Imposter! What to do when thoughts are both good and bad for you?


I’ve worked at the same organization for over 20 years and have always had a reputation for working hard / doing well. About a year ago I was approached by an executive to come work for a team that doesn’t typically take “outsiders” and pays far better than other areas of the organization. It was a great move and I earned it.

Despite having brilliant people here, the group I’m in is in a word… dysfunctional. Some of it is political and some of it is not knowing better. As an outsider, I’ve been able to bring in a new perspective and just through observations have challenged peoples thinking. The problem is – I really haven’t actually delivered anything yet. I just pontificate occasionally. I leave early most days and have lots of time to do my own personal stuff (like right now) and never work on evenings and weekends. I just don’t feel like I’m doing my best work. I’ve considered making a move to another area where its “easier” to get things done and I’d feel more satisfaction… but I don’t want to give up the flexibility I have. honestly, I ‘d have to work twice as hard to earn 1/2 as much money. Been there / done that.

Here’s the “Problem” – I’m getting lots of recognition. Like a ridiculous amount. I’ve won a trip to Scottsdale for my husband and I, had a team re-organized under me AND most recently, I won an award that is only given to 1% of employees in the organization. ITs a big deal. When people ask me how I won the award I struggle to answer. In my opinion, the reason I won is the bar here is too low (it honestly is) AND I lucked out by having exposure to more of the leadership team making the decisions. I recognize that these are just thoughts, but they align to the general observation I’ve made that expectations are just set far too low here and how we evaluate talent is an unfair process that doesn’t properly recognize people that are working hard but aren’t lucky enough to have exposure. Ironically, my observing (and voicing) these concerns is what lead to me getting the award!

I feel like an imposter. Like I’m being recognized and don’t deserve it. I look around me and can find some people working way harder and contributing more – I want to give it to them. I’m almost embarrassed when someone congratulates me. Not surprisingly, this is making me uncomfortable coming to work.

If I think about it, my thoughts are serving me in one sense because they are driving people to change and “aim higher”. At the same time though, they are leaving me feeling like I’m a total imposter – taking pride in something that I don’t feel I deserve. How can I separate them when they seem so intertwined?

Trish