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The Leading Role

Stuart White

Mpho is learning to teach MBA students and despite being relatively advanced in his studies he can’t help feeling he might not make the grade as a lecturer. This feeling is strongest when he is faced with a group of students, as even though he has prepared so much for class, he feels inadequately prepared for what comes up. 

“There is simply too much to learn, know and the insurmountable literature on the subject matter is overwhelming and I can’t know and read everything” is how he describes these anxiety attacks. He worries that he isn’t as good as the other MBA lecturers.
Frederick Hives is a fourth-year PsyD candidate at John F. Kennedy University in the US. He has struggled with never feeling good enough throughout grad school, and says he often feels he’s progressed not on his own merits, but due to sympathy from others.

Hives says that as an African American student, "I was taught I would need to ‘work twice as hard to be half as good.' While this instills a goal-oriented approach within me, it also keeps me feeling as though my efforts will never be enough." Frederick, despite his achievements, feels like a fraud. Do you ever feel the same way?
Both these examples are similar to what was first described by psychologists Suzanne Imes, PhD, and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, in the 1970s as ‘Impostor phenomenon’. This occurs among high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their success. They often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud. 

Though the impostor phenomenon isn't an official diagnosis, coaches and psychologists acknowledge that it is a very real and specific form of intellectual self-doubt. Impostor feelings are generally accompanied by anxiety and, often, depression. Most victims suffer in silence, says Imes, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Georgia. "Most people don't talk about it. Part of the experience is that they're afraid they're going to be found out," she says.
When the impostor phenomenon or imposter syndrome as it is sometimes described, was first noted, they thought it was unique to women, but the disease is not sexist and according to research it affects men and they fall victim equally. No one can tell where it comes from or how it develops but some hypothesis that people who feel like impostors may have grown up in families that place a big emphasis on achievement. 

Parents who send mixed messages — alternating between over-praise and criticism and setting impossibly high standards — may be part  culprit as they can increase the risk of future fraudulent feelings where the child feels they can never possibly match up to expectations.
You don’t necessarily have imposter syndrome for life.  Sometimes it manifests itself when you find yourself in a new position or role. Let’s say you get your first Board appointment or are catapulted into a higher level of management.

This in-between or new phase of your professional development can leave you inwardly panicking that you aren’t ready to handle it or function in that capacity. Now nearly everyone will experience a certain level of self-doubt when facing something new but this is not the normal level of uncertainty and stress relating to a new situation.  Those with imposter syndrome experience an overwhelming fear of being found out to not have what it takes.
So can you spot people with impostor phenomenon? Well you may find some of the outward signs in behaviors which people exhibit. Often the syndrome goes hand in hand with obsessive levels of perfectionism. So-called impostors think every task they tackle has to be done flawlessly and they rarely ask for help.

There is also a flip side to that coin. An impostor may procrastinate, putting off an assignment out of fear of failure of completion or that they won’t be able to do it to the high standards required. When they do finally produce the goods they are left thinking that it still isn’t good enough or that performance was luck or a fluke.
At the heart of the problem are distorted notions of what it means to be competent and individuals will sometimes set this bar unrealistically high.  Consequently when they fail, they may adopt negative behaviours such as procrastination and perfectionism.

Mary says that her impostor feelings "maybe slightly held me back, particularly in terms of getting things written up and submitted. … I'm never sure whether it's good enough, so maybe I hang onto things longer than colleagues." But when asked, she concedes that she doesn't know how much time her colleagues spend on their work–an example of setting goals based on an incomplete understanding of her competition.
“Ultimately, the impostor phenomenon becomes a cycle. Afraid of being discovered as a fraud, people with impostor feelings push themselves beyond what is reasonable to do a project perfectly. When they succeed, they begin to believe all that anxiety and effort paid off. Eventually, they develop almost superstitious beliefs. "Unconsciously, they think their successes must be due to that self-torture," Imes says.
Plenty of people get their motivation by comparing themselves to peers and trying to keep up or get ahead. So how do impostor feelings differ from a natural sense of competition, insecurity, or humility? "Humility and self-esteem are certainly related to the impostor phenomenon, says Justin Kruger, a professor a NYU Sterns School of Business.  He goes on to point out that true humility relies on an accurate assessment of ability, whereas people who demonstrate the impostor phenomenon, "despite being fully competent… feel that they don't really belong."
If you relate to this article you might be feeling a huge weight of relief in that there are others out there who feel the same. Feelings of Imposter syndrome are both normal and irrational but can be treated by speaking about them either to a professional coach or counsellor and making a personal audit of your skills and abilities.

I guess as most high achievers are pretty smart people, they should be able to reframe their thinking to accept that they are where they are through merit- that far from being an imposter and a fraud they deserve the glittering prizes.  Or perhaps their great intellects will rationalise the situation and conclude that they are simply better actors than they gave themselves credit for and that those glittering prizes are really just Oscar substitutes. 

For at the end of the day what is an actor but an imposter and a fraud, playing the part of someone they are not?  And to those of you I say, if you are really that convincing, you deserve the gold statue as much as the next person because your performance is truly convincing and all around you have willingly suspended their disbelief. As Shakespeare succinctly said ‘All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players’.  But they don’t all win an Academy Award, now, do they?

STUART WHITE is the Managing Director of HRMC and they can be reached on 395 1640 or at

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”


Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”


Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.


Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)


Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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