kayla Fratt  17:33

Yeah, definitely. Um, and then I think, you know, my other big personal hang up that I have dealt with is that I was fired from a job that I really loved and that I thought I was doing a good job that I’m that I I had planned to stay at for decades. And I really, again, I feel like I didn’t have a lot of self doubt or a lot of impostor syndrome until that and then it felt like, well, now I have proof. I have pieces of paper that say that I was inadequate. And I you know, I’ve unemployment checks coming in, that prove that I must be inadequate. And I think that leads me to, you know, this next thought that I think is kind of a self fulfilling, of course, you’re going to think this if you have impostor syndrome, but Wasn’t I right? Am I? I don’t belong clearly. So is anyone ever right about their imposter syndrome? Right about their self doubt? How would you know when you’re actually in over your head? Or if you’re just kind of in your head?

Jay Gurden  18:35

That’s a pretty good question. One thing that I recommend to a lot of people to do, when this they feel like they’re struggling, and they feel like they don’t fit in somewhere, is to make objective appraisals. So actually sit yourself down and objectively, look at the qualifications that you have and the accreditation process you’ve been through. So these things, you actually have this legitimate proof that you can do. So all the courses, you’ve done all the things that you’ve actually gone out and have done successfully, you list all of those. And when you look at them, and you sort of compare those to the thoughts that are in your head, if there’s something that’s in your head that you say you can’t do, but it’s on that that piece of paper that you’ve written down, then that is a fake thought.  And you’ve actually that you’ve got this concrete proof in front of you that actually no, I can do this. I do belong. I have got it. Yeah, so that’s something that I encourage people to do a lot because it’s just and you’ve then got this thing of you’re proving the thoughts wrong. And the more you can prove the thoughts wrong, the more you take away their power. And when you start to reduce their power, they’re not quite as strong in your head. And it can take a long time to go through this process. But the more you can actually take away this this impact and influence, the more you can kind of push on through it and just keep on going because You’ve got this proof to go back to the it’s it’s not you, you’ll find. It’s just the sort of fake thoughts that are trying to hold you back.

Kayla Fratt  20:09

Yeah, yeah, no, I like that a lot. And I know, you know, personally, for me, both the wind farm jobs, which I got shortly after losing the job, but working dogs for conservation helped a lot. Although I think I still had a lot of a lot of self doubt, like, oh, but it’s just a wind farm job. And I didn’t write the grant. And it’s small searches and an easy thing, you know, do I really, do I really know what I’m doing here still. But then this most recent job that we had in Guatemala was, you know, it was like, No, I got the client, I wrote the thing. We got out there, I trained the dogs, I did the work, we did everything. And that was really, really helpful for me.  So it sounds like a lot of kind of treating impostor syndrome seems to be trying to push through and do the things anyway, and to go for it. And I know one of the things I’ve told other friends, you know, if they’re hesitating to apply to a given job, or try something is, hey, I don’t I don’t think you’re going to fool someone, if you don’t deserve to be there. Go ahead, and you know, write the grant apply for the job, if they decide that you’re the best person for that. You know, that’s, that’s their decision, if you want it at least try and, you know, you might get rejected, and then okay, we’ll try something else. But I don’t know.

Jay Gurden  21:34

Yeah, I think that that also plays into another part of it that is important is, if you have got the grant, and you have got this job? Isn’t the person who employed you qualified to tell whether you’re gonna be able to do the job or not? So you had to say, am I right? Should I be here? Well, a good portion of that is on the person who actually hired you, because they should know what they need for the job. So if you’re hired, you must have something that is a good fit.

Kayla Fratt  22:05

Right? Yeah, no, exactly. And I think one of the other things that you and I touched on during our pre interview is this phenomenon of the Dunning Kruger effect, and how that can kind of play into impostor syndrome. So do you do you want to try to explain, a lot of people have probably seen this chart being passed around on the internet before, and we’ll include a copy of it in the show notes. But can you kind of explain it to us, for anyone who isn’t super familiar, just off just based on the name?

Jay Gurden  22:34

Yeah, the most common perception of it is of like less skilled and able people who overestimate their ability to do a job. But it does actually kind of work the other way in that the people who are highly skilled knowledgeable, we have a tendency to actually underestimate our performance. I also quite often link it to sort of the four stages of competence. So you have when you start out first learning, you have unconscious incompetence, where you don’t actually know very much, but you don’t realize that you don’t know very much. You start learning you move to conscious incompetence, where you know how much you don’t know. And it’s this stage actually, that a roadblock comes in for a lot of people, because then you start moving to conscious competence, where you have learned a lot more and you know how to do things. That’s where the imposter syndrome often tends to bite, because you’re still stuck on this thing of thinking you’re incompetent. And then when you’ve been doing the job for some time, and you’ve done a lot of learning, you get to the unconscious competence. But again, impostor syndrome won’t let you realize that because it’s unconscious, you’re not necessarily thinking about it. So the imposter syndrome will tell you that no, you’re still incompetent.

Kayla Fratt  23:48

Yeah, exactly. And I think it’s it’s such a funny catch 22 It reminds me a lot of, you know, dealing with perfectionism, where, and I know I’ve said this before on the podcast, but for the longest time, I didn’t think that I was a perfectionist, because I believed that perfectionist were people who were perfect, but didn’t realize they were perfect. And because I was not perfect. I therefore could not have perfectionism, but that, like, didn’t fit into its own definition. And I think impostor syndrome has a really similar pattern of, you know, it’s so easy to be like, well, well, yeah, I know those things. But those were kind of accidents, or that was luck. And I got I succeeded here and there, but it was because of these things. And really, really though, but like this time, I’m in over my head, and this time, I don’t have it under control. And this time, I’m not actually qualified.

Jay Gurden  24:47

Yeah, the perfectionist thing that so often crops up with imposter syndrome. One of the foremost experts on impostor syndrome is a Dr. Valerie young and you She actually she came up with these five personality types, which all sort of fit into a variation of imposter syndrome. And actually, the first of those one of the most common is the perfectionist. So this is actually a thing that is well known to tie into impostor syndrome. These people who set their targets like really, really sort of almost unattainable, be high. And then, inevitably, at some point, you’re not going to be able to meet these targets. And that then brings with it yo you have the drop of the self esteem leads to questioning, again, whether whether you’re in the wrong right job, if you can actually do this. But the weird thing with the perfection is is failure never actually stops you setting your next target exactly the same height. So it just it carries on it’s it’s like this, this sort of, again, we’re going back to this vicious cycle, a lot of stuff and impostor syndrome does work on on like a cycle.

You May Also Enjoy:  Pre-Guatemala Fieldwork Discussions with PhD student Ellen Dymit

Kayla Fratt  25:59

Uh huh.

Jay Gurden  26:01

That, that actually, it was originally called, it was called the imposter cycle. Going back to the very, very first researchers, imposter syndrome. Yeah. Back when it’s called the imposter phenomenon, back in the 1970s, when it was very first discovered. And, yeah, it’s very much sort of, you know, you fail a target. So your self esteem goes down, you still set your target high, and then it goes down again. And it just sort of keeps it snowballs basically, it just keeps on on on your nose. Yeah.

Kayla Fratt  26:36

So what are some of the other kind of personality types described by Valerie young? And how do those fit in with, with imposter syndrome?

Jay Gurden  26:47

Well, the funny thing is, we have these five personality types, but quite often people will identify that they have traits from each of them. So you can actually have you can have one, all the way up to five. Now, you might be one of the the jackpot people have all of them. Aside from the perfections, we have the expert who is I have very, very strong expert tendencies because I tend to go away and research stuff I need to know as much as I can before I do something. And basically, if you don’t know everything about a subject, that’s failure. Another one which can be really common in the dog world, because going back to that thing of where we so often work alone, the soloist, if they do need any help with a task, that’s failure. It doesn’t matter what how big it is, you know, you could be going into such an area that’s like 1000s of acres, if you needed to have another team of people with you, that’s failure, you should be able to go out there and sort it all out yourself.  And it sounds really silly when you put it like that. But the thoughts are, so they dig in so much it it. There’s not a lot of logic involved in impostor syndrome. So that’s why we use logic to try and sort of reduce it down. We also have the natural genius, those people who just expect to be able to go in and do something first time, you know, sort of without having to put in any effort or learning. And if you can’t do that, that’s failure. And then the last one is the super Bing, who needs to be able to do everything perfectly without any effort. And they could be trying to do 10 things at once. If they fail at one. The whole thing is a failure. Yeah. So those those five types, they sort of make up and combinations of those make up the difference in cases of impostor syndrome.

Kayla Fratt  28:39

That makes sense. And I think it’s really, it’s really helpful to kind of think about where your feelings of failure may come from. And I think what was the one right before Super being the instant expert, instant, natural genius.

Jay Gurden  28:54

Yeah, just sort of just being able to pick up whatever and just do it without any effort whatsoever.

Kayla Fratt  28:59

Yeah, yeah, I think I, I was when you were explaining perfection, the perfectionist I was thinking that I feel like there are some people who are labeled perfectionist, who maybe are more in this in this other category where because they’re so concerned about doing stuff perfectly, they actually only apply or attempt things that they know they’re going to be really successful at and they ever they never end up pushing themselves, which isn’t, which isn’t what you were describing as perfectionist, but I think sometimes maybe in other terminology, we we can model all those things together.

Jay Gurden  29:35

Yeah, I think with impostor syndrome, that’s quite often comes under the label of like self handicapping, because within imposter syndrome, self handicapping has seen quite a lot. It’s sort of this cognitive tool of self protection. So if you’ve got the these sorts of little barriers and the things that It could potentially go wrong. It, it sets you up to have this excuse for if you don’t actually manage to do the thing. And so it’s kind of this sort of self protection thing. But it does mean that then as you say, we’re not pushing barriers, we’re not trying new things. And it can actually really impact on careers because of that, because you’re not trying to do these new things. And you kind of stagnate.

Kayla Fratt  30:30

Yeah, yeah, of course. And I remember, I think the first time I ever witnessed this phenomenon, I remember it so vividly, I ran across country and in middle and high school, and there was a guy on our team who I won’t, won’t bother naming just in case. And he was often in the top five or so of most races. But if he fell out of the top five or so he often ended up finishing quite close to last are not finishing the race at all. And I just remember, you know, the first couple of times that happened, you know, he was like, Oh, my stomach was awful, or like he threw up or whatever. And the first couple times, you’re like, oh, gosh, that’s, that’s so terrible, of course. And then, you know, after you see that happening, you know, one out of five races for multiple seasons that are out and it’s like, oh, he has some sort of mental block that if he’s not going to win, he is not capable of trying.

Jay Gurden  31:25

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that’s a really good example of it in action. The other form of self handicapping, that I think a lot of people are prone to is procrastination. So you’ve got to do this thing. You’re not sure you can do it. So you put it off until the very last minute. I mean, I’m sure we all remember doing a homework the night before it was doing, but you just use it and you have to do it. But the thing is, you put it off so long that you’ve got almost no chance of actually managing to do it successfully. So again, yeah, at least to your to your best ability. So you can’t say that. You can say well, this wasn’t my best and that’s why that’s why it’s not the best.

Kayla Fratt  32:04

Yeah. Interesting. K9Conservationists offers several on demand webinars to help you and your dog go along in your journey as a conservation dog team. Our current on demand webinars are all roughly one hour long and priced at $25. They include puppy set work all about raising and training a conservation puppy found it alerts and changes of behavior, and what you’re looking for teaching your dog a target odor, find these three webinars, along with jackets, treat pouches, mugs, bento boxes, and more over at our website, k9conservationists.org/shop. So are there specific bits of advice or exercises that people may want to explore if they fall into specific personality types? And I guess even before that, is there a good place online to learn more about these types? Is there a good place to take like an online quiz to figure out, figure out where you fall?

Jay Gurden  33:05

There is an online quiz on the website of Dr. Pauline rose klant, who was one of the original researchers from back in the 70s, who, who discovered the imposter phenomenon. One of the best things that I can recommend is there is a book which Dr. Valerie Young wrote, “The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women” is what her book is called. And she just is like the go to person on impostor syndrome. She didn’t actually pick the title of that book, because we know that it’s not just women that get imposter syndrome men do as well. It does seem to be slightly more women. And I question whether that is a societal thing. Where, you know, we still it’s gradually getting better. But there is still this perception in some places that women should sit over there and be quiet.  But yeah, I do wonder if that does come into play a little bit still be at her book, I would definitely recommend her reading that. Because it lays out the personality types, much better than than I can sort of in a podcast. But she does, there are specific tools that we can use for each of those personality types, to sort of try and regulate the thinking. For the perfectionist, it’s all about accepting that people make mistakes. Because we all do we’re human. And learning to reframe those mistakes as learning opportunities. So that when a situation comes up again, we know what we need to do differently.  For the super being. It’s all about reframing the concept of what success actually means. So taking it away from external validation, and focusing more on how we feel ourselves about what we do, so that concentrating more on feeling in ourselves that we’ve done our best. And also remembering that nobody else has the complete power to make you feel good or bad about yourself. So it is that internal validation, that is the most important thing for the natural genius. I think we see a lot of sort of the natural genius type in the dog world, because there are people they just do expect to pick up a dog lead and have it all fall into place. I think possibly because of the way certainly having a dog not necessarily working with a dog but having a dog. It is shown as being easy. Yeah, did they just use this perception of you know, everyone has dogs. So it’s easy, you know, training them as easy house trading rooms easy. Take them out into the world, it’s all easy. And the thing is, it’s not like that.

Kayla Fratt  36:07

Like specifically within our industry. I’ve heard multiple people say that you can’t teach this skill. You can’t teach anyone how to be a conservation dog handler, you either have it or you don’t. It’s a natural thing. It’s a connection with the dog. Like I’ve heard all of these things from people who have 20 plus years of experience in this field, who are some of the biggest luminaries in this field. So of course, if you are trying to get into this field, and you have any amount of hesitation or struggle, and if you’ve heard these people saying these things, and you look up to them the way that I did, and still do I still respect these people, but they’re really, really making it hard for anyone to feel like there is room to grow or that if you’ve ever made a mistake with a dog. Once in your life, you have the opportunity to still enter this field and that you’re still welcome.

Jay Gurden  36:59

Yeah, yeah. And that is really damaging to trying to bring new people into the industry. Yeah. Hard. I, when I came into the training and behavior side, I felt that I had 30 years of being around Border Collies, you know, sort of working sheepdogs. And yet still you sort of come in, or, you know, I know nothing. There’s all these people, it’s, it looks so easy, and they understand and they can read and it Yeah, it really is a big block to bringing new people in. But for dealing with the sort of the natural genius feelings, again, it comes back to this thing of everyone makes mistakes. Nobody knows everything. And these people who have 20 years of experience, and who say that you can’t learn how to do it, they actually learned how to do it 20 years ago. So you know, they actually had to learn, ever, they might have forgotten, but there was still this learning process that they went through. And also that there will be things that come to you easily, there will be things that don’t, and the fact that some of the things don’t come to you easily, don’t mean you’re no good at what you do. It’s just that that’s something you might have to work slightly more on. And the thing is really, we’re all learning the whole time. Yeah, science never stops evolving. And we never stop learning. So, you know, 20 years down the line, I’ll still be learning.

Kayla Fratt  38:28

Yeah, well, and I think there is some, I think there is a kernel of truth in that. Some people do seem to have a natural connection with animals and do seem to naturally be able to handle and read dogs, horses, whatever. Well. I’ve been actually watching this with my friend, Toni with my cat, like, she’s someone who just out of all the people that have watched interact with my cat, she gets some she does a really good job with him. He never, he’s never once bitten her clawed her because she knows when to take her hand away, and she knows where to pet him. And, you know, nobody taught her that she gets it. And I think like that can be true.  But lacking that doesn’t mean that you don’t bring anything to the field. And I think it also really undermines and makes this field more narrow than it actually is. Because this field is not just about having a connection with a dog. There’s a lot more to it. And I think you can be awkward or disconnected with a dog but really good at a lot of other things and work on the connection and get there. Yeah, I think that’s a that that natural expert of the natural genius is is very, very pervasive as like a like entire cultural belief within the field of conservation talks. So that’s probably harmful, particularly harmful if that’s something that you naturally believe for yourself anyway.

You May Also Enjoy:  Laughing and Learning with Naomi Kung'u from Action for Cheetahs in Kenya

Jay Gurden  39:55

It’s certainly very reductionist, because, again, it narrows that sort of entryway for people to come in, if they believe that you have to have this natural connection and they don’t, it’s really, really hard for them to then think we’re actually no I can make my way into the industry silos, I think the silos is one that is so difficult in the dog well, because we do so often tend to work alone. Because what that need is for us to realize that we don’t have to do everything on our own. Something, again, I recommend to a lot of people, if they are struggling with imposter syndrome is to go and find people and talk about it. Because you feel like you’re the only one. But when you go and start talking to people about it, actually, you’ll find people go, Oh, yeah, I get that. I understand that, I feel like that. And then you find that you’re not on your own. And it just, it takes some of the sting out of it.  And actually, it takes some of the power out because you realize that actually most other people that you see, know exactly the same thoughts, that there was a survey done in 2019, where they interviewed people who had all been in their jobs for at least three years. And 85% of them experience these intrusive thoughts of inadequacy and fraudulence. 80% of men 90% of women that they interviewed, so 85% total, the thing is, of that 85% only 25% of them had ever actually heard of imposter syndrome. Wow. So that’s how pervasive it is, and how unknown it is. So you’ve got so many people who are sitting there thinking, I’m just no good and inaccurate, it’s just not true.  The last one of the personality types is the expert. Again, this, this is the one that I tend to struggle with. And, obviously, learning is good. But it’s about making boundaries with the learning. So that before doing something new, you don’t need to know everything about it. So one of the tools that the SEC actually recommended for that is what they call learning or just in time basis. So when you’re looking to do something new, that’s the time to learn about it. But don’t let learning about new things stop you doing the things you know about already. Because that can be the danger, you’re so focused on learning how to do new things, that you’re actually not using the skills that you’ve already got established. So that’s something it can really hold you back in your career.

Kayla Fratt  42:39

Okay, I feel like I’ve just said that makes sense about 15 times in this episode, but it does. It’s I’m learning a lot. And I like

Jay Gurden  42:47

it so often when I speak to people, I sort of I start talking and they’re just sitting there going, yes. Yeah. That’s me. And yeah, it’s it’s so common, just so not known.

Kayla Fratt  43:01

Yeah. So I think, you know, we’ve talked a little bit about what we can do for ourselves, if we can identify, you know, where we think we fall within some of these personality types and different things that may help us. Are there any kind of overarching bits of advice that we haven’t mentioned yet that you’d like to circle back to?

Jay Gurden  43:22

I think the most useful piece of advice that I have, it goes back to those objective appraisals. And actually looking at what you you have this proof of that, you know, and you can do, because that is just such a concrete thing that when these thoughts start digging, you can actually go, No, yeah, I’ve done this, I can do this. And another thing that I often recommend people to do is journaling, and sort of making a note of the good stuff that happens. So go when things go well, good feedback, again, because you’ve then got that there that on a day where you are struggling, and you’re not quite sure you sort of feel I’m not sure I can really do this is another thing you can go back to and just look at and just and say, Yes, I can do it. I have done it. There’s the proof.

Kayla Fratt  44:12

Yeah, yeah. I love just trying to bring evidence to my brain and forcing it to, to listen to me. Which is a funny thing for my brain to say about itself. But here we are. So, okay, so we’ve talked about what we can do for ourselves within our own little brains. What What can we do as mentors, colleagues, co workers and even mentees to help kind of celebrate the work and celebrate the worth of our co workers, mentors and mentees to, you know, I know this is it’s an internal thing. We can’t raise our way out of this for someone else, but there’s got to be stuff that we can do to help support each other better.

Jay Gurden  44:55

The most important thing we can do is talk about it because when you hear, especially for someone that you respect, talking about having the same thoughts, it, it takes the, there’s a, a quote, I can’t for the life of me remember, it is who said It’s Marie somebody, shame always shrivels when you share it out loud. So just sort of by coming out and saying it to other people, it reduces the scale of the problem for us. So, and also, it cuts out their feeling of isolation. And it gives. It gives that feeling, there are people that on a day when we’re struggling, we can go and talk to, and just say, I’m struggling. This, this is how I feel, this is what I’m thinking and just sort of have people who can go, Okay, let’s talk it through. And that, I think, is one of the most useful things that we can do. As mentors, just, you know, when talking to colleagues, it’s just be open about it. Try it try and remove the isolation, because it is the isolation that is such a damaging part of it.

Kayla Fratt  46:12

Yeah, okay. That makes sense. Is there anything that we can do, as far as like feedback, or compliments or anything as well, that may be that may be helpful, I’m just thinking about, you know, fixed mindsets and praising you know, tasks versus people or, I don’t know, some of these other like, kind of psychological phenomenon that I’ve, you know, read various kind of pop psychology books about over the years and wondering if there are any particular strategies that are successful or helpful there.

Jay Gurden  46:47

It’s a tricky one with impostor syndrome, because so much of it comes down to the person’s ability to actually internally accept compliments. I think complimenting where it is deserved is definitely useful. Because it especially if it sort of goes together with some of some of the advice that that there is out there for impostor syndrome. Because support from peers and competence from respected peers, they will have a bit more influence. If someone you respect says to you good job, that that kind of goes goes in a bit better. But I honestly think, again, the best thing, really is to listen and to talk about it. That is the biggest support, because the person needs to be ready to accept the compliments before complimenting them will actually work. If that makes sense. Yeah. And that is not really something we can influence.

Kayla Fratt  47:58

Okay, I think that makes sense to me. There’s this part of me, that’s just like, No, no, no, but I want to have better ways to help mentees through this or help. I wish colleagues I had. Any sense? Yeah. Is there any? You know, how? I don’t know now? I’m just like, well, but what if we said it this way? Like, a gratitude instead of compliments? Does that have any any impacts? Maybe it depends. I don’t know, you know, kind of saying like, Thank you for showing me that that was really helpful. Instead of saying Good job, like, is there any kind of like different angle that’s more helpful? Or just kind of not really.

Jay Gurden  48:44

Phrasing like that actually can be useful, because it phrasing it as being helpful, rather than just saying, Oh, you you did that really? Well. It kind of it takes the compliment out of it a bit. So it times the bit that it’s really difficult for the imposter syndrome brain to let in. So yeah, that that actually would be constructive.

Kayla Fratt  49:02

Okay, that’s, that’s good to know. And, you know, and maybe even paying attention to your colleague to your mentee and seeing what seems to work well for them and what seems to not necessarily make them uncomfortable, because I think we’ve all experienced, you know, being made uncomfortable by a compliment, because we’re not ready to hear it and giving a compliment and then having people just push back and say, Oh, no, but like I didn’t, I didn’t actually do that the way that you’re complimenting me for it.

Jay Gurden  49:35

I’m English that’s kind of bred into us. We don’t do compliments.

Kayla Fratt  49:40

Yeah, yeah. Mon. It’s funny. I’ve been dating an El Salvadorian now for several months. And it’s funny almost every time I thank him for something like if I thank him for making me dinner. He just looks at me and says you don’t have to think me and it’s just such an odd Little like cultural, like cross, like just misfire that we have, like multiple times a day. Because I’m just like, but, but I’m grateful for you. And I’m grateful for the fact that you made me this, I know that like, you feel like this is a normal part of our relationship and that, you know, I yeah, it’s just it’s really, really interesting to watch some of those different cultural things interact. And it’s almost now become like a silly dance between us where he says, You don’t have to thank me. And I say, but I already did. Whatever it’s yeah, it’s so interesting. So are there any other like resources or other things that you want to make sure that our listeners are aware of or can come back to? For for further further learning? Because, you know, we know that a 45 minute, one hour podcast isn’t going to fix us for anyone.

Jay Gurden  50:53

Yeah, in terms of resources, obviously, Valerie Young, Paulin Clance. I wrote a book as well. I called it is called “Conquering Confidence: Recognizing and Combatting Impostor Syndrome in Top Professionals.”

Kayla Fratt  51:13

Excellent. We’ll get links for all of those in the show notes. I already have. Dr. Pauline Clance, and Valerie Young all pulled up. And we’ve got Dunning Kruger on the show notes over, we’re gonna have a resource, full show notes, anything else that you wanted to bring up there? I think probably my main message to anybody who has is suffering with impostor syndrome, or finding it difficult is to be kind to themselves. It’s so easy to get locked into sort of beating yourself up because if I was any good, I wouldn’t be having these thoughts. Like we said earlier in the show, we tend to be very passionate about what we do. Yeah, we care about what we do. And unfortunate that caring makes us more suited for what we do. But it also makes us more prone to these sorts of thought patterns. So it really is that being kind to yourself that will help you get through this. Yeah, that makes that makes perfect sense. And again, there I go saying the same thing again. But again, it’s just the right thing to say right now. Well, Jay, thank you so much for coming on the show. I’m really hoping that this you know, people find this helpful. And then it brings something a little bit different to, to some conversations about impostor syndrome and a little bit more specific to our industry. And again, we’ll have all of those resources in the show notes for anyone. Jay, do you have a website or anywhere where people can go to kind of see all of your work in one place?

Jay Gurden  52:43

Um, yeah, the easiest place to find me is www.guardianship.com. Okay. Or you can also find me on jaygurden.com.

Kayla Fratt  52:57

All right, well get all of that written up into the shownotes. Make sure that people can find you easily. For everyone at home. I hope that you’ve learned a lot and you’re feeling inspired to get outside and be a canine conservationist in whatever way suits your passions and your skill set. You can find all of the shownotes with the links that I have been putting in. Donate to K9Conservationists, join our Patreon, sign up for our courses, buy mugs or bento boxes, all of that over at k9conservationists.org. Until next time!