Devopsdays 2019: Come listen to me, I’m a fraud! (=imposter syndrome) - Joep Piscaer

Tags: devopsdays

A story on success and imposter syndrome.

He’s working for 15 years now and he still does’t know what he’s doing :-) He started his career by following some 30 courses. His boss aksed him to give a talk about doing those courses, which was well-received.

He stumbled along in his career in that way. He became CTO of a company and had to give a talk on the company’s technical strategy for the next five years. He only worked there for a few weeks…. It went OK.

Almost everybody feels like an imposter sometimes. And the imposter syndrome doesn’t go away with more success, either. He used Mike Cannon-Brookes as an example, who started Atlassian. Oh, Mike is also said to be a world expert on solar energy. The reason? He send a tweet to Elon Musk and got him to do something… That was all…

“Pluralistic ignorance”. Doubting yourself. But everyone doubts. But nobody says it…

He mentioned the Dunning-Kruger-effect. Here is a useful picture. A graph that maps wisdom (knowledge+experience) to confidence.

You might have an “I am crap” filter through which you filter all external inputs, even the positive ones. Basically you’re programming yourself to be negative about yourself (“NLP”, neuro-lingual programming)

  • Saying to yourself, over and over, two things that are positive about your. Especially when you start doubting yourself. Do it in front of the mirror if necessary. This way you can re-program your faulty NLP programming.

  • Don’t compare yourself to others. Especially not to stranges on the internet.

  • Compliments. Giving a compliment is hard. Receiving a compliment is even harder. Train it. Keep track of the compliments you receive.

Tip: watch the TED talk about the procrastinator’s brain. You can blame the “instant gratification monkey” in your brain instead of the “rational decisionmaker” in your brain.

Learn how others make their sausage. And let others learn from you. That gives you a good perspective on how good or bad others and yourself are. Some things you can do:

  • Pair programming. How often have you REALLY worked with someone on a deep level?

  • Pair review (not: peer review, pair review is better!)

  • Celebrate your failure.

  • Speak publicly.

If you have imposter syndrome:

  • Participate in conversations at social events. Don’t leave right after the conference because you are afraid of

  • Do public speaking. Start small.

  • Have an opinion.

  • Talk about non-work-related stuff. About your hobby. So: have a hobby. Make mistakes in your hobby. Own your mistakes. It is not your work, so it is totally fine to break something or to burn your food or to make a mistake. And it is great to talk about at social events!

    A hobby: something you can f*ck up without consequences.

How to identify your limiting beliefs: for that he has another TED talk tip. vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage. logo

About me

My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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