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I’m told that both Maya Angelou and Albert Einstein suffered from Imposter Syndrome. Each believed themselves to be a fraud. Whatever the evidence, their fear was their talents did not merit the attention they gained.

Yet I believe that most of us would agree that the world is a better place for their having somehow overcome this syndrome. They continued to offer their best thinking, work and talents, and to shape and influence the world today.

Maybe magnified by the pandemic, in the last three months I have heard a lot of my clients, in one to one coaching or as part of a leadership programme, talk about their own Imposter Syndrome.

Upon probing, this usually seems to relate to a lack of confidence, or variation in confidence, in their skills and abilities.

Right now, objectively, it is extremely hard and the statistics are getting worse. In the UK there are new strains of Coronavirus, infection levels are sky high, there are more hospital admissions than the first wave, and even with two vaccines now the roll out rate still feels frustratingly slow.

And that’s before the impact of new regulations from Brexit as we enter the New Year!

One thing that could help us with the challenges ahead is to stay close to, stop doubting and stop hiding our genuine capability. It would help our teams, our customers and our families if we were to use our talents to the best of our abilities.

If like some of the people I have been working with, your confidence in our current context is variable, here are some thoughts from a recent video interview between New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Sir John Kirwan to help:

What I really loved about how Jacinda Ardern talks is that rather than see her Imposter Syndrome as something permanent and static, she sees it as a prompt for inquiry; a way to ask questions to find out how to improve. Rather than allowing her self doubt to limit her contribution, she tries to channel her thinking into something more positive. She says:

 “I have tried to channel that gnawing lack of confidence into something that drives me to be better. I ask: ‘Why am I feeling a bit worried about that, does it mean I need to do a bit more prep, do I need to think more about my decision making?’”

Might this be a useful approach for you too?

The world needs all of our talents to be active at work right now, not just those of Maya Angelou, Albert Einstein, key workers, NHS staff etc.

Perhaps 2021 is the year for you to turn your self doubt into something more positive too?

It’s well worth listening to the full interview with Jacinda Ardern to hear her story on how.

Gill How loves to work with managers, executives and professionals to help them stretch and grow. She is a Master Executive Coach and Innovative Leadership Developer who works both internationally and in the UK.

Get in touch for a virtual coffee here:

If you are interested in a leadership programme, take a look at some LinkedIn posts from delighted participants of a recent WomenInTech programme here:

Susan Brennan Sharon Hunter Tamlyn Stinson Helena Bishop Tass Smith

Full details of the “Empowering You” programme are here:

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Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Gill How

Helping leaders grow, step up and deliver outstanding results


  • Natasha says:

    Love that Jacinda Ardern isn’t afraid about keeping it real. Salute.

    • Gill How says:

      I so agree! And her thoughts about how leadership can continue to evolve, at the end of the video, are really interesting too! Happy New Year!

  • Thank you Gill as always. I am finding that it is a case that I must use my dormant skills for my future. These skills were just put aside for a bit.

  • Thank you Gill , I feel that by showcasing my strengths it will help me sustain an income. Bit also nervous sometimes to share all my skills and talents as I feel there are lots of imposters.

    • Gill How says:

      Hi Roshinee, a great idea to tell the world about your strengths, skills and talents. My thoughts are if you do this in a what feels true way, also using feedback from others to calibrate, your representation will be not too much and not too little. Best wishes for 2021!

  • Olwen says:

    Hi Gill. I enjoyed the interview with Jacinda Ardern. How refreshing it was to hear her speak so openly about herself. She comes across as very down to earth, self aware and principled. A breath of fresh air.

    I also found the video clip about habits very useful as a practical approach to achieving goals or simply providing focus at a time of uncertainty.

    Thank you.

  • Corinna Kingston says:

    Wonderful post Gill! I love your perspective and the interview with Jacinda Ardern reminding us that we are not static along with the skill of inquiry helping us to reframe.

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