T-SQL Tuesday #122

I want to read your stories about when you’ve experienced, seen, or overcome imposter syndrome! Was there a job that you felt you were ill-prepared for? Did you make a mistake or did someone say something that made you question if you were a true data professional? Maybe there was a particular task you ran into that made you question your experience? Did you resolve your tasks and succeed in your job? How did you overcome that feeling of being an imposter and solve your challenges? Maybe you haven’t experienced it yourself but you saw someone who was feeling imposter syndrome, were you able to help them?

You can be technical or non-technical with this post, the goal is to share experiences to help those also experiencing imposter syndrome. Maybe you are still feeling it, sometimes walking through your challenges can help you brainstorm solutions.


Confront imposter syndrome by fostering healthy self-confidence.

In an industry with almost unending skills and information, it’s much easier to doubt your capabilities than assume your competence. I am fortunate that there are events in my past that taught me, with unusual fortitude, that my self-worth needs to be based on my self-perception much more than how I am externally perceived. Carefully monitoring and tending to my self-image doesn’t cure imposter syndrome, but it certainly helps me keep an eye out for pitfalls that sow the seeds of self-doubt and criticism. Here are 3 tips that I have for combatting or preventing imposter syndrome:

1. Avoid False Boundaries

Challenge your own assumptions about what it takes to be “qualified.” Avoid creating an invisible fence around what you can do – and more importantly, what you think you can do. The creation of false rules or boundaries around goals or accomplishments can leave you feeling hopeless or like an outsider.

2. Accept Your Imperfections

Confronting imposter syndrome involves accepting that everyone is different and trusting that others will accept you as you are. If we wait to show others who we are until we’re “perfect,” they may never get the luxury of knowing us. Be yourself and know that sometimes you’re just going to have to ship an MVP (minimum viable product).

3. Celebrate Your Successes

Sometimes our aspirations get in the way of our ability to see where we’ve come from or what we have accomplished. Don’t become blind to your own merit and allow yourself the joy of celebrating – internally or externally – the successes that you have. This is equally important for the smaller successes, so we don’t gloss over them, and for the bigger successes, so we understand that we are worthy of the accomplishment.

We’re in this together.

I’ve felt imposter syndrome more times than I can count, and as a manager, I’ve worked to buoy the self-worth of my team members. The above 3 tips not only help me, but they’ve helped my team. One final thought – on combatting imposter syndrome in a team environment or community – create a culture of appreciation.

I really enjoy having you here.

One team member to another.

That sense of belonging that comes from knowing someone else values your contributions is often surprising and I love seeing it in action because of the instant and lasting impact that it has.

Here’s a challenge for you: tomorrow, tell one of your teammates that you appreciate the work that they do.