Posted on September 19, 2022  
by Noel Guilford

The headline in the Dawn newspaper – the English speaking Newspaper in Pakistan – on 22 September 1991 read ‘Insolvency expert arrives to save bank depositors’. That was me and I’d arrived in the country for the first time just 24 hours earlier.

That afternoon I had an appointment with the Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, whose office had leaked my arrival to the Press. As the representative of the Liquidator of BCCI my job was to determine the financial position of the BCCI branches in Pakistan and come up with a solution to its insolvency for the benefit of its shareholders and depositors.

But I was suffering from a severe case of imposter syndrome.

I am not, and wasn’t then, an insolvency specialist and I had never audited a bank in my life.

The story of the 4½ years that ensued before the – fortunately successful – conclusion of the saga that begun that day is for another time: this blog is about what I learned that day, which is that imposter syndrome is seen as a bad thing. It’s not.

If you’ve not felt like an imposter you’re not growing in life. When I was given the job in Pakistan some of my colleagues advised me not to take it. As I walked into the Governor’s office in the grand surroundings of the State Bank of Pakistan, I wondered whether I should have listened to them.

But then I remembered that choosing a job where you feel like an imposter is a sign of growth. You’ll figure it out – you always do.

Which is exactly what happened next. After a brief discussion in which I asked the Governor what he would do if he were me, we drafted a joint statement saying that I had two weeks to carry out an investigation into the branches finances and present my findings.

You’ll figure it out – you always do.

I have learnt that underperformance comes from a lack of growth and an unwillingness to step outside your comfort zone. And imposter syndrome is the #1 sign you must look for.

Your family and friends may think you’re weird and roll their eyes at your latest project. Let them.

You know you’ll figure it out – you always do.

PS If you are wondering why I agreed two only weeks to carry out an investigation into the branches finances and present my findings. – which would have been a ridiculously short amount of time – it was because I realised the State Bank already knew exactly what its financial position looked like. I was just on test.

PPS If you suffer from imposter syndrome and need help stepping outside your comfort zone book a free call with me and I’ll help you figure it out.

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Noel Guilford


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