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Grow your community: Inspire an Impostor


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Impostor syndrome stifles individual performance but it also has a big impact on open source communities. This talk explains how to recognize impostor syndrome and reduce its impact on software communities.

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Grow your community: Inspire an Impostor

  1. 1. Grow your community: Inspire an Impostor Major Hayden @majorhayden Photo: Emmanuel Huybrechts (Wikipedia)
  2. 2. Major Hayden Principal Architect at Rackspace ● Builds OpenStack private clouds ● OpenStack contributor since Diablo ● Fedora Linux Security Team / Server WG member ● Actually one of the few people who likes SELinux ● Owns far too many domain names ● This is the only slide I have with bullets (seriously)
  3. 3. Impostor syndrome is difficult to define Photo: Buddy_Nath
  4. 4. Impostor syndrome affects different people in different ways Photo: Negative Space
  5. 5. For a deeper dive into impostor syndrome, review my slides from a previous talk: Slides: Video:
  6. 6. Humans love stories, so let’s use one.
  7. 7. My epiphany arrived after a promotion at work
  8. 8. T-shirt-wearing, Python-wielding, GIF-sharing, Linux nerd Button-shirt-wearing, HBR*-wielding, meeting-sharing, Director & Chief Security Architect * HBR == Harvard Business Review (it’s worth reading)
  9. 9. Meeting with the boss Photo: Unsplash
  10. 10. What do you call someone with: CONFIDENCE up here COMPETENCE down here
  11. 11. “A pain in my butt*.” * His language was much more colorful than what I’ve featured here.
  12. 12. What do you call someone with: COMPETENCE up here CONFIDENCE down here
  13. 13. “THE SAME FREAKIN’* THING!” * Again, his language was much more colorful than what I’ve featured here.
  14. 14. IMPOSTOR SYNDROME is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when your competence and confidence are not aligned. It’s a form of cognitive bias.
  15. 15. COGNITIVE BIAS refers to the systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment, whereby inferences about other people and situations may be drawn in an illogical fashion. (Thanks, Wikipedia)
  16. 16. Long story short, your brain is biased. This time, it’s biased against you. Photo: sbtlneet
  17. 17. “Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself.” -- Ludwig Wittgenstein “Culture and Value” Photo: Austrian National Library
  18. 18. Being humble is something entirely different.
  19. 19. HUMBLE: “This is a great accomplishment, but I couldn’t have done it without the support of my team!”
  20. 20. IMPOSTOR SYNDROME: “I’m not worthy.”
  22. 22. Impostor syndrome drives diversity away from your community. Photo: Prinzip3d
  23. 23. Imagine a future where we stop fearing it.
  24. 24. Imagine yourself as a catalyst* for change in your community. Photo: Alejandro Hernandez * Science nerd moment: catalysts are never consumed in a reaction.
  25. 25. Starting line: Master the confidence and competence alignment spectrum* * There is no scientific or medical basis here. However, calling it a spectrum makes it sound much more trustworthy and academic.
  26. 26. Competence Confidence Dunning-Kruger effect Impostor syndrome Unsure Just right “Fake it ‘til you make it”
  27. 27. Competence Confidence Dunning-Kruger effect Impostor syndrome Unsure Just right “Fake it ‘til you make it” SAFE ZONE
  28. 28. A constant state of “just right” is UNATTAINABLE. Just focus on being in the safe zone.
  29. 29. Lucky for us, we have a framework that makes it easier to stay in the safe zone: OODA Photo: USAF
  30. 30. OBSERVE How do the people you trust react to your ideas, plans, and performance? Photo: Unsplash
  31. 31. ORIENT Is their confidence in your ability wildly different than your own? Measure the difference. Photo: MaxPixel
  32. 32. DECIDE What part of your behavior will you change? How will you make it a habit? Photo: Unsplash
  33. 33. ACT Commit to the plan. There is no turning back. Funnel the feedback into the loop. Photo: Unsplash
  34. 34. Good news. The OODA loop works great for helping others, too.
  35. 35. What does success look like?
  36. 36. We cannot eliminate impostor syndrome.
  37. 37. “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” -- Haruki Murakami Photo: Unsplash
  38. 38. Recognize it. Embrace it. Own it.
  39. 39. Only you can choose to stop the suffering.
  40. 40. REALITY CHECK: Not everyone will be thrilled about helping.
  41. 41. “I write code. I don’t have time for this.” Your code is worth nothing without the community of users and contributors. Make investments in those people.
  42. 42. “I’m not a psychologist.” Nobody is asking you to be one. Be a human. If someone looks like they are struggling, throw them a line.
  43. 43. Keep it simple. BE A HUMAN.
  44. 44. Just ONE email Just ONE IRC message Just ONE code review comment might be all that someone needs.
  45. 45. You now have the tools. Photo: picjumbo
  46. 46. TOOLBOX RECAP: Recognize the signs. Photo: picjumbo
  47. 47. TOOLBOX RECAP: Live the OODA loop. Photo: picjumbo
  48. 48. TOOLBOX RECAP: Stop the suffering. Photo: picjumbo
  49. 49. It’s time for you to build a path for yourself and for others in your community. Photo: picjumbo
  50. 50. Thank you! Major Hayden @majorhayden Photo: Emmanuel Huybrechts (Wikipedia)