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Imposter Syndrome. We've all been there, today we discuss.


 Today in health, it's Friday. And on Fridays, I like to riff on things that I'm talking to people about, or I'm hearing. And today I'm going to talk about dealing with imposter syndrome as a health it leader. We've all had it. We've all gone through it. And want to talk about it a little bit today. My name is bill Russell.

I'm a former CIO for a 16 hospital system and creator this week health, a set of channels and events dedicated to transform healthcare. One connection at a time. We want to thank our show sponsors who are investing in developing the next generation of health leaders. Notable service now, enterprise health parlance certified health. And Panda health.

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All right, let's talk about it. If you haven't dealt with imposter syndrome, you're probably not stretching yourself. You're probably not. You're probably not a high achiever. You're probably not stretching yourself. You're probably not. Putting yourself into situations where you can fail. And for you, I would say, stretch yourself a little bit, put yourself in a position that you're not sure you can do. For the rest of us. I would say I have felt imposter syndrome many times. And sometimes it's a fleeting thought, like, why am I in this room?

I can't believe I'm in this room. Or when all these leaders are looking at me saying, Hey, what should we do? And I'm like, oh my gosh, they're actually looking at me and asking me what we should do. This is a big deal. And I think, when we have a major. Cybersecurity outage. And everybody's looking at the Cisco for the first time.

And they're like, oh my gosh, board members are calling me and. Wow. Like this is they, this is me. I'm I'm in there. And we could feel that. I could tell you, when you do a career change, you go to a new company. Sometimes you could feel like am I going to be able to recreate what I did at the last company? Are they hiring. Somebody that, is this going to be the time I fail kind of thing, these kinds of insecurities will pop out. I'll tell you when I started this doing the podcast and other things that we do at this week health it was a complete career change for me.

And there are several times that I felt like, what am I doing? Why am I behind this microphone? Who's going to download this podcast. And I tell the story and I laugh that, 27 people. I downloaded the podcast, the very first podcast that I did. And I thought, what am I doing? And I know of that 27, I detested on many platforms.

I think I was 10 of those because I had to test it on so many different platforms to make sure it worked. And I think my mom was five. So maybe 12 people total downloaded that first episode. Now, since then it's been downloaded hundreds and hundreds of times, if not thousands of times, because that first episode has been out there for a long time. And if you get a chance to go back and listen to it, you can hear my crappy first draft, which we've talked about in the past. But let's talk about imposter syndrome. The first thing I would say is it's normal. It's normal from time to feel like I don't have, like, how did I get here? And am I the right person for this? And you have to acknowledge that it's okay to have that feeling.

It. In most cases, it doesn't actually reflect. Your abilities, you got to that position for a reason, you were hired for a reason. People saw your abilities to do things for a reason. And sometimes it's good to just reflect back on your achievements at that point and say, okay, I've done this.

I've done this. Therefore, I can probably do this. And. Just remind yourself that. You can figure things out. You've been put into positions where you didn't know how to do things before, and you were able to overcome. So I think the first thing I would say to people is acknowledge that it's normal to feel it from time to time.

And when you do feel it, remind yourself that you are there for a reason, people believe in you. And that you, and it's not like a false belief because I'm going to go into that in a minute. But it's a belief that in your ability to overcome and to do things I will say that there's times where you're in a room and they're asking you questions and you may feel like an imposter.

And I would say in those, because you don't have the answer and that kind of stuff and those things. For the love, please do not try to talk about stuff with utmost confidence about things, nothing about. If I've learned nothing as a leader, it is at times where I don't know the answer. It is best to let people know.

I don't know the answer so that they can seek someone else who may know the answer. And that does not reflect negatively on you in most cases, unless it's into your core competency. If they say, Hey, you know something about it, that's squarely in your space. And you're like, oh, I don't know. Then that's a wholly different problem.

But if you're sitting, as we do as CEOs in healthcare, all the time, we're sitting in these meetings and people are talking about. Dosing and that kind of stuff. Don't pretend unless you're a physician who understands dosing, don't pretend. Hey, explain that to me, help me to understand that better.

I want to make sure that the it system supports you helped me to recognize what that means. How accurate does that need to be? How important is that note? Does that note get messed up with it? Ask questions, turn yourself into a learner in those moments, don't try to. Don't try to be something that you're not, and that's, sometimes you're experiencing imposter syndrome because you're trying to be something that you're not where you're trying to do something that you should not be doing. Like you are outside of your your area of expertise. But anyway, I'm going to I'm going to keep going. It's when I first started at St.

Joe's. The first couple of months, I felt like a complete imposter. It was my first job in healthcare. So I didn't know anything about healthcare. I've told the story before that. I had, I made a list of all the specialties within healthcare and I memorized them because I was sitting across from these people and I'm like, oh my gosh, what. But what do you do?

What is, what does that specialty mean? What does that word mean? So I memorize all those things so I can know, oh, this person they work on, I don't know if they work on kidneys. These people work on cancer. These people work on, it was really that bad. Like I didn't spend much time in the hospital.

I didn't have kids who were had chronic conditions. So I didn't really interact with hospitals much and I wasn't hired for my healthcare expertise. I was hired for my technology expertise and my innovation expertise. But I had to have enough knowledge to at least. Interact with people and ask good questions. And I really felt the first couple of months, I felt like such an imposter because they were talking about things that were way over my head. And in those cases, you have to commit to continuous learning. Learning, learning.

Find those people that you can learn from. That is not a, um, it's not going to bite you in the end. Find those people that are friendlies. That are willing to teach you that are willing to come alongside of you. Preferably somebody. That benefits from your knowledge and you benefit from their knowledge.

When I found those doctors that were willing to talk to me and understand things, and they wanted to know how they could utilize technology. And when I felt like I had that trust relationship built up, I could ask them questions, explain to me. How, Explain to me how doctors get paid. Explain to me why this is an issue explaining. And and when you have that kind of trust relationship, you're able to do that, but commit to continuous learning. By all means don't continue to be an imposter.

If you're an imposter in a situation, if you feel that imposter syndrome perpetually for six months or more. And you have committed to learning. You might be in the wrong position. If you feel like an imposter after a year, like you'll have fleeting moments of it. But if you feel like perpetually man, I am not the person for the job.

You may not be the person for the job. But if it's, if it's upfront, you've just been moved into a new role, commit yourself to continuous learning seek mentors. One of the first things I did as a CIO in healthcare was I sought out mentors and I tell the story of I asked somebody, who should I talk to?

And they said you should definitely talk to the John's. I reached out to John Malanca and John Glasser. And both agreed to meet with me on the phone. And and I just great conversations. And then they recommended I come up to Boston. And I did that and spent time with them. And then I enrolled in one of the classes they were teaching at Harvard and I got to meet Stephanie real.

I just great. Blackford Middleton got to meet great people. By just engaging in a mentoring relationship. And to be honest with you, it wasn't formal. It's not like I asked John to mentor me either John to mentor me. But they had mechanisms set up because enough people were looking to them for leadership that they had a class, they had things that they could do that would help me to move along.

And there was times where I called, especially John Halakah. Who is. Very brilliant architect and a programmer. And I said, Hey, this is how I think healthcare technology and architecture for healthcare technology would work. And we would talk about that and about bad ideas around, and that was extremely helpful.

So seek mentorship, continuous learning. I think the other thing was to set realistic goals. My first job in healthcare obviously is as a CIO, I don't expect to know everything about healthcare within a year. Or two years for that matter. And quite frankly, I am a decade in, I still don't know everything. That I would like to know about healthcare.

So set realistic goals. What can you learn? What is what's manageable? And celebrate those victories as you get there, understanding certain things. I remember when they asked me to do an EMR consolidation. And a migration. And I started looking into what that entails and I was like, oh my gosh, this is. This is a big deal. And I saw it all sorts of people got them around me.

And as I was looking at that project, I'm like, I, there are things I'm going to bring to this table, like how to run an effective project. I've run multimillion dollar projects. I'd run projects across multiple geographies. I'd run highly complex projects. So I knew how to run a project, all those healthcare tasks I brought in a ton of people to help me. Set realistic goals and cut yourself some slack. On on some of the things. The other thing is, I'd say embrace vulnerability. When I would sit across from my CMIO, I let him be the expert in those areas.

Let him, he was the expert in those areas. I didn't have to let him be. He was the expert in those areas and the chief nursing officer chief. CNIO she was the expert in those areas. I let them be who they were and and I was okay saying, I don't know. I'm, it's okay. As long as you're doing the parts of the job that only you can do, and you're doing those well and they're doing the parts of the job that only they can do, and they're doing them well, you're going to have a successful EMR implementation, which we did. So embrace your vulnerability. It helps you to build stronger relationships. And it helps to keep you from becoming isolated.

One of the things that happens when you live in a. In that imposter syndrome for too long is that you become a leader in isolation. And that is two steps away from death. You just are not going to make it as a leader. Once you start to isolate. Professional development is important.

Identify those areas. I know Lee Milligan is the one that just cracks me up. He goes from being a CMIO, a physician to CMIO. He gets the CIO job, calls me up. I start coaching him. He then goes to the chime. He goes to all the time bootcamps. He goes to the CIO one, he goes to the security one and he went to the CMIO one.

So he went to all three of the boot camps. He wanted to leave no stone unturned. In terms of professional development and for you, I would say that's important. That's one of the ways you get past imposter syndrome is to. It's to sit in the teaching of people who've been there, done that. And then realize what you do know and what you don't know and learn some of those things. Trying to think if there's anything else. That I would say yeah, probably two things here.

One is cut down on the comparisons. Stop comparing yourself to another CIO or another leader. You are unique, you are distinct. As a as an individual, as a leader, you have a distinct set of experiences. Distinct background to spray distinct upbringing that you bring to those things. When you compare yourself to others, it is just a recipe for disaster. Be the best leader that you can be.

Now, you might see qualities in those leaders that you want to emulate. By all means go after those things, but limit the comparisons. And then the final thing I would say is don't believe everything you read on social media. And because I read a lot of social media and I read a lot of articles. And I also talked to a lot of healthcare organizations. And I will tell you at the beginning of my interviews, I typically talk to a CIO for three to five minutes.

And then after the interview, I'll talk to them for three to five minutes and you'll hear the interview and you'll be like, oh my gosh, they're amazing. Think about all those great things. You know what? I hear the five minutes before and five minutes after how hard things are. How difficult things are, what things aren't working. That never makes it to the podcast.

It never makes it on social media. It never makes it into the article. Do not compare yourself to the social media. And the stories and the stuff that's out there get to the bottom of those stories. If you see a house with some doing something that you're like, that's amazing. Get on the phone call the CIO. Have a conversation, call the chief, whatever your role is, call the person at that organization and get the full story.

A lot of times the full story is not what you read in backers, and it's not what you hear on my podcast. It is essentially other than that story, like it was a lot harder to get to where they're at then. They have led on or what you are reading. And so I will say don't compare yourself to those CEO's and and by all means, don't. Don't believe everything you read or hear for that matter.

Especially even from up on the stage sometimes, get the whole story. All right. Hey, we all struggle with imposter syndrome from time to time. Cut yourself some slack look back on what you've accomplished. Recognize that it does take some time for you to. Step into a new role. Focus on your ability to adapt and to have done things before that will help you to recognize that you can do this again. Commit to continuous learning personal development. Go ahead and embrace your vulnerability.

It'll help you with your relationships. Limit the comparisons with others. And don't believe everything you read on social media, please. Don't. All right. That's all for today. I'm trying to think if there's anything else I want to cover on this topic. This is a great topic, by the way. And the reason I brought it up as a CIO and I were talking. And he says, he told me that he just felt like an imposter way too often.

And we talked through it and when we got to the end of it, I'm like, no, you're a really good CIO. But there are some areas where the thing with the CIO roles is so fast. There's some areas where you are an imposter. Like you, you're showing up that meeting. You should show up with a humble attitude.

Teach me, learn. I need to learn more about these various things. Interesting conversation thought I'd share with y'all. All right. That's all for today. Don't forget to share this podcast with a friend or colleague. You said his foundation for mentoring. We want to thank our channel sponsors who are investing in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders. Notable service now, enterprise health. Parlance certified health and 📍 Panda health.

Check them out at this week. Thanks for listening. That's all for now.

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