Using Imposter Syndrome to Your Advantage

Using Imposter Syndrome to Your Advantage

Who are you to even think you can do this? You never got good grades in school. Math never held your interest. You’re faking it. This is the type of inner dialogue I go through even today, 16 years into my career. It never goes away.

And don’t you think this happens to everyone in every career. There will always be someone better than you. That’s a given. And also a reason to ignore this voice. The fact that there is always someone better than you means that you will never find the person perfect for your job. Because if there is always someone better, than there is no such thing as perfection. Only getting closer and closer to what your vision of perfection is.

The perfect person for the job is just a person who can do it maybe with a little passion but definitely with a little old, fashioned craftsmanship. In other words, taking pride in your work can go far. Caring about what you do, creating work you will be proud of, writing code like it was for a pet project or for your best friend can actually go farther than all the skills in the world.

There are plenty of skilled professionals in any industry out there that cut corners because they can. Why do your best when all you have to do is the bare minimum? And a lot do. Care goes a long way.

And everyone in every industry goes through imposter syndrome because they can’t help it. It is also a good sign. I would much rather the surgeon doing open heart surgery be doubtful enough to keep up with the latest techniques, to double check the charts before cutting me open.

But you can put imposter syndrome can to good use. It can help you double check yourself rather than doubt yourself. It will help you keep up to date in technologies rather than arrogantly thinking that you all you need to know. The most skilled people doubt themselves every day. It’s what keeps them on their toes. It’s what keeps them at the top of their game.

So the trick is not to ignore that voice that keeps telling you you aren’t good enough. The trick is to see it as your friend that pushes you to be better than you were last week. If you are always searching for better ways of doing things, you are good enough. If you work hard to do the best you can, you are good enough. If you don’t like code you’ve written and spend time researching if there is a better way to do what you are trying to do, you are good enough.

In fact, if you use this voice to push you to be better rather than quit, you might become one of the best out there. One day, you will look around and be able to pick from many lucrative jobs because of the work ethic and skills that you have instilled in your self. You will be a self-made person and that voice will just be one of the tools you used to get where you are.

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Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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