I’m not good enough to work here.

Why should they listen to me?

They are going to realize I don’t know what I’m doing.

Have you ever felt this way?  I know I have.  These are indicators of imposters syndrome.  internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.

I’ve battled with this feeling before (and I’m sure I will again).  Regardless of my accomplishments or lessons I’ve learned, I continually battle with the belief that someone is going to call me out on a stupid mistake or failure to grasp the implications of something.

That feeling really ramped up with my last couple of jobs.  At Edgenet, I took on a senior engineering role and people who had twice as much time and experience in the industry as me were counting on me for advice and assistance.  At that point, I also got involved with the Windows Server early adoption (TAP) program and had to provide quality feedback to help our implementation.  At Stack Exchange, I work with some wicked smart co-workers.  I was hired for Windows Server expertise, but my co-workers who aren’t Windows Server experts are still pretty experienced. 

OK, so I feel like a fraud sometimes, why do you care?

Despite that feeling, I continue to put myself, my thoughts and opinions, and my code out in front of people.

I’ve been asked by several people recently about how I got started in speaking to groups and why I felt I had something of value to share.  I think more of us feel the impact of imposter syndrome than not.

Another area I see this impacting is the willingness share scripts at Script Club.  There’s usually some embarrassment expressed or a number of caveats shard about the quality of the script.

Don’t sell yourself short.

If you feel this way, here are a couple of ideas to combat it (some stolen from Denise Paulucci):

  • Don’t qualify your accomplishment with self-deprecating statements.
  • Check with trusted co-workers or friends to verify your perceptions.
  • Admit when you don’t know something.  Don’t be afraid of this.
  • If you believe something, be willing to stand up for your position.

If you think you are battling imposter syndrome, but you want to start speaking (at conferences or user groups), email me (though my contact page).  I’m happy to point you in the right direction to get you speaking.