I can remember the first time I was told that “everybody is blagging it” – it was about five years ago over drinks, in a pretty little pub conservatory in a leafy part of London, and it came from someone working at a senior level.
I was immediately affronted by it. At that point, I was a bright-eyed perfectionist; the whole concept of blagging something was totally lost on me. It would be like cheating.
Gaps in my knowledge or experience weren’t things I could ignore – they either became a priority to fix or an niggling insecurity to worry about. Now that I look back, it would have been much, much easier to be of the nature where you could shrug and say, “well, everyone’s blagging it.”
Imposter Syndrome is something which comes up a lot when we talk about ambition and success. Forbes actually calls it “the domain of the high-achiever” – the fear of being inadequate, despite evidence to the contrary.
It’s definitely familiar to me. I became head of a video department way before I knew what to do with a camera, and for the longest time that made me feel like a fraud. I may not have been “blagging it”, but I was constantly second-guessing it, and that can slowly chip away at your self-belief in the same way.
The good thing is that it taught me to ask for help. To unpick something I couldn’t get my head around and to put it back together in a way that would click. And, most importantly, to look for that evidence to the contrary. The fact was that, at that point, it wasn’t actually my job to shoot – so by concentrating on this one weakness I was overlooking my strengths and the reasons that I was in that role regardless.
I talk about it openly because people often judge my progress just by my LinkedIn profile or my Instagram feed. I do that all the time too but we should know by now, especially as the guinea pigs of social media, that comparison is the thief of joy and there is often more to the story than we see on the highlights reel. The people we look up to aren’t simply successful or brilliant or lucky or hardworking, they often share the same, human worries as us too. If they can use it to their advantage then we can learn from that.
So don’t sell yourself short. Notice your strengths as much as your room-for-improvements. Think twice before you idolise blaggers, because what are you really going to learn from them? Take pride in knowing your stuff, but understand that rookie errors still happen sometimes. So ask people who know. Accept help. And appreciate how far you’ve come, even if you – classic, still-a-little-perfectionist you – feel you’ve further to go.