For some reason I had the impression that, when I was at Durham, everyone in my management team was bigger than me. There was an element of truth in that as I am not exactly amongst the biggest of people. I believe however that I am of average stature. Looking back there were two tall people and two around about the same height as me.
For some reason though I feel that I have always been surrounded by tall people yet that cannot be. That isn’t what being average means. It is more likely to be a matter of my perception.
Like a lot of people I talk to I have long suffered from imposter syndrome, in which high-achieving individuals (not my words) are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and suffer from a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud. I have sat in many a meeting thinking that someone is going to stop the proceedings and demand an explanation of the reason why I think I should be there. Even after twenty years in a very senior position within several organizations, I still suffer.
My perception of height is an extension of these feelings. I am now convinced that I see others as bigger than they are as a subconscious way of playing down my significance. It is as if I make myself smaller then I won’t be noticed.
I was describing these feelings to my good friend Justin who is taller than me. HIs impression was the opposite. He did not see me as a smaller person but more of someone of a similar stature. He told me he had never thought about my height. Perhaps my contribution has made me bigger in his eyes.
Being human is a complicated thing. Perception is much more important than reality.
At times I project a larger person than I really am.