Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Do you feel like an imposter? Not the Scooby Doo bad guy kind, but rather like you’re going to be exposed for your lack of skills or competence.

If you’ve ever doubted your own programming ability or performance at work, you are not alone. According to a recent survey conducted by Blind, as many as 58 per cent of tech workers feel like impostors.

Imposter syndrome can hamper your confidence, productivity, and career growth. But if you tackle it well, you can overcome your self-doubt and even turn it into a growth experience.

In this article, we’ll explore imposter syndrome in the tech community. Some of our Entelectuals weigh in on how they’ve worked through their own feelings of imposter syndrome and the techniques they’ve used to overcome it or, at the very least, move through it.


1 | Be Open with Your Managers and Ask for Help

Don’t go it alone. Check in with a colleague, and your managers and you'll soon realise that you’re not alone. Discussing these sorts of fears and anxieties with others will likely result in the lifting of what can feel like a heavy burden, and they’ll also provide the reassurance you need. Senior Software Engineer, Andreas, explains.

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‘I recently switched teams. This meant a completely new tech stack and a different culture. At that stage, I wasn’t a team lead, and I went down the rabbit hole of imagined expectations I didn’t think I could meet.

In a panic, I had a chat with my previous team lead and my development manager, and they reassured me that they wouldn’t have placed me in a leadership position if they didn’t believe in me. In their words, “Our expectation of how you should behave didn't suddenly change. We put you in that team precisely because of who you are; because that is the person that the team needs."

That talk really helped bring things back into perspective and instill confidence in my abilities. It reminded me that I need to be aware of when I am currently experiencing Impostor Syndrome, and then think about whether the expectations that are causing it are expectations that came from the people around me or expectations that I created by myself.’

2 | Get Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

You don’t know everything – and no one does. When you’re thrust into growth situations, don’t get stuck in feelings of inadequacy just because you don’t know everything right away. Growth will happen as long as you’re taking steps to make it so.

Fellow Senior Engineer, JP, emphasises the importance of slowing down and taking growth one step at a time.

‘I always wanted to become a senior dev. They seemed like they knew everything, were able to solve any problem and get work done quickly. When I finally became one, I felt more out of my depth than ever. I was responsible for other team members' growth, I didn’t always have the answers and with mentoring, work piled up. The title really got to me.

However, I took a step back. Surely if even more senior and experienced people, with high expectations, thought I was ready, then maybe I was. I grew my confidence slowly by focusing on the things I could control. I had experience with the issues newer team members haven’t faced. I could give advice.

Sometimes you get in your own way. Slow down, believe in yourself again, and gain momentum. Focus on what you can control. You don’t need to know everything but trust that you know enough to be where you are.’

3 | Ask Questions

The smartest people in the room are the ones who ask questions. Putting up a hand and asking for clarity is a sign of interest, not weakness, so raise the flag when things aren’t clear. Vishen, Team Lead at Entelect adds his thoughts.

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‘Don't be afraid to be the dumbest person in the room - what you'll often find is you're not the only one with the same question or gap in understanding.’

4 | Your Superpower is You

When you’re in the throes of self-doubt, look at the evidence of your own success and don’t compare yourself to others. It helps to keep a ‘praise folder’ of your achievements and positive feedback you’ve received over time. When you’re feeling low, look back and realise that you wouldn’t have made it this far if you weren’t capable. Our CEO, Shashi, adds his sage wisdom on not comparing yourself.

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‘Don't compare yourself against the best, but always learn from the best. Everyone whom you compare yourself against has a competitive advantage of being themselves. Be you.’