Foo Camp: Impostor Syndrome

Foo Camp 2014 is an unconference hosted by O’Reilly Media where sessions such as “Impostor Syndrome” are suggested and scheduled by the attendees themselves.


  • Impostor syndrome is dragging us down.
    • It can also drag others down when our work impacts other people.
  • An expert is someone that can optimize that she knows quite a bit, but not someone who knows everything.
    • Be at least one step ahead (esp. if you have kids); you don’t have to know everything.
  • Symptoms of imposter syndrome:
    • You are the only one in the group that doesn’t know what’s going on.
    • And you will be found out is one of your worst fears.
    • Struggle with trying to find out what their strengths are.
    • Give more weight to negative comments, people than more weight, control than positive ones
  • If you are bad ass, you cannot experience imposter syndrome.
  • When we talk to others to find out the value of our work, we are dis-empowering ourselves.
    • Questions of worth should be self-realized, understood internally:
      • “What is good enough?”
      • “What is my best work?”
  • Impostor critic:
    • Inner critic reinforces impostor syndrome.
    • You have a inner critic, if you are hearing youeslf say a lot of “I should”.
    • Give your inner critic a name, like “F@!& -o”.
    • Change the voice of your inner critic or negative comments to that of a cartoon character.
  • Perfectionism is stifling the release of code, projects.
    • Perfectionists procrastinate.
    • Often times there’s a feeling of not knowing what to do or how to do it
    • Then there is stuff you don’t want to do–not realizing how it’s helpful.
    • To cope with perfectionism:
      • Break projects into smaller steps
      • Outsource to freelancers, when possible
    • Ways to change a mental view of perfectionism:
      • Embrace mantras:
        • “Done is beautiful.”
        • “Done is enough.”
        • “Real artists ship.”
      • Deliberately make something bad.
        • Make bad sentence; make series of bad sentences; make bad paragraphs.
  • Satisifcing = Satisfying, suffice
    • Realize there’s a difference between “excellence” and “perfectionist”.
    • A satisfactory solution is better or chosen over an optimal choice.
    • 80% completion of a project is better than 100%.
      • Realize that going from 81–100% can take a lifetime.
      • The last 3% is Olympic level of perfectionism
    • In the digital age, adding corrections or updates to software is easier than creating fixing.
    • Iterating is embraced on web projects often better to revise/update than redesign.
  • It’s hard to embrace achieving or accomplishing for people with impostor syndrome.
    • When something amazing happens to you because of your own effort, embrace it.
    • Understand that you worked hard for this.
    • Realize that “This is mine because it’s supposed to be mine” and say, “thank you.”
  • Recommended reading:

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