Imposter Syndrome

Hello fears, put your feet up, would you like a cup of tea?

One thing I wish I knew when I was eighteen (or eight for that matter) is that pretty much everyone feels like a fraud a little (or a lot) of the time.

When I look back on my career in ad land, I was always fearful that people would catch me out for not being as good at my job as I should be and everyone thought I was. It didn’t matter how many awards, promotions or pay rises came to me, deep down there was a story in my head which said that “I’m not good enough and I need to try harder”.

In 2011 on a trip to San Francisco, I caught up with my first Executive Creative Director, who at the time was working at Apple. He was congratulating me on my recent promotion to Creative Director, which is why I was visiting his city (as well as seeing the Full House and Mrs Doubtfire houses of course).


Exhausted after a couple of long days and late nights in a glass room trying to crack the campaign idea with a team of creatives, I took a deep breath and confessed “I feel like I have no idea what I am doing and am doubting myself constantly, everyone else seems so confident, I don’t know how I will ever feel that’.

He laughed and said:

“Nobody knows what they are doing, we are all just working it out as we go along.” 

Hearing those words from someone that I looked up to so much was such a whopping great big relief. All of a sudden I was able to let down the façade of ‘having it all together’.

If I didn’t know the answer to a question, I discovered that saying ‘I don’t know, what do you think?’ was totally valid. Little by little (baby steps) I began creating a new story for myself based on the thought that maybe just maybe, being me (rather than a super human version of myself) was enough.

I allowed myself to spill over the edges of the perfect little box that I was trying to cram myself into. I enjoyed work more. The creative ideas flowed.

Don’t squeeze your amazingness into a perfect little box. Take all the space you need and spill over the sides.

For more on overcoming your fears, sharing your gifts and serving the world by being you, check out my first book, Light Is the New Black.

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