The one lesson I’ve learned from life: Presenter John Stapleton says don’t let impostor syndrome win

John Stapleton, 74, is best known for presenting breakfast television for TV-am, GMTV and Daybreak. He was married to Scottish TV presenter Lynn Faulds Wood for 43 years. She died, aged 72, after a stroke in April. 

DON’T LET IMPOSTOR SYNDROME WIN

I was lucky enough to survive in television for 45 years, but I went through my entire career thinking they’d find me out one day. I left school when I was 17 and started working at a local newspaper in North-West England before I moved on to Fleet Street.

I lived a life of almost perpetual anxiety when it came to my career, and it’s one of the reasons why I stopped.

John Stapleton, 74, (pictured) is best known for presenting breakfast television for TV-am, GMTV and Daybreak

John Stapleton, 74, (pictured) is best known for presenting breakfast television for TV-am, GMTV and Daybreak

John Stapleton, 74, (pictured) is best known for presenting breakfast television for TV-am, GMTV and Daybreak

A lot of it stemmed from being a working-class lad from the North of England who didn’t go to university and was surrounded by extremely clever people — particularly in television. You could say Impostor Syndrome is a good name for it in a way, and I prepared for things studiously to try to compensate.

I had raw ambition early on in my career, but once I entered my 50s I became less driven. My wife Lynn was terribly supportive and she would tell me, ‘Come on — you’ve done this, you’ve done that — you can go for it!’, but I was riddled with self-doubt.

Lynn had APS [antiphospholipid syndrome, an immune-system disorder] for four years and we knew there was a possibility it could cause her death. But she’d managed it so well, we just didn’t think it would happen. I remember standing outside the hospital in glorious April sunshine just after she’d died earlier this year and it all seeming surreal.

Lynn used to say I regarded work as being more important than our relationship, and that wasn’t true, but I can understand why she said it. If I could achieve half as much as she did in my life, I’d be satisfied.

Once I established myself and achieved the things I’d set out to do, I became more relaxed and confident in myself, but that shred of doubt was permanently rooted in the back of my mind.

On the other hand, I do feel a bit of anxiety is good, because if you’re over-confident that will show as well. 

Lost For Words — A Royal London free exhibition in collaboration with Rankin — launched on November 16 lostforwords.royallondon.com. 

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