Have You Ever Experienced Imposter Syndrome?

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Valerie Todd
Trustee and Chair of People Committee, Leonard Cheshire and former HR Director, Siemens UK and Ireland

“I still have a little imposter syndrome… It doesn’t go away, that feeling that you shouldn’t take me seriously. What do I know? I share that with you because we all have doubts in our abilities, about our power and what that power is.” – Michelle Obama

Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome and doubted your expertise, self-worth, or ability at work?If so, how do you deal with it and keep your imposter syndrome in check?

VocL Voices’ Responses

Farah Janmohamed
Co Founder & Director Wren Laboratories Ltd

Imposter syndrome is a really interesting one as it can’t be willed away or simply dismissed. In my experience, it requires self reflection, inner work, often facing those inner demons head on, analysis of one’s past or childhood and of one’s place in society at large. Awareness and understanding of the self doubt, from all angles, is key and then creating tangible goals which push you out of your comfort zone gradually and allow confidence to bloom.

Vincent Egunlae
Assistant Manager – M&A, Grant Thornton UK LLP

I want to have imposter syndrome. I want to consistently put myself into situations where I feel uncomfortable, because it forces me to raise my game in order to compete, but that doesn’t make it feel any better! So when I am in situations that I feel a little unsure about things, I take the time to reflect on previous situations where I thought I would never be able to do something and I have managed to overcome it and it gives me the confidence that there isn’t much that I can’t do.

Will Lankston
Managing Director, Timpson Direct

I have certainly doubted myself and my decisions at times. I tend to find this creeps in when I spend too much time away from the most important part of our business- our engine room- the shops. Spending time with our branch colleagues and serving our customers helps remind me of our purpose as a business and I always come away feeling more confident in my ability to make the right decisions.

Gonzalo Coello de Portugal
Associate – Design and Project Leadership, Arup

Being a foreigner and having changed job are two conditions that led me to experience the imposter syndrome recently. Sharing the feeling with someone (for example a mentor) is key, since I would not diagnose that condition to myself. If one does not trust their own expertise, it is good to accept that at least someone else did, and decided to offer that certain responsibility. Identifying 3 quick wins to have as a target, and setting up a strategy for the short and mid term, can help overcome the feeling of underperforming in the day to day. If we carry on step by step, we may gain back our confidence sooner than we thought.

Lara Tabet
Associate, Arup

What a great question! Yes I very much have and I still do. I find a lower dose of “imposter syndrome” to be quite healthy.. ultimately humility, the retention of an open mind and the welcoming of challenge are all great things! But imposter syndrome can also have you spiralling down. A good support network + asking myself to present the evidence that demonstrates that I am an imposter is what helps the most. I also remember one of my mentor saying that I shouldn’t be blaming myself for having an imposter syndrome when the industry I work in is very much responsible to making me feel like I do not belong; in this case it’d be surprising if I didn’t have it!

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