Why Authenticity is key for our success

Over the last few months I’ve been more active on social media to give my personal views, both through regular posts and these blogs. I really believe in the importance of helping others and supporting individuals on their own journey. This led me first into working in Government, then into Diversity and Inclusion work, and most recently into coaching.

One of my initial blockers was whether I would come across cheesy, or insincere. There are after all many people who reshare inspirational quotes which we gloss by as we often find scattered through our Instagram and Linkedin feeds.

The answer for me was bringing a higher level of authenticity into what I say. I post things that I think will be genuinely helpful for people, and that I actually believe. After all, how can I give advice to anyone if I don’t believe it myself?

As humans, we are far more likely to be attuned to and be interested in genuine authenticity. In a world where we’re often given half-truths or obfuscated information, we crave someone who is willing to be honest and open with what they say. Genuine honesty is a rare commodity. And like any rare commodity, it is valued highly.

So bringing this to you. Understanding your genuine authentic self and being willing to share your message is far more likely to get you where you want to go, whatever situation you may be in. Let’s say you’ve been pushing for a promotion and your manager is aware you’re keen to progress. Have you stated the reason why you want that next job? Perhaps it’s to increase your salary to provide for your own family, which is something you may not have mentioned outwardly. Try actually saying this out loud. If not to anyone else, to yourself.

If you were to say this out loud to any neutral person, I would be hard pressed to find anyone who would not support you with your goal. By being authentic and open, we are creating our own set of cheerleaders which will only serve to help us in the long run. Furthermore, we’re more likely to be in tune with ourselves when we are verbalizing our own desires.

Naturally there are times you will not want to tell the truth all of the time. I have already previously written about the difficulties of a toxic workplace in a previous blog. Your own self-preservation is absolutely critical before being able to open up authentically. It is why I believe so ardently in Diversity and Inclusion, as it enables people to be their more authentic selves in the workplace and beyond.

To give a more concrete example, I’m going to write about something on my mind below. I want you to notice how you feel:

I am really enjoying writing on social media about self development, coaching and Diversity and Inclusion. My aspiration is that I can do this as a career and leave my full-time job in the next few years. I am worried about leaving the safety of my job (which I must say is a good job that I am fortunate to have!), but I also know that I will not find the level of fulfillment I desire if I stay long-term. This is something I am currently battling with, so I am looking to find new avenues of work to see if I can truly make it by going it alone.

How did reading this make you feel?

Being authentic will benefit you in the long run. It will also deepen your relationship with the people that matter. So take a moment to think how you can be more authentic in your interactions, perhaps ‘unlocking’ certain off-limit conversations that you never have with workplace colleagues or friends. I would love to hear how you go with this, so do let me know in the comments!

Do you know what your personal strengths are?

Think of someone you know well and have seen a lot of over a long period of time. Take a few moments to think about what their relative qualities are. What skills do they have, and what are their personal qualities that are their greatest strengths?

What are they?

This may be something you have not actively stop to consider for the people close to you. Nonetheless, you probably have some idea of what they are quite good at and aspects of their temperament that mean they would be well suited in certain situations compared to others. We’re probably not going to be completely accurate, but we’ll at least have a fairly good idea.

But what if we’re not talking about someone else – what if we are talking about you? Do you know what your own strengths are?

It is a quirk of human nature that we tend to be more observant of others than we are of ourselves. But whilst we may spend a lot of time with others, we will spend 100% of our time with ourselves. And yet, when we are asked questions about ourselves we find the question uncomfortable and bizarre. A normal response is a cloak of false modesty followed by ‘I don’t know’. People also often talk about what they do in their job, and therefore what they are good at through that. But being good at a skill is different to understanding your own personal strengths. Is it not strange that we know so little about ourselves?

We know people who have worked in certain jobs all their lives, and yet we know that does not define them as an individual nor what the qualities they bring to that job are – they may be detail-oriented, hard-working, innovative, creative, adaptable or many other characteristics. This is a different mix to the next person doing the exact same job.

Most of us as individual’s don’t actually knowmuch about ourselves. And whilst we can take the advice of our nearest and dearest to observe us, they are not the ones joining us in our job interviews, nor deciding what we want to do in life. Instead, we are making our own life decisions. But we are missing critical information.

So take a bit of time out of your day today to genuinely ask yourself what your strengths are. Try to think about specific character traits that you bring into the different facets of your life. You are of course welcome to ask other people for their perspective as well, but they will only have a limited view so don’t follow the advice of others religiously.

You will not gain a full understanding of yourself overnight, but by understanding what your strengths are, you will have an easier time navigating what you might want to do in the future. And remember, strengths are not set in stone; you can build new ones and some strengths can shift as your priorities change.

Why we need Black History Month

Black History Month takes place annually during the month of October in the UK. The month is an opportunity for us to understand more about our collective history from the perspective of black people. It is also an opportunity to commemorate the struggles as well as the achievements of black people across the UK, past and present.

Black History Month is incredibly vital. The events of this year through the Black Lives Matter movement have demonstrated the need for greater understanding of race relations, now more than ever before. Black History Month has been taking place for many years, and we should not pretend that this has only been an issue recently. Stephen Lawrence Day takes place on 22 April, in commemoration of the death of a black teenage boy who was killed in a racially motivated attack in 1993. It took until 2002 for a murder conviction.

By putting a spotlight onto the issue of black people across the UK, we can build our wider understanding of issues black people face in their lives, and the burden placed by a history of oppressions and slavery. It is incredibly powerful to see how these play out on individuals in modern day; black staff being told that they are aggressive, do not have leadership potential and being addressed as the assistant next to their white counterparts.

I attended the Civil Service Black History Month Launch event yesterday, where all of these issues were starkly highlighted. It is tough to hear, especially when these same complaints come from those who have made it towards the ‘top’, and yet are still facing the exact same issues that black colleagues all around us face on a day-to-day basis.

One complaint about such set-piece months is that it can create a sub-culture of sorts: black history month tends to be dominated by black and BAME individuals in attendance, with few outside of these groups attending. In some senses this is natural, white people may feel that black history does not relate to them.

However, this fundamentally undermines the point – black history is all of our history, it is simply looking at it from a different lens. Like many issues around Diversity and Inclusion, this needs to be seen as a societal event, not just one for those in the relevant diversity group. So we need to take this as a collective responsibility no matter what our background if we are to learn and grow as a society.

Indeed, someone like myself who is not black has most to learn by attending these events – I have gained so much valuable experience and knowledge from my black colleagues that I simply would not have otherwise. This has helped me understand the perspective of black people much better, as well as the issues that modern Britain still faces. I would rarely get the chance to do so otherwise.

So I would greatly encourage you to get involved with black history – especially if you are not black. There is so much to learn and celebrate, and this information is lost if you do not take the time to listen to it for yourself.

Creating a holistic Diversity and Inclusion Strategy

This week in the UK is National Inclusion Week, an opportunity to champion everyday inclusion and a chance to bring a spotlight to Diversity and Inclusion.

Last week I wrote an article about why diversity and inclusion matters, where I highlighted both the moral and business case for more emphasis on making Diversity and Inclusion a priority as part of our modern day workplace.

The tricky part of Diversity and Inclusion is figuring out how to start. After all, the subject is quite a thorny one, and everyone will have their own opinions on what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. This fear of doing something accidentally wrong, or previous experiences of being burnt when trying to broach the topic often leads senior leaders to avoid the subject as much as possible.

Unfortunately, simply avoiding the issue is not a viable solution in 2020 – the Black Lives Matter movement demonstrates how critical it is for businesses to be able to have difficult conversations on these issues in a confident manner. Customers and Employees are expecting businesses to have genuine strategies to improve the situation in their own workplaces and for the wider public they serve.

This leads many organisations to develop their own Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. Naturally this is a difficult topic to avoid criticisms for tokenism, so how can organisations look at this in a holistic manner? Here are some areas to look at:


Organisations often start with a relatively homogenous workforce. Statistically they may find that they have an underrepresentation of women, ethnic minorities, disabled and LGBT+ staff. A natural starting point is looking at the talent coming through the doors. How many staff from diverse backgrounds are making it into interview? Are they even applying in the first place? Understanding the pipeline will help understand where the blockages are. It is then possible to take remedial measures.

For example, if there is a lack of BAME applicants applying, more outreach can be done to areas with a high BAME population. If you are then finding many are not making it to interview, look at your job adverts and see whether your requirements are genuinely open to people with different experiences or have been written in a way that has a certain type of person already in mind.

Inclusive Culture

You may have improved your recruitment practices, what happens then? Getting staff from different backgrounds through the door in of itself is not the solution – if your organisation does not make any shift to the culture or hold one that is inclusive, what you often find ensuing shortly after is some level of disharmony within the workplace.

Often where there is only one BAME or woman staff in the team with little efforts to integrate them, it can be very easy for these individuals to feel the odd one out. And whilst we would love to simply expect people to adapt to the people around others from whatever background, the reality is that we naturally gravitate to those who are similar to us.

So we need to build genuine efforts to make our workplaces inclusive, where it is open as possible for anyone from any background to come in and thrive. Culture takes time to change, and requires senior leaders to genuinely bring these conversations and hear people’s stories to start the conversation.

Some smaller wins include making team socials more inclusive (e.g. having breakfasts as well as the usual pub visits to include more people); build staff networks within your organisation to allow groups to come together and share their experiences; make your working practices as flexible as possible in terms of working hours and being output focussed in performance management rather than hours spent at the desk.

Retention and Progression

One area to be wary of is diverse staff joining then quickly leaving the organisation. This can be very frustrating when a lot of effort has been put into bringing these people in. Without genuine inclusion, people will often feel excluded and will look to the door rather than staying in the organisation.

Similarly, what often happens in an organisation is women and staff from BAME backgrounds tend to get stuck at the bottom. Often there are issues relating to pidgeon-holing and unconscious bias at play, where individuals are type-cast as unable to progress due to not having ‘leadership traits’ which are often built in the mold of its founders, rather than allowing different styles of leadership in.

Lack of opportunities is often cited as an issue, particularly for BAME staff. It would be a good idea to monitor how such staff are feeling about their prospects to get a good litmus test on how your D&I strategy is working.

Other areas to consider

Whilst not specifically on the subject of what should be in a D&I strategy, I did want to highlight a few more areas to consider:


Data is absolutely paramount to understanding what is happening within our organisations. If you cannot understand why people are leaving within a year, it is vital you understand why. To successfully monitor a D&I strategy, you may need to overhaul your current HR systems with an ability to properly monitor application rates from different backgrounds. Exit interviews are also a vital way to understand why employees are leaving and an opportunity for genuinely honest feedback.


Let’s face it. We’ve all seen dozens of strategies pass through our inboxes. Most of them are simply glanced over and little due regard is paid to them after a week or two.

So getting staff genuinely engaged in what you are trying to do is really critical. Building your support structures within the organisation through volunteers that are enthusiastic to the cause is really vital. Also remember that much of this strategy will be delivered by managers across the organisation, so if you have done little to tell them what they need to do, the chances of it actually happening are pretty slim.

One final reflection is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to a good Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. Each organisation will have its different strengths and challenges; some may find a high proportion of women and low proportion of BAME staff, others may find the reverse. So it is critical for firms to look at their own situation and build a realistic amibition of where they would like to further improve.

Those are my tips for creating a holistic Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. Are there any additional things that you would add?

Why Diversity and Inclusion Matters

Next week is National Inclusion week in the UK, following which is Black History Month in October (also the UK date!); two important calendar dates for those involved in Diversity and Inclusion.

For anyone who hasn’t entered the office workplace, ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ or D&I sounds like some garbled office speak; indeed that was certainly my impression when I first started my career. Some also stick in Equity or Equality in the title. But why does this matter?

Diversity and Inclusion is looking at how we embrace difference and use it to our advantage in our workspace. It is about valuing people for who they are and being open to different opinions and backgrounds. At its best, it is about bringing different voices together to form a better decision-making process for optimal outcomes.

When I first entered the workplace, I found the concept quite strange. Naively, I rather presumed that Diversity and Inclusion was somewhat obvious – surely people would be treated on the merits of what they do, and valued for their own experiences?

Unfortunately, most office environments have a particularly hierarchical dynamic, with little chance to input. This usually means that the ‘boss’ gives their opinion and everyone else scrambles to enact it. There is little discussion as to whether the option is the best one. In an increasingly complex world, the opinion from one person is less likely to be correct now more than ever.

So Diversity and Inclusion is about trying to break through all of this. By bringing in people with diverse backgrounds, whether it be coming from an impoverished background, ethnic minorities, LGBT+, individuals with a disability or any other number of characteristics, we are bringing in different experiences. This helps us understand our ever-growing diverse customer base. It is worth noting:

  • 18% of Working Age Population reported they have a disability today
  • 1 in 2 young people (18-25) did not define as “100% straight” in a YouGov poll from 2015
  • As of 2011 14% of the UK are ethnic minorities. This number will increase with the next census in 2021. Over 30% of of people in London are ethnic minorities.

However, genuine inclusion is critical. For those of us who have worked in the area, we have often seen diversity schemes fail due to their inability to integrate diverse individuals, meaning they are often sidelined or simply an intern sitting on the side of the meeting taking notes. Diversity without Inclusion usually leads to worse results than no effort at all, as bringing in people from diverse backgrounds with little attempt to integrate them will simply create disharmony.

The latest influential report by McKinsey ‘Diversity wins: how inclusion matters’ demonstrates that more diverse boards have a much higher likelihood of financial performance, making this a business imperative. And in a continuing fight for the best talent between firms across the world, we can no longer restrict ourselves to the same talent pools as we once used.

So I hope you can take a moment to celebrate Inclusion week next week if you are in the UK. Even if you do not work in D&I particularly, you can still attend events online, support any diversity staff networks you may have or voluntary initiatives outside of the workplace.

You can find all the rest of my articles at https://tahmidchowdhury.co.uk/blog/. Sign up to my mailing list if you would like to receive them on a weekly basis to ensure you don’t miss them!

Why we need to learn to be bored

When was the last time you were bored?


It has been a pretty uncomfortable journey during quarantine. For those of us fortunate enough to own our gizmos of electronic devices, much of our social and work interaction has now moved online. I have both a work and personal phone, a work and personal laptop as well as TV, games console and tablet. These are all within 10 metres of where I spend most of my time. It is crazy to count the sheer amount of things I have around me to keep me entertained.

Remember when the lockdown first started, and our ability to just pop to the shops for basically anything was curtailed? It was difficult making this shift, as we suddenly had to change our behaviour to restrict our ability to just get or do what we want pretty much whenever. For me living in London, shops were often open until 9pm. But even then, we adjusted, and simply moved our behaviours to online shopping and entertained ourselves through online streaming services and social media.

And whilst the technology serves its purpose and is a positive way to keep us connected, there are certainly negative side effects that have slowly grown into our habits. For example, we are unable to sit still and simply be without needing to reach for our phones. If you don’t believe me – try it.

Try for the next few minutes to simply sit down and do nothing.

It is a little scary at how difficult this is to do.

We are unable to sit still without feeling anxious and fidgety. When sitting in a waiting room or standing in the queue for a till, we often just take out our phone out of pure habit, and we scroll through the latest news and our social media platforms without even thinking. I opened my web browser every time I got out my phone as pure muscle memory. So when I moved the shortcut button off my homepage I ended up constantly pressing a blank button. I did that at least five times in about six hours.

As a society, we are growing increasingly aware of the dangers of spending too much time on social media and the effect it has on our mental health. This connection is also having issues with our sleep – we often look at our phones before going to sleep and as soon as we wake up. Our brains get tired from the constant simulation, and we feel low due to the streams of negative news and our comparison of people achieving far more than us. Even when we take a ‘day off’, we usually lie in bed scrolling on our phones! We know this is the case, but find it extremely difficult to stop our behaviour patterns.

So what do I propose? Whilst spending less time on social media would certainly be a positive intention, it is far easier said than done. Whilst I do things like putting my phone on airplane mode and make sure I shut my laptop at the end of the day, if I’m not careful the overwhelming urge to check the internet will override any attempts I make. Realistically, I rely on technology for my way of life, so going cold turkey isn’t going to work in the long term.

Instead, I believe in treating the root cause of the problem. Which is, as you’ve probably guessed, overcoming our fear of being bored. We feel so uncomfortable by it that we need to find something to do. Even if we don’t want to. We are unable to sit still.

I went for some brunch this weekend, and there was a bird sitting within a nest, presumably warming its egg. I was there for an hour or so, and the bird just sat there. The bird did not fidget. It did not start making adjustments to its nest. It certainly didn’t need to check its phone. It just sat. I only watched it for the hour, but it sat there much longer. Can we be like a humble bird in a nest?

What we can try is to take some time every day to sit still and do nothing. Remove ourselves from distractions and just simply be. Indeed lots of mindfulness and meditation exercises are based upon this premise. And if you find it difficult because your mind is constantly racing, remember that it takes practice, and that you can always return to concentrate on your breathing.

It is going to be very uncomfortable at first. But little by little, it is possible. After all, even a generation ago we didn’t have this issue. And as time goes on, the next time you have a break, hopefully you won’t feel the urgent need to look at the latest news, or your Instagram feed. Instead, you might be able to simply enjoy a quick walk outside for some fresh air.

Why people aren’t listening to your advice

We all love giving advice. After all, with our vast and varied life experience, who wouldn’t find what we say valuable? And in an age of ever-more free flow of conversation, collaboration and agile working, surely throwing our opinions into the mix will help the great melting pot of ideas?

But it can be pretty annoying that the people around us can often ignore us. Take that work colleague that keeps getting stuck up on how their spreadsheet is formatted. You’re pretty sure they’ve spent the last two hours fiddling away with it and will probably leave work late again. Out of the kindness of your heart, you pop over and helpfully state ‘If I were you I wouldn’t worry about it’.

Frustratingly, the colleague will reply something ‘yeah, you’re probably right, but I am just trying to get this one thing right’ and continue as if you had said nothing at all. How exasperating, we were only trying to help and yet we were completely ignored.

Let’s flip this around. Imagine we’re trying to decide what next career move we want to go for. It’s confusing, and it’s hard to know what exactly the right answer is. We casually mention this to an acquaintance. This then suddenly prompts a long monologue that we should get into coding as this is the new craze. Their cousin started doing it and is now earning a six figure sum and living in the States. We politely nod, but are immediately turned off by the fact we have absolutely zero interest in coding whatsoever. This doesn’t stop the person giving his advice. We squirm, desperately searching for the nearest exit.

I am certain that every one of us has been in both situations. On the one hand, we are driven to be helpful and give our thoughts and experiences. On the other hand, for the most part, we detest unsolicited advice.

So how can we do this all a bit more constructively? Well, I personally believe that we find unsolicited advice annoying for good reason: it is often a non-contextual thought that takes little account of us, and often is more to make the giver feel better rather than actually genuinely being helpful. Having heard a lot of terrible advice myself, I’m quite happy to ignore random opinions that pay little interest in my personal wants and needs. I realise that sometimes there will be good advice splattered in there, but I know that I find it much harder to take seriously if I’ve not asked for it.

So if the reception of the advice is not the problem, then perhaps we need to focus on the delivery. We want to give advice because we feel we have relevant experience, and so believe we are going to help that person. Let’s face it, giving advice makes us feel wise, experienced and knowledgeable. In other words, it strokes our ego.

But are we really focusing on what is genuinely helpful here? If the advice only serves to antagonize and stress the person, you are being unhelpful, despite the implicit idea of giving advice being well-meaning. This includes even if it is good, solid advice. So in actual fact, it would have been better to have said nothing at all.

Now this is quite a strange concept in our culture of encouraging gregarious, chatty people. It can certainly feel uncomfortable having something burning to contribute and not doing so. And yet, in certain situations this would be the optimal outcome. So perhaps take a moment to think whether your advice will actually be received gratefully before offering it. You are an intelligent human being, and you will know when someone is open to advice or not. So use the social cues in the conversation.

I leave you with one other final but related thought: if we spent half as much time following our own advice as we do spend advising others, we would all be twice as advanced as a society. So if you’re struggling with this nagging urge to give your advise, perhaps the best person you can advise is yourself.

You can find all the rest of my articles at https://tahmidchowdhury.co.uk/blog/. Sign up to my mailing list if you would like to receive them on a weekly basis to ensure you don’t miss them!

Are you in control of how happy you feel?

How often is your day wrecked by one of the following: an annoying email request; unhelpful comment from someone you know; bad piece of news whilst scrolling through your newsfeed; or all of the above? How big an effect does this have on your happiness?

Many of us feel unhappy with our current situation, be it due to our finances, current job, relationship, or practically anything else. Some people in life accept this as their lot, and feel they are destined to be a silent form of generally unhappy as that is the cards life dealt them.

Some of us though strive to change our situation. Have a job that makes us miserable? We look to change it. Unhelpful comments from your manager? We look to confront them. By doing this, we expect that by solving the things that are making us unhappy, this will stop the problem and lead us to a land of bliss.

But has this really worked for you – are you now happy?

Yes, we can get a new job which may help, but unless the old one was exceptionally bad, we will probably find things about the new job that frustrate us and not be exactly what we want. Whilst we might confront a colleague over the comments they make, this will probably not solve an underlying issue with their behaviour, and might just shift to an awkward unfriendly relationship.

Perhaps there is a different approach we can take. In all of the examples above, what we have looked to change is the situation around us, rather than changing ourselves. In other words, there are many things that can make us unhappy in life, but do we have to let them make us unhappy?

Let’s take the example of an unhelpful comment from a friend, colleague or relative. These can upset us, and we can often feel torn. We feel upset on the inside, as if we don’t confront them, we will regret it later. But equally, we also calculate whether it is really worth the emotional baggage of a full-blown argument if we do confront them.

Instead, imagine the situation where rather than getting irritated by a small comment, we are simply not be bothered by it. We avoid all of the stress going on internally, and the potential argument with the individual. The situation floats away like a plastic bag in the wind, and we just get on with our life.

Whether we like it or not, we are not in control of what other people say, think or do. We are also not in total control of the situation around us. However, what we can be in control of is how we experience our situation, and whether we allow the situation to make us upset or not.

Now I’m not saying that there is no value in shifting things that are making you unhappy such as your job or financial situation, but we are unlikely to get the fixes we want quickly, and often these might be down to things outside of our control (e.g. a global pandemic!!). It is also important to say that there are times where it is completely legitimate to be unhappy, such as at a funeral. In fact – you probably would want to be sad there.

But in most examples I’ve seen, simply being less upset by things would probably help us. Simply put, most of the things that bother us do not matter in the grand scheme of things. Don’t believe me? Write down all the things that annoyed you in the last week. Now ask yourself how many of them you are likely to recall in your deathbed. For me, the answer is zero.

So how do we get to this zen state of bullet-proof immunity? I would be lying if I said I had got there fully myself! Nonetheless, there are a few things we can do:

  1. Understand that we can be in control of how we feel. We are able to change how we react to a situation. Our job does not force us to be miserable. Instead, we react to the situation of our job by being miserable. We are capable of changing this feeling.
  2. Assess whether the source of negative emotion is genuinely important in the grand scheme of things (is that unwashed mug at the tea point going to be the end of the world?)
  3. Check whether the person who is making a comment actually means to make you feel bad. If they did, does their opinion even matter to you?
  4. Understand that people have their own perspective on things which is most probably different to our own. This will naturally bring up disagreements. It is not personal.
  5. Accept the people around us as flawed but good human beings. Everyone has faults, and will likely display them at some point. At times we might be on the receiving end of it. Again, this is not personal.

So now it’s over to you. How are you going to shift how you feel about the things that are making you unhappy?

Overcoming the dreaded ‘Imposter Syndrome’​

Imposter Syndrome is the feeling of being a fraud. Rather than getting to your current position, you feel like you have lucked your way through. You now fear being found out for this fact.

Imposter Syndrome sadly is a fairly common trait in the modern world; probably due to the prevalence of social media leading us to compare our lives with one another, mixed in with impossibly high requirements for entry-level jobs. in my own experience through coaching, it is a topic that has come up alarmingly frequently and is seemingly more prevalent in women and ethnic minorities (probably due to a sense of being an outsider).

The issue with Imposter Syndrome is that it can be extremely debilitating for an individual’s confidence and sense of self-worth. If you do not feel like you belong, you will naturally second guess any action you do. You are probably going to suffer from anxiety from the concern that one day people will realise you don’t deserve to be there. Needless to say, this plays havoc on mental health, career progression as well as your wider sense of well-being.

Unfortunately Imposter Syndrome is also often misunderstood by those who do not suffer from it. The common advice given is to simply be more confident, be more visible in meetings or ‘fake it till you make it’. None of these actually address the underlying issue that of the individual’s self perception, instead it looks to simply cover it up. Whilst this may work in the short term, it will leave the individual still feeling anxious and if anything, even more of a fraud. In other words, this is the equivalent of an emotional band-aid over a crack in the ceiling.

So what can you do to overcome Imposter Syndrome? Here are some ideas to support you:

Don’t take job application rejection or a bad grade personally

There are so many applications we now need to do in life. The reality is that we will all receive thousands of rejection emails over our lifespan. Sometimes it might be that we’re not quite the right fit, sometimes it might be a weird online assessment that just rejects us for not inputting some answers fast enough. Whatever it is, it’s important that we don’t take these rejections to heart. Take some time to learn about recruitment process – it quickly becomes apparent it is often just a game of chance and being able to say the right things at the right time.

The moment I realised applications were really just a hoop-jumping game it took some pressure off, as if I was rejected it meant it was just that I didn’t play the game well enough through application and interview, rather than because I as a person was not good enough. So don’t let the computer saying ‘no’ bring you down, what does it know, anyway!?

Find your cheerleaders

It’s hard to be objective on our own successes, and we are often our own harshest critic. We are more than happy to praise others for their achievements, and support them up when they need it. So following that logic, we will want to surround ourselves with people who will genuinely support us and remind us of what we have achieved.

In the workplace setting, getting a mentor who can be our work ‘cheerleader’ and support us through the ups-and-downs will go a long way in giving us an extra bit of confidence when applying for jobs. Everyone appreciates a second opinion, and if we can build a relationship with someone we can honestly confide in, they can help give us a realistic assessment. This is particularly critical when looking at things like promotions, where our own inner critic is likely going to say we are not ready, or need more experience.

Remember your strengths and successes

Whilst a cheerleader will always be beneficial in our down moments, it is also up to us to tell ourselves our successes and what we are genuinely good at doing.

By knowing what our strengths and successes are, we are more likely to appreciate the journey we have embarked upon to get to where we are now. What often happens is that we realise we take a lot of our achievements for granted, e.g. completing university, getting a job, having a relationship, surviving 6 months abroad etc. However, these facts are critical to what makes us as individuals, and also frame our own story.

If this is difficult for you, take 10-15 minutes with a journal to write down every notable success that you’ve had in your life up to now. Then, dissect why you were successful to get a good idea of what your strengths might be. Now once you have your list of strengths and successes, test whether they fit with the reality you are in now. If they don’t, keep refining the list of strengths that you have until they feel right. This is an ongoing process, and we are always learning more about ourselves.

Reframe where our validation comes from – external to internal

This is the most difficult step, but ultimately the one that will dramatically shift Imposter Syndrome as it will cut off the anxiety from its source. Imposter Syndrome often comes from the worry of others finding out that we are not good enough. The implicit idea behind it is that our validation comes from others in terms of how we are seen by them, rather than from within and what we believe in ourselves.

This most likely comes from our upbringing where we are taught to excel in our grades to gain favour with our teachers and parents, teaching us to feed off external validation, rather than the satisfaction of a job well-done for ourselves. This is a separate point I made in a previous article.

So what can we do to shift our need for approval from others to an internal source of strength? I will admit that this is not an easy journey, and one that will not happen overnight. It would also likely benefit from coaching to better understand the root causes for you as an individual.

One thing you can try is working on your life narrative – your superhero story that looks at how you were born, had difficulties but overcame them to get to where you are today. Building this into a positive message can make a massive difference to our internal sense of worth.

Remember that our mind recalls what we want to recall – if you look at this in a negative mindset you will only remember the times where you did badly or a reason to explain away your achievements. If you look at it from a positive mindset, you are far more likely to recall when you excelled. Using this, you can start to re-route your confidence to stem from your own efforts and achievements, rather than from others giving you validation.

I will be honest in that I’ve not really suffered from Imposter Syndrome (sorry if you made it this far expecting otherwise!). This probably stems from my inner confidence that I have developed, as well as my natural skepticism of following other people’s rules (I am a tempered radical at heart!).

Whilst I have certainly had a very critical inner voice in the past, once I overcame this I did not find this an issue, mainly because I didn’t worry too much what others thought, as long as I believed in myself. That being said, I would re-emphasise the point I made earlier – simply copying me or anyone else who seems confident is unlikely to be successful, as what worked for me will probably not work for you.

This article was a slightly longer one, but I know lots of people have talked around the subject of Imposter Syndrome, so I wanted to make it one useful for you! Let me know if you’ve found it helpful and whether you have any comments on the subject!

What do you want your legacy to be?

What do you want to be remembered by?

Imagine you are on your deathbed. What do you want to look back upon in your life as your proudest achievement(s)?

If they were asked about you, what would your closest friends (and enemies!) say about you?


Life can be confusing. At times it can be incredibly hectic and filled with a never-ending list of things to do. Other times it can be unexciting, with our brain is desperately trying to find ways to pass the time (and if you’re especially unlucky, your life can be both hectic and boring…)

As we follow the treadmill of life through our various stages of adolescence through to adulthood, the question that usually is on our minds is often ‘what’s next?’ How do we get that dream job, new house etc.

Let’s take a step back.

Take a moment now to reflect on what you want to do with your life. It does not need to be fully thought out, but just a short statement of what you would like to achieve.

Once you are ready, let’s bring it back to your life right now. Are you on the path to achieving what you want to do?

If you are, then great! You are working towards the achievements you want for your life. Hopefully you are feeling content and fulfilled. If you aren’t, you may want to visit what may be causing this disconnect: whether the reality of your dreams are different to what you had hoped, or perhaps something else.

If you responded ‘no’, how does it feel to say this out loud? If you are feeling motivated to do so, what could you do to make some change in you life to take you towards what you are like to do?

Alternatively, you may be feeling that lots of people have asked you about ‘life missions’, and the honest answer is that you don’t know, which is a completely acceptable response! So if this is the case, what would you like to do to figure this out?

Asking ourselves what we want to achieve, and what our legacy is can feel like a bit of an odd exercise. Nevertheless, I’ve personally always found it extremely enlightening to reflect upon why I do what I do, and what I want to leave behind. It is what motivates me to strive for positive social change through my coaching career.

So, what do you want your legacy to be?