If you’re been in the tech industry as long as I have, you’re probably familiar with the term impostor syndromeâ€Š–â€Ša behavior that, not surprisingly, is often experienced by women and minorities in tech.
By definition, impostor syndrome is ..
a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud” …. 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 to be
The issue here is in perception of self. And this nagging fear that one is not good enough, smart enough or competent enough, to belong in the role or position you are inâ€Š–â€Šwhether that is as a developer, public speaker, manager or advisor.
None of us are immune to it. And while recent coverage of this issue has resulted in a spate of self-improvement articles like this one from Fast Company (The five types of impostor syndrome .. and how to beat them) the reality is that at its core, it’s about overcoming your fear of being judged by othersâ€Š–â€Šand being confident enough about yourself to be vulnerable and open about what you don’t know.
And with every passing day, as I read more narratives and stories about the bias and challenges faced in trying to grow diversity & inclusion tech, I am reminded again how important it is to not succumb to this fear of not being good enough to belong in tech.
That is unmitigated bull. Nobody has the right to tell you that you don’t belong in tech. We are all minorities somewhere. And if someone brings passion, perseverance and a good work ethic to any industryâ€Š–â€Š recognize and amplify them instead of feeling insecure or actively undermining that effort. A rising tide lifts all boats.
And when I feel myself giving in to any kind of doubts, I take a minute to look at this picture and remind myselfâ€Š– â€Šbehind every so-called “expert” lies a string of failures that paved the way to get to that point where they can make success looks easy.
It is the failures and the subsequent persistence to keep going that makes them expertsâ€Š–â€Šnot that final result. And so, my hope is that in everything I doâ€Š–â€Šwhether it is in building products or communitiesâ€Š–â€ŠI willingly embrace the failures as a vital part of getting to expertise. It is not easy, but I plan to try.
And so, this begins my #30Days challenge to be a fearless coder. If you want to learn about the 30 days challenge check out the TED talk from Matt Cutts!
For the next 30 days I am going to dive into learning a few new technologies or concepts that I have always wanted to explore more but didn’t feel I had sufficient expertise to talk about. This ranges from conversational UI/UX and machine learning, to embedded systems and IoTâ€Š–â€Štopics that I have explored as a hobbyist but that I hope to use in building real-world products.
My goal is to write something every day for 30 days, sharing what I did or learntâ€Š–â€Ševen if it is just something fairly trivial. And I hope that each post will showcase what I feel are the three key behaviors of fearless coding
- Curiosity: Expertise in any realm often begins with a simple question of “why” or “how”, which leads to exploration, which unveils challenges, which then hopefully leads to innovation and experience. I genuinely believe that as long as we feed our curiosity, we will often find that our minds don’t have much idle room left in them for hate or negativity.
- Persistence: Expertise comes from practice. Lots of it. We all lead fast-paced multi-tasking lives and many times it feels like there isn’t sufficient time to dedicate to the kind of practice that builds perfection. And my goal is to try to do something each day to keep myself focused. Chances are there will be lapsesâ€Š–â€ŠI have a lot on my plate. So I am arming myself with lots of forgiveness and reminding myself to just have fun with it.
- Vulnerability . Perhaps the most important one of all. I am going to make a point of sharing my mistakesâ€Š–â€Šin other words, I want to share the piles of broken plates even as I try to get to that point where I make juggling look effortless. In particular, I am going to assume that the only reader of this “journal” is me. And in that context, I want to document it in a way that I recall honestly, and that I can revisit later, to improve on that understanding with advanced insights ..
And so we begin …
Dear Future Me …> what have you committed yourself to? If you come revisit this later, I hope you feel proud that you took this step! Onwards!