I indulged myself with a movie treat this week and watched one of my all-time favourite films – The Talented Mr Ripley. If you’ve not seen it, it’s worth a watch…gorgeous and glamorous at the start, then descending into something a little darker and twisted. Matt Damon plays the Mr Ripley of the title, and the one quote that stands out is when he says he’d rather “be a fake somebody than a real nobody”, and that got me thinking – just how many “fake somebody’s” are out there…

In the movie, the deception begins with an innocent enough mistake, a white lie quickly follows which perpetuates the fraud and rapidly the situation snowballs into a ‘living lie’, and once trapped, Mr. Ripley has no choice than to spiral ever downwards. As the story becomes darker, another quote that stands out is when Tom Ripley utters the desolate line, “if I could just go back…if I could rub everything out…starting with myself.”

In HR we often hear and talk about the “Imposter Syndrome”, and whilst I’m not suggesting that people are walking around emulating Mr. Ripley’s sinister actions, the feelings can seem all too real.

‘Imposter Syndrome’ is defined as the pervasive feeling of self-doubt and insecurity, often striking smart, successful individuals. Various factors can feed the feelings, such as receiving criticism, having to ask for help and even being unfamiliar with complicated technology or jargon.

When I think back to my previous role, I can now see that the ‘Imposter Syndrome’ crept in when I had to undertake a new role following an internal restructure which saw other colleagues lose their jobs through redundancy, so the more I reflect, the more I see that it wasn’t just ‘Imposter Syndrome’ I was suffering, I had ‘Survivor’s Guilt’ too!

This double-whammy saw my confidence drop as self-doubt took over. In my case, this drove me to over-function and strive for perfection in absolutely every task I performed. This was exhausting, counter-productive and unsustainable!

In the world of The Talented Mr Ripley, he employed a rather ‘final’ approach to the obstacles in his way! As for me, well my determination could have been and undoubtedly was misinterpreted as negative behaviour, until a close colleague sat me down and made me look at what I was doing, and more importantly, what was driving me to do it.

So if any of what I’ve written about feels familiar, speak out…now! I was lucky, the fictional ‘Tom Ripley’ wasn’t so fortunate!

Sue Alty – The Creative Coordinator

Contact Sue

We think Sue must be a ‘Master of the Dark Arts’, as she has hidden depths! Running our office with meticulous planning and capability, Sue is an avid list writer with a keen eye for detail. But don’t be fooled by that organised demeanour, for Sue is as creative as she is efficient! A skilled communicator with a humorous edge, Sue is as passionate about people and their learning and development as she is about becoming the future Mrs Tom Hardy or Mrs Benedict Cumberbatch (either will do!).  An interesting career path has taken her from the glamour of working in luxury London hotels to the chilled Distribution Centres of supermarket retail, and whether managing small groups or large teams, people are at the heart of everything Sue does.