Own The Imposter Syndrome

Howdy, this is Joe Houghes. I’d like to introduce myself some in my first real post before I try and speak about technical content. This has been a big year of change for me with regards to my career, personal life, and social presence. As such, I want to share some reflection. This relates to my own experience as someone new to sharing knowledge with others.

I’m a run of the mill 35-year-old out of shape IT geek who is a native of Austin, Texas. I am also an imposter, I face that recognition daily, and I’m completely OK with this realization. I’ve heard a lot of discussion in the last few months around “imposter syndrome”. I’ve also come to a pretty simple conclusion myself which I try to embrace: It doesn’t matter.

I am far from the most eloquent of speakers, so I will ask a few questions that explains the concept:

Does it make much difference, to anyone other than you, that you feel like an imposter?

If you feeling like an imposter makes no difference to others, then why let that concern/fear hold you back?

If you agree that it doesn’t matter to anyone but you, then don’t let that feeling hold you back.

Most people worry they will be discovered as an imposter, based on their knowledge. I understand the concerns that back some of this fear.

What if you don’t believe somebody should be listening to you as an expert over someone else? Or, you think that you aren’t as much of an expert on a particular topic as you feel that you should be. Even that you generally don’t know as much as you think you need to.

I definitely face these concerns on a regular basis. Yet, I’m far more concerned with not recognizing when I’ve reached the end of my knowledge. I am much more fearful of being overconfident about a “fact” that I’m not actually sure is correct. I’m not concerned about appearing as an imposter on a topic that I know well.

To me, imposter syndrome is a lack of confidence in yourself and your own journey and knowledge. Don’t let this cripple your success.

Too many people worry about admitting that they don’t know something. That leads to actually BEING an imposter if you present yourself as an expert when you know that you aren’t. Don’t be that person, admit when you don’t know something.

If you think about it, you should recognize that everyone starts down their own personal path one step at a time. Some people take that first step on purpose. Many stumble early and often. Other may have even taken it as a misstep from some other path they started down.

Take the time to reflect on what your individual experiences have been. What have you learned since you started?

You should have confidence in yourself and your history. It brought you to where you are in your knowledge, expertise, and journey. You now have a distinct viewpoint to share with others.

After all this rambling, the point is this. Stop letting fear keep you from sharing with others and teaching them whatever you can. Make a decision to own the imposter syndrome. Have confidence in the fact that you have a unique perspective to share with others. This is the first step to success.

Of course, this will not make it easier to juggle your personal and business obligations. It will also not allow extra hours in every day to do this. Nor will it make you an overnight social success.

However, it will get you started. Don’t hide behind an excuse that you are an imposter with nothing useful to share with anyone.

Start sharing what you know with anyone willing to listen to what you are sharing. You will be amazed at how much you help someone to understand a topic. Sometimes, it takes nothing other than your particular viewpoint and presentation. That can reveal a lesson to someone in a way that helps them to understand it.

If you are already on the path of sharing and teaching, encourage new people who are starting out. Your words and actions will have a far-reaching impact on everyone. You also help everyone affected by the person you support has helped out down the line.

So, don’t be afraid to share with others. Some of us will start out small, like me, while others have produced volumes of content in that same amount of time. In the end, as long as you share what you know and your experiences, you’re improving the community as a whole.

All of us are smarter than any one of us, so don’t hoard information. Share it early and often, and you’ll be amazed at the impact you’ll have on others.