The Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome

[This is from an email I shared around some folks on the team earlier today. Once I hit send it felt like a mostly done blog post so here goes.]

I am fascinated every day by the idea of being an impostor. I feel it daily.

What many of you don’t know, I think, is that I am a crazy nervous person. I refer to myself as a ‘duck’… calm on the surface and churning away under the water.

Up until a few years ago (maybe 2007?) I held all my stress in my stomach and my neck. You would see me constantly cracking my neck and what you wouldn’t see is that before big presentations I would have to make a bee line to the bathroom to throw up before going and speaking. Even in front of people I’d known for years the nerves were pretty terrible.

When I got here I knew nothing about hosting except what I’d experienced a customer. My 2nd or 3rd week we had a Hosting all hands and I asked Jeff if I could present the strategy. His response was 1) “Oh god, would you please?!?” followed by 2) “But we don’t have one yet!” It was good to just get up there without any firm basis in anything other than myself and own it. I wasn’t technically an impostor… I knew nothing and theoretically everyone knew it. But the fear was in the back of my head, “how bad could I be and will they sense it?”

The reality matched this image I saw on David Whittaker’s twitter (@rundavidrun)

Imposter Syndrome
Imposter Syndrome

I knew some stuff and everyone around me knew other stuff. Still scary but pretty freeing. Since then it has been speaking at company all hands, CIO all hands, Quarterly Business Reviews (QBR’s), and all other manner of things that have forced me out of my comfort zone and I try and make myself to run toward these opportunities rather than shying away. I’m not perfect as everyone on this thread knows but I try and go in with the right intentions, a focus on the customer, and bring along the best allies I can muster.

And if you haven’t watched this video on the Imposter Syndrome by Chris Lema, a member of the WordPress community, you should.