The chameleon who refused to blend in. A story for leaders.

If you’re someone who wants to make a difference, yet is afraid to stand out, I want to share a favourite childhood story with you today. In fact, it’s the story that inspired my ideas about Chameleon Syndrome, which is a leading cause of imposter thinking and low confidence in managers and business owners today. If your management career has stalled, there’s a good chance this frustrating syndrome is impacting your thinking.

Once upon a time…

Once upon a time, there lived a small but determined chameleon who dared to dream of something greater than the mundane life she had been living. She longed to live life to the fullest and take risks, unlike all the other chameleons who simply blended in with their surroundings and never stood out.

One day, the chameleon decided to take a leap of faith and explore the world around her. She set out on an adventurous journey. Of course, she encountered many exciting sights and experiences. She came across ideas she had never been exposed to before. She visited vast forests and towering mountains, crossed streams and raging rivers, navigated through deserts and lush jungles. With every step and every experience, the chameleon learned and evolved. Each day she grew brighter, more radiant and more colourful.

But those changes  also meant she became a target for criticism and gossip.  Her family and her colleagues were taken aback by her boldness and vibrant appearance. When she zoomed into meeting, they assumed she must be up to no good, since her actions strayed so far from the norm for an upstanding chameleon. Her friends openly mocked her for being different and daring to be herself. Despite all the naysayers, the gutsy chameleon continued on her journey. She was determined to live in full colour and never  again let anyone else dictate how she lived or worked. Her battle with imposter syndrome was over!


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After many adventures – and some misadventures  – the chameleon arrived at a beautiful city on the top of a mountain. As she entered the town gates, she heard folks shouting in panic. She quickly learned that all the town’s power had been cut off. To make matters worse, a huge passenger plane was due to land any minute. But how would the pilot touch down without any lights to guide her? Lives were at stake and no-one knew what to do.

Thank goodness the chameleon had learned to stand out! She made herself shine brightly, becoming a beacon of hope. The plane landed safely due to the chameleon’s unique skill. Everyone cheered and the chameleon realised something important:  only those who dare to be different can make a real difference.

From that day on, she chose to be uniquely herself and never blend in again. And she’s not the only one who can do that:  you too can be brave and stand out. The future is bright if you choose to shine, too

This article was created by Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a leadership trainer and success coach. Her mission is inspiring talented people to become leaders who make a difference.  Since discovering her passion for training and development, Eleanor has trained more than 60,000 people. She delivers face-to-face workshops for corporates, online masterclasses for leaders and Positive Psychology retreats for trainers, HR practitioners and leaders.