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The antidote to imposter syndrome

It is Friday 29th November and I am stood at the front, in one of the library rooms of the Royal College of Physicians. He is sat to my immediate left at a table on his own, with a pig’s head specimen to practice surgery.

The room is full of people who are not straight out of dental school.

There is perhaps 25 people in the room, they have come to learn about surgical technique and how to do a specific procedure that I have already lectured on in the morning.

They have all the kit and support they need and “an apparent well trained and experienced expert” at the front.

The guy to my left is in his 50s.

He is a Maxillofacial surgeon and earlier in the day, he was referenced by the main, world famous speaker of the day as someone who had trained the speaker in his early days.

He was talked about by the speaker with reverence and referred to as someone who should be respected.

He is 5ft over from me, diagonally left and I am supposed to teach him!

So, welcome to imposter syndrome.

Right there on Friday, right then, I completely understood that I knew what I didn’t know.

How do you deal with that?

He wanted to make suggestions (the guy to my left), he wanted to chat to the guys behind them and try to help them (because he didn’t need an awful lot from me).

I should be offended and I should be affronted, because I am the teacher here.

Instead I cruised around the room to make sure that everybody was ok, but always returned back to that table to see the advice that he was giving and the secrets he was passing on and the knowledge that he was imparting.

He would ask me, what did I think of this or what about this approach I probably learned more in that little session than I have learned for ages in surgery. 

He was very gracious at the end, very grateful for the opportunity to be there, he was awesome.

I spoke to someone about it afterwards and it came to me.

A part of my lecture was about being unskilled and unaware of it and the other about imposter syndrome. 

The cure for imposter syndrome is collaboration.

You can never chase away darkness with darkness.

Colin Campbell
By Colin Campbell
on 08/12/19 18:00
   

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