As another weekend draws to an untimely end, 35 hours of soul destroying tedium circles through your conscious like a corporate feathered vulture. Sunday's television schedule does little to distract you from the thoughts of a job that you once donned your finest suit to secure, and here, in a moment of depressing clarity is the realisation that, "this is your life." Instead of a red book filled with your greatest feats and wittiest one-liners, the best that you can achieve is two pages of Arial 11 point detailing your employment history and one or two hobbies that you added in a desperate attempt to make it sound as though you were a true team player and not the mis-anthropic, work-hating malcontent that you actually are.

If this sounds familiar then fear not, you are not alone. The Daily Grindstone is here to help you through the perils of employment and give weight to your long held belief that, despite the hype, work just isn't that great. So... make another cup of tea (remember that a full kettle takes longer to boil and can add minutes to your break), get comfortable, and prepare to adjust the scales of the work-life balance a little more in your favour.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Faking it

Ever looked at you tired and drawn face in the mirror and wondered what it is that your significant other sees? Your sparkling wit has turned flatter like a week old bottle of lemonade and the torso that would once have looked at home on a Norse god would now look more comfortable hanging off the frame of an aging darts player. In spite of this, using words borrowed from Shania Twain, your partner assures you that you are, "still the one."

If you are at all familiar with the above scenario then you may have experienced a similar phenomenon with your career. The dashing young buck who breezed through the interview on a cloud of empty promises is now a palsied wreck struggling to disguise their innate incompetence. Each time the yearly review comes around, you are certain that your boss will tear away your mask to reveal the charlatan hiding beneath. Amazingly, they remains oblivious to your dirty truth and the P45 that hangs over your head like a sword of Damocles, remains firmly rooted to its tether. Whilst your partner may be able to overlook your flaws, how can your employer continue to ignore your obvious shortcomings?

The startling diagnosis is that, contrary to your employer being blind to your deficiency, you are in fact experiencing the symptoms of "imposterism." Discovered in 1978 by psychologists from Georgia State University, a person afflicted with imposter syndrome will harbour a secret sense that they are less capable than their peers or are less deserving of their career success. You should take comfort in the knowledge that these feelings are most common in intellectual or high achieving individuals, and many famous faces have gone through their careers plagued by a fear of being found out.

So what does this mean for you? People with imposter syndrome are reluctant to acknowledge their role in the success they have achieved and so label their achievements as luck, coincidence, or, "being bloody good at winging it!" When applied to a career, like an abused spouse, their is a perverse tendency to feel gratitude towards your employer. When saddled with unrealistic demands, rather than telling your boss to go and find another fool, you nervously oblige like a domesticated donkey.

Diagnosing yourself with imposter syndrome will release you from this prison of self doubt. The ease with which you fulfil your contractual responsibilities is not the product of doing a substandard job but is instead the result of an intellect underwhelmed by the necessities of your career. Should your boss remove the iron mask that you donned to enter the corporate world, let them see the handsome king and not the cowardly counterfeit.

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