Leadership and The Third Imposter Syndrome


The magnificent draw by the Lions’ in New Zealand earlier this month, is followed by widespread outbreaks of The Third Imposter Syndrome

The spectacular rugby series in New Zealand ended in a hard-fought 15-15 draw. The result was in doubt to the last minute. The teams had each won one of the othr two games for the series.


A feeling of flatness followed

Most commentators have shown the signs of being in the first stage of mourning, expressing a feeling of flatness and being unable to experience emotions. One sports psychologist suggested that biologically we are hard-wired to compete and strive for victory, and equally fight to avoid defeat. (Flight or flight drives). We are not able to deal with the experience an unresolved conflict or draw. I’m not sure of this, but it is an entertaining idea. It also brings to mind Kipling’s ‘Two Imposters‘ of Triumph and Disaster.


Minutes after the game, Lions’ captain Sam Warburton spoke articulately about it, adding that he felt ready for extra time. That was a natural first response. It might be added, in context, the draw was secured by Warburton, after some special pleading with the referee to reverse a penalty as the final whistle approached.

The third imposter

Dealing with grief is natural, and only later are there other reactions as feelings of numbness and denial diminish. If this first reaction persists, we will fail to celebrate the magnificent rear-guard action fought by the Lions last weekend.

We have not overcome those two impostors triumph and disaster, but been become gripped by that third imposter, frustrated ambition.

Have we forgotten the way we celebrate other great sporting ‘draws’ in Cricket test matches against Australia, and last-minute victories denied stronger opposition in football? And even more spectacularly, how we continue to cherish acts of spectacular courage such as The Great Escape and Dunkirk?

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