I recently wrote a piece which appeared on Medium.com about the positive side of impostor syndrome, and how it can actually help you to become a better leader.
Read it here:
I recently wrote a piece which appeared on Medium.com about the positive side of impostor syndrome, and how it can actually help you to become a better leader.
Read it here:
We have all heard of the term “imposter syndrome.” In psychology, it is described as a pattern in which the individuals doubt their accomplishments and experience an internalised, often totally unfounded fear of being “found out,” or perhaps disclosed as a “fraud.”
Put more simply, it often occurs when people feel that they should not be where they are, and somehow got there by accident, fluke, pretence, the luck of the draw or even “fate”. Their internal self-appraisal leaves them unaware of the personal attributes that would merit the position they now find themselves in. The experience, rather than being enjoyed and celebrated becomes an inner conflict, wherein its only a matter of time until the “real” person is discovered and rejected.
Such thinking comes from the idea that one must have “got there” in order be a person of status. The truth is we are in a constant process of “becoming,” so it is almost tautological that one cannot “be there” unless one has journeyed to that point, exposing oneself to new experiences, learning and development on the way.
The fact that we, as human beings, are processes rather than outcomes in themselves is at the core of this phenomenon. We are a constantly changing dynamic, never the same person from one moment to the next. Sometimes more resourceful, sometime less, sometimes living completely in the now, at other shaded with past associations, learning and limiting self-concepts. Despite this, we often get by with benchmarking who we are against the external world, which often has standards, expectations and narratives that support being a certain way.
Another way of looking at imposter syndrome is the fact that those people experiencing it have egos that are sufficiently circumspect, and they question who they are in relation to their fellow human beings. Far from egocentric arrogance, there is a modesty, a caution, a sense of self-reflection and an earnest attempt to ensure acceptance. In many cases, this could be rebadged as an increasingly rare quality we see these days “modesty.” The ability to recognise that where we get to as the sum combination of talent, intention, conspiracy of events and just plain luck, contributes to something that is less self-doubt or an inflated sense of success and much more akin to “humility”.
Many reflective people either require time or often display introversion qualities when surrounded by a world of “can-do” personalities, so it’s very hard to see these things as valuable and they register instead as deficits.
In an egocentric, postmodern world, where the ultimate focus is on “me,” our favourite subject of conversation becomes ourselves and so we very rarely connect in meaningful ways to have discussions about how we develop a balanced appraisal of ourselves in a world that loves certainty rather than debate.
So, when everyone is feeling that perhaps one shouldn’t be there, one has to ask the question “then who else?” and accept, that perhaps some virtuous thinking is at work in a conscientious person that strives, hopes, works and aspires. Such people have something very valuable by way of learning on offer those who are very much the centres of their own universe and offer true authenticity for the discerning!
Drawn in 1888 by John Tenniel (1820–1914), the first illustrator of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the same year of the Jack the Ripper murders in Whitechapel.
“There floats a phantom on the slum’s foul air
Shaping, to eyes which have the gift of seeing,
Into the spectre of that loathly lair.
Face it – for vain is fleeing.
Red-handed, ruthless, furtive, un-erect,
‘Tis murderous crime, the nemesis of neglect.”
The above illustration and piece of prose from an 1888 version of the satirical magazine Punch, also reproduced in the Illustrated London News, reflects the fact that knife crime has been with us for a long time. The Victorians had a great way of dramatising things, but knife crime is, and always has been somewhat dramatic to people.
Knives are ubiquitous, every day and easily obtained weapons. For the purposes of aggression or indeed for those of self-defence, they become, for many, the readily available weapon of choice. Suffuse this availability with other complex social phenomena and before you know it, knife crime is back with us.
In fact, it never left. Along with other crime statistics, knife crime interacts with complex variables in whatever age it occurs. Just as the slums of Whitechapel had their own problems, the modern world has its issues too. Indeed, many have associated knife crime as substantially a product of race, but this would be an oversimplification and an unfair projection on certain sectors of the community. The reality is, knife crime has not changed too much since the days of Jack the Ripper. Problems of mental health, addiction, class differences and poverty bedecked the streets of Victorian England every bit as much as in a comparative sense they do now. Young people in particular, with limited opportunity, often living in built-up conurbations where their social status is confronted with obvious privilege find little hope of realising any ambitions they may have. The attendant group closure and the need to protect oneself in a society which has seen austerity and decline impact on their educational opportunities and the very forces set into society to protect them, create a perfect storm for paranoia, tribalism, insular thinking and reactivity with scant regard to the consequences.
The stark reality is there are multiple victims to a knife crime. The tragic young people who have lost their lives, without provocation or implication in anything other than going about their day-to-day lives, are not the only victims. Perpetrators lives and opportunities, already limited, cut short completely as those apprehended are incarcerated from a young age and those not caught often have to find refuge in lives of downward spiralling criminality protected by criminals who would choose to exploit them for advantage. Families of both the deceased and perpetrators look on in grief and bewilderment as their hopes for the future are destroyed. Indeed, society itself, often has a habit of speculatively pointing an accusatorial finger at some form of parental deficit that may have contributed to what can only be described as tragedies.
For the victim and the perpetrator, a moment of lost thought, a second’s self-righteousness or assertion of power, results in a timeline of misery and unintended consequences.
Our modern media do not help with this in pursuit of ratings and to foster interest by the public, politicians are asked in interview to resign, rather than have a dialogue about the complex causes that result in these outcomes.
But despite the complexity, there is one fundamental cause at the heart of this issue. Punch got it over a century ago and the evidence is it is back with us with a vengeance. Poverty is no respecter of race, geography, social group or family.
In the sixth richest country in the world, years of austerity, whatever its certification, have seen the growth of food banks and increasing desperation among so many. The implementation of universal credit has taken ordinary citizens to consider taking their lives at an unprecedented level. The measures of providing direct rental from benefit, ensures the impoverished don’t make the mistake of robbing Peter to pay Paul only to find they are evicted through rental arrears was introduced in the 1970s. It revolutionised the housing stability of so many of our impoverished people. The ideologues overseeing universal benefit, lack the organisational memory to remember how important that mission was and have sought to reverse it with disastrous consequences.
Before we throw money that we don’t have at the situation, let’s use the funds we have for sensible measures. When it comes to Universal Credit, let’s ensure that its implementation is humane, calm and with the notion of administration to citizens in mind. Anybody seeing the film I, Daniel Blake and who has never drawn benefit, people of the 40 plus generation and older, shudder at the prospect ever having the misfortune of needing to rely on state aid, for it very clearly is not there alongside an increasingly unresponsive health service and a political class that does not listen to the population resulting in the Brexit debacle we now have.
Yes, poverty is the centre of knife crime and our political centre involves an arrogant elitist political class that has lost the ability to listen to ordinary people. Once we again are visited in ordinary lives and in the community at large by “the nemesis of neglect”.
As a species, we are not very good at looking ahead. We have scientists, planners and philosophers that can shed light on our future, but in reality, we tend to respond to life on a needs must basis, kicking the can of the foreseeable down the road.
Take for example the World Wide Web. The freedom of the Web allowed new paradigms of human communication and expression to take place. Equally that very freedom led to massive amounts of unacceptable content, creation of the dark web for illicit purposes, and, rampant cyber fraud. Whether for legal or illicit purposes our own data resulted in us becoming commoditised.
We are seeing the same with social media. Despite the well-intentioned hopes of Messrs Zuckerberg, and other tech giants, to connect us with the rest of the world for a positive and shared human experience, in reality, social media has become a platform for some of the most negative aspects of humanity.
People are influenced to behave in ways that, without exposure to the Web, they probably wouldn’t have considered. We hear of teenage girls, committing suicide; young people defecting to foreign shores to fight for ideological causes, or having involvement in something that is risky, illegal or just plain tasteless.
Information is issued without context or understanding of how it may be viewed. When consumed through a device screen, as part of our reality, information can become bland, anodyne and in some cases positively dangerous amongst the young, the desperate, the misguided or just plain naïve.
In true closing the door after the horse has bolted style, we now hear politicians of all colours calling for the greater regulation. Anyone with half an ounce of insight could see the information super highway had innate dangers from its outset. The problem is we don’t know what we don’t know. Social evils are often tolerated for a long time, until systems are threatened, people die and society changes in ways that are of concern. Interventions are not thoughtful, but remedial, and our legislators, and others, instead of countenancing care for the population, are caught in a perverse game of catch-up.
Let’s take our biggest challenge, the climate. It’s gratifying to see social media used to bring out the best in people; to allow young people to protest, but the problem needs to be unpicked. I wonder how many of those children are brought to school in gas guzzling 4x4s, by parents taking them overseas on a regular basis?
Commercially, there are 100 companies creating 80% of the pollution. The Government has taken EU guidance not to produce rolling roads, which could have detected lorries, many averaging just four miles per gallon, as well as the pollution they caused. Instead, Government appears to prefer to penalise the ordinary motorists who contribute just 10% of our pollution load. We are fiddling whilst Rome burns, often we are blaming the wrong people and guilting them into being part of the solution or taxing them excessively.
Can we really have the presence of mind to really forego our lifestyles for an issue? Or, is it better just to use social media to shout about changing the world without actually doing anything?
Worldwide, everyone is aware of the issues, but relatively few are prepared to take the pain of implementing, in some cases, very Draconian measures to correct what is wrong. These measure would require personal sacrifice, personal responsibility and thoughtfulness. It’s no good running a hybrid, if your neighbour sits in the car with his diesel engine running. The term ‘inconvenient truths’ has been directly linked to climate change. There are many inconvenient roles and responsibilities in the fallout of addressing this.
Meat returning to being a luxury item rather than regular fare; shrinkage of markets; buying high quality well-made materials that last rather than a disposable items destined for land-fill. All of these engender some of the challenges ahead. Frankly, none of us are prepared to think about these outcomes, not even governments; lest it affect the markets; lest it affect those ruling elites who will survive whatever Armageddon we may face ultimately.
So, let’s be touched by the children campaigning for change but recognise what really makes a difference. Personal responsibility suffused by those with the real means of control having an open heart over the bank balance.
My fear is that by the time we reach that level of realisation many species will have vanished from the planet and indeed our own may be in danger.
I was delighted to participate in a recent teleconference relating to late payment with Kelly Tolhurst MP and Paul Uppal, the Small Business Commissioner.
Representatives from companies large and small participated in the conference raising a whole number of issues with the small business minister including:
• The impact of large businesses creating excessive deferment periods for payment;
• The impact on small businesses and delayed payment by businesses small and large;
• The debate about voluntary codes versus the provision of out and out loud legislation and the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches;
• Despite the clarity offered by current legislation, enforcement of late payments with interest charges et cetera can often sour business relationships for subsequent transactions making most businesses avoid asserting their rights;
• The enormous extent of the late payment problem overall.
Delays in payment reference present several challenges for small companies. They involve those companies taking up the slack for the poor financial management of other organisations, incurring cash flow problems, inability to pay taxes, interest and other charges and for the smaller firm, enormous stress.
What was encouraging, was to see the receptiveness both of Kelly and Paul to try and better understand the challenges generated by this phenomenon and one gained a real sense that in this corner of government at least, a true commitment exists to trying to address this far from straightforward problem.
I get the sense we can all look forward with interest to the outcomes of these deliberations. Late payment is an all too recurrent experienced by many of our client companies at Gedanken and we frequently have to assist them to develop strategies to mitigate its impact on organisational growth.
By Dr David Cliff, Managing Director of Gedanken
If ever there were a time when confidence has been lost in our political system, it is now. At the time of writing, Britain’s departure date from the EU still hangs in the balance. The absence of clarity is palpable.
The lack of consensus comes about because there isn’t an acceptable position that would meet the most basic criteria in the minds of our political classes, or, indeed the wider population. Remain voters are bitter about being torn from the state of Europe. They fear a loss of identity and that we are descending into right-wing anarchy. Leave voters are not all racists, and most can embrace the complexity of the arguments, risks and responsibilities that independence involves. But even amongst these, very few assumed when they voted to leave, they would be doing so with the actual risk of saying “just go”.
Whilst Europe has been quite inflexible, the UK has been plain confused on how we can go about negotiations, tasks, timescales and notices such as article 50. Whilst untangling 45 years of a relationship with the supercontinent is a task reminiscent of unpicking the Gordian Knot, the UK does not deserve honourable mention in the world for the way we have conducted ourselves.
It is my belief that the UK brand has been tarnished. We are no longer seen as world leaders. Worse than that, there are many amongst the population who do not want to take pride in that position, preferring to see us as imperialists and exploiters of the past that now need to know our place.
Yes, the UK has an identity crisis but it’s not about coming out of Europe. We live in a diverse, multicultural community. Many young people take off and fight for a religious state; others feel actively discriminated against in a heartless benefit system. We live in the sixth richest country in the world; this system neither gives the young a platform to get on their feet, or the chronically dependent a dignity of life.
Our preoccupation with Europe continues and people fear what will happen after we leave. Frankly I do, for the forces that brought about the vote have remained substantially unaddressed. In a February viewing of Question Time, it was heartening to see members of the audience very happy to give up the HS2 investment locally in favour of the North, where it would confer greater benefit. Yet, this train will be hard to stop given the perverse mentality of a sink investment and vanity project all rolled together.
The turbulence of the coming and going of jobs, the gaining and losing of fortunes and a period of financial uncertainty pales into insignificance, next to the failure of unity as a nation. A unity that is possible and can be seen to be possible when the people actually engage in debate. Despite this, our politicians fail to listen and fail to trust in those processes, simply deriving mandates every 5 years that result in a vote for Labour or the Conservatives.
Our political system is as polarised as the Brexit vote itself and this itself reflects the underlying divide in our society. Proportional representation was kicked out some time ago, but probably needs some resuscitation at this point. However, even this is valueless if we cannot get over the ability of politicians to listen to what people are truly saying; to weigh the quietest voices in our community alongside the might of connected movers and shakers. The favoured and connected typically operate above the glass ceilings. But far beneath, there are many are who couldn’t even bounce up far enough to hit their heads!
History has been bedecked with challenging times.
The end of this year and the prospect of 2019 does, however, present us with an enormous number of challenges that need to be thoughtfully addressed to avoid dire long-term consequences.
On the horizon, most imminently for our economies and our future, is Brexit. Most people concede that they have rarely seen political turmoil and disunion like it outside of wartime. No one appears happy and everyone appears to feel that we have seen a distasteful set of choices based on the simple polarities of racism and jingoism on one side, the vested interests of certain people with great privilege on the other.
Brexit did not divide society, it simply identified a theme constantly present in our society of the haves and have-nots, of those that influence and those that do not, and of those who feel empowered and those who feel powerless. Whatever the future, we must enable all citizens to recognise the encouraging examples of when the people put their feet down, governments must listen. It is unfortunate that that principle has been confirmed in something as profound as whether or not we remain in the EU.
Next, let’s look at the planet. Working with entrepreneurs all the time, I’m the first to say that those that can create jobs in our society are to be celebrated, as it’s not for everyone. Equally, how this is ethically done with good governance and effective corporate social responsibility is critical. How can we venerate those who generate wealth, when so many have failed to take responsibility for how their product is manufactured and packaged?
It’s not apocalyptic in the short term. It’s slow, insidious and is everyone’s problem. Anyone who thinks that we can defer to leaders, manufacturers, and politicians needs to think again. Consumer buying power is pivotal and everyone can make a difference.
Then we have global warming. It’s no good politicians and others denying the rise in greenhouse gases and temperature levels, and some people abdicating responsibility by concluding the planet is finished. The problem with “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die”, practiced by so many, is that we’re usually alive the next morning to suffer the consequences.
We must also consider mental health. It’s great that we have an open debate, however we’re seeing more mental health problems than ever before. Some can be linked to past social unacceptability, a divided society, austerity cuts in services and other directly causative factors. Others, however, can be linked to the fact that to have a condition, for some, is almost a lifestyle choice. We have forgotten that challenge is part of the human condition that we often grow the most when facing difficult times. Pain and suffering are just as integral a part of the human condition as pleasure, and while we should ease it where we can, managing injustices where they occur, anxiety and unhappiness are, in some ways, part of the condition of living. To simply try and eradicate all misery is not only real unrealistic, it denies part of our humanity.
While I’d love to give an upbeat message at this time of year, the reality is the chips are pretty much down for all of us. We have to take responsibility, and be canny about how we balance different factors. It’s no good making a fortune if we exploit the planet. It’s no good pathologising periodic spells of unhappiness. Most of all, we must strive to be even more responsible citizens, better informing ourselves and being much more politically active, to draw those in power into proper debates and accountability.
May I wish you a responsible 2019
Dr David Cliff writes for Entrepreneur and Investor about survival and prosperity thinking.
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