ow many times do you find yourself paralyzed with fear at the thought of raising your voice and speaking your opinions out loud, whether at a conference, in a business meeting, or even just from your cubicle chair? Do you cringe at the idea of asking for help when you get stuck on a challenging problem? Many of us do, and it can be crippling. Imposter syndrome is alive and well in IT, and the fear and self-doubt that we all experience can be a major blocker to progress and success. Not just in our personal lives, but on our software teams, and ultimately in our careers. As a fellow “imposter”, I’d like to share some of my own adventures in embracing my fears, learning to ask for help, and the sometimes unexpected and very positive outcomes that followed.
Polaris Solutions ALM Practice Mgr since Jan ‘12
Been in the software industry since 1999
Runs the Chicago ALM User Group
ALM MVP, PSM, PSD
Has a *possibly* unhealthy love of Halloween
Shameless self promotion
Polaris Solutions- http://www.polarissolutions.com/
Chicago Visual Studio ALM User Group - http://www.chicagoalmug.org/
Twitter: @OakParkGirl, @ChicagoALM, @TeamPolaris
Blog - http://www.tfswhisperer.com/
Angela is not a trained psychologist
Angela most definitely suffers from imposter
Also, there is a non-zero chance that I am
terrified that you all think I am full of crap!
Impostor syndrome is a psychological phenomenon in which
people are unable to 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
Notably, impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-
The Imposter Test: http://paulineroseclance.com/pdf/IPscoringtest.pdf
“When people praise me for something I’ve accomplished,
I’m afraid I won’t be able to live up to their expectations of me in
“I’m afraid people important to me may find out that I’m not as
capable as they think I am”
“I rarely do a project or task as well as I’d like to do it”
“I often compare my ability to those around me and think they
may be more intelligent than I am”
Researchers believe that up to 70% of people have
felt the effects of impostor syndrome at some point
If the total score is 40 or less, the respondent has few Impostor
If the score is between 41 and 60, the respondent has moderate
A score between 61 and 80 means the respondent frequently has
A score higher than 80 means the respondent often has intense
Being an “expert” is overrated
An expert is just someone who has effed up
something more than you
Being a beginner is pretty amazing!
Most “experts” had no freaking clue what they
were doing, at first…
Until they DID
Fear is an emotion induced by a threat perceived by living
entities, which causes a change in brain and organ function and
ultimately a change in behavior, such as running away, hiding or
freezing from traumatic events.
But what are we all so afraid of?
Not having ALL of the answers?
Not being “perfect”?
Recognize how you’re feeling
Go ahead and feel it
And stop beating yourself up about it
It encourages us to push ourselves (and others) to
It fosters innovation
It teaches us humility
In Judaism humility is an appreciation of oneself, one's
talents, skills, and virtues. It is not meekness or self-
deprecating thought, but the effacing of oneself to
Humility is not to think lowly of oneself, but to appreciate
the self one has received.
~ Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Admitting you don’t know the answer to something
lends you instant credibility.
I’m serious, try it…
Find something you’re really good at and then
be the best you can be at that thing
Then find something you’re really good at,
that someone else wants to learn, then teach