Imposter syndrome, sometimes we all will suffer from this



A global colleague contacted me the other day. Often, I am contacted in the best (i.e. considering this new job) and most challenging times by people as they share stuff they are wrestling with. It is a privilege that people make me their confidant, and many of these people are part of my support team when I need help.


My experience with imposter syndrome, is that it is an internal dialogue of doubt, which is sometimes triggered by external events or a change of circumstances. If you are suffering doubt, assess what has potentially changed to trigger this doubt. For many people, the change could simply be returning to the office after a long period of working remotely or moving into a new role.


Here are some tips that I have found that have reduced people’s doubt:


Good stuff folder, create this in your email solely for good news or thanks emails. Start filing away those emails from people that have acknowledged your contribution. When you have doubt, dip into this folder to read them.


Acknowledge the outcomes you have completed, make sure you don’t just move onto the next email or task without taking the time to quietly celebrate something being completed. Working for myself, I have a couple of people that I will give a quick call, to share a win or something that I think is significant.


Create case studies, these are simple to do and have three parts to them. 1 – this is the situation, what was less then ideal? 2 – what was the activity you or your team undertook to improve the situation? 3 – the outcomes, what was resolved or uplifted? Case studies can be a great reminder of what you are capable of!


Manage your tasks, your doubt will create a willingness to take on more work. Too much work can sink your ship. So be mindful of listing everything and placing a percentage complete and forecasted completion date. If you are bloated, you will be sluggish, share the list with your boss and have them agree what they think is important.


Office interactions, many of us have not been working remotely and watching Netflix every afternoon. We have been actually ploughing through stuff at pace. Now you are back in the office, you lose some of that time to complete tasks as you have a casual chat, coffee or lunch with people. Be mindful of not over-committing to stuff when you are entering the office environment or attending a week long offsite.


Be reasonable on yourself, a new routine can zap your energy levels. For some people they have spent the best part of two years being remote. The physical effort to get formally dressed and attending the office can be energy draining. So pace yourself and be mindful of allowing your colleagues to pace themselves too. Trains and roads are becoming busy and this will take some adjusting to.


Work travel, as somebody who spent two decades travelling for work domestically and internationally, I can honestly say that I am excited about getting out there again, but I am not travel fit. My packing takes longer and I leave stuff at home. This week it was a belt. In the past I wouldn’t have done this, so be prepared and be kind to yourself if something is missed. Check your passport expiry date now too.


Illness, in April I caught Covid. Two weeks after clearing isolation I was in Brisbane with a client and still required rest. My client on day one, kindly allocated a extended lunch and I slept for thirty minutes and was far more productive in the afternoon. Consider these factors when bringing people together; if you become tired, you are maybe susceptible to doubt. Between the flu and Covid, everyone at some stage will need some rest.


What else would you add to the list and who do you think you should reach out to for support? The friendly conversation and agreeing on some genuine support activity could make a big difference for a colleague.


Who do you know that could benefit from reading this?


Forward it on to them and ... let them know they rock!