Tomorrow I’m extremely fortunate to be speaking at WordCamp Cape Town. One of the points in my presentation is about fighting impostor syndrome. However, It has also come up in one of my many wonderful conversations with Chris Lema, and even came up when an up-and-coming WordPresser was talking to me at the pre-party tonight.
Impostor syndrome is defined as follows:
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.
Essentially, no matter what we do and achieve, we tend to always look ahead as if we must do more to be properly prepared to perform our craft.
It’s simply not true.
No matter what we do, it’s easy to find someone “better” or more advanced in our own realm. It’s just like when you buy a new camera. Another camera will come out next year. Or another one will do something just differently that may have advantages yours doesn’t have. There will always be a fancier camera, but that doesn’t stop your camera from capturing spectacular moments in your life.
In the consulting realm, it’s all about assessing your capabilities, and remembering that you can always help someone that doesn’t know as much as you. You can be a “configurator” of websites and provide value do someone who doesn’t know what WordPress is but wants a website. You can be a new developer and show non-developers behind you tips you’re learning as you go. You can be an experienced developer and teach new developers the things you’ve ingrained into your workflow. And it goes on.
Even the most amazing new products can be better still. There’s a reason there was more than one version of the iPhone, but that doesn’t make the first less amazing.
You don’t have to be the foremost expert in a particular realm. Yes, you should know and define your own skill set. Yes, you shouldn’t promise a client something you can’t do. But as long as you are a clear communicator and honest about what parts you’re able to help with, then you can without doubt be a valuable service provider to many others out there.
So quit struggling with impostor syndrome and be confident in your own skill set, even as you hungrily learn new things.