How are you this week? I hope that you’re ready to make that transition from the relative calm of balmy summer months into the slightly more stormy autumnal season. It might be portrayed as the season of “mists and mellow fruitfulness” but this year has shown us that it can throw up the occasional storm too.

As part of this transition, many of us feel a renewed sense of beginnings, back to school, back to work; in my professional context September and October typically marked the new term, new students, new projects. And for some of us in Covid-times, very new ways of working.

For many people, walking into these new situations causes a spike in feelings of uncertainty or even inadequacy. As we meet new people and new situations we often wonder “Are we up to the challenge?”. Everyone else seems so good, so confident and it seems to trigger our self-doubt: Do I belong here? Am I good enough? Was I just lucky?

Strangely, this is where our tendency to experience Imposter feelings can give us an edge.

People experience Imposter Syndrome feelings on a spectrum, for some it’s very mild, rarely it can be very debilitating, most of us are somewhere between these extremes. If we are in this mid-ground, our feelings of insecurity can prompt us to be prepared, to do the research, put in the work, to make sure that we have done all the prep we can before we meet the challenge.

This conscientiousness often stands us in good stead. We can be good at anticipating what is needed – though yes, often have a tendency to over-prepare that needs to be carefully managed.

People who experience Imposter Syndrome feelings are often very good at whatever they do. They are well respected in their professional role and highly regarded by their peers.

Imposters often struggle with accurate self-evaluation – we doubt ourselves.

While we need to be careful of this because we can hold ourselves back, it usually means we are much better at our job than we give ourselves credit for. Connelly and Ones say in their 2010 paper:

When the criterion was academic achievement or job performance, other-ratings yielded predictive validities substantially greater than and incremental to self-ratings.”.

So maybe it is time to trust the research or even trust the feedback from your colleagues. 

And if you’re seeking a little inspiration, I recommend watching this 20 minute video in your break-time today. Particularly in light of the current exam grades situation, here’s a thought provoking talk delivered by an expert who would give any stand up comedian a run for their money: Do schools kill creativity? Do let me know what you think.
Rest in peace Sir Ken.

See you soon!