How Do You Deal With Imposter Syndrome?


I think it’s important to realize that you were not hired with the expectation of you being the best at what you do.

Companies have one simple requirement, get the job done. Excelling at what you do is definitely important and is the basis for career growth, but is not necessarily a requirement for job security.

I once asked the father of one of my friends for career advice. He himself is an established leader and a very successful CEO. His answer to me was simple: try to finish all of your work everyday. As simple as that sounds, as difficult as it is, and as humbling as it may be that the basic requirement is getting the task done at a “satisfactory” level of quality.

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Thank you for that advice I really appreciate it!

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I think that’s totally normal. It’s Resistance screwing with you. Building one’s self esteem is not a one-time thing, but a daily endeavor. Lack of it is reason for not charging higher fees to clients, scope seep, scope creep, etc. I am reminded of this quote that it’s the stupid people in the world full of confidence, while the smart and insecure ones are full of doubts. The truth is no one will explicitly give you permission to feel okay about yourself, but it’s one we need to give ourselves. Acknowledge it and move on. Then, focus on giving value. That’s it.


I’ve heard the US army or navy especially looks for people who have failed in their lives over and over again and are actively recruiting these people.


“You are a miserable failure…now let’s talk about your service in a ballistic missile submarine.”

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That sounds like an urban legend from a very strange town. It is also, in my opinion, very disrespectful of individuals who willingly give far more in their service than they receive.


Try remembering the things you do well which are massively part of why you get jobs or contracts. Employers would far rather have a communicative, approachable person who listens - hand may have to brush up on some technical skills or even learn them - than a fully skilled up person who is hard to work with.

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How to deal with imposter syndrome? Don’t be an imposter. Be the real deal… explore, learn, and build skills.


Respectfully, that’s like telling someone who is depressed to cheer up.
If the solutions were that easy, people would certainly do them.


@JohnAtl, You believe that my take is harsh. I understand…



I kind of agree with RichardC. If you feel bad about one particular area, spending some time exploring it will help you understand what you know, what others know, what’s valued, etc. Knowledge of what other ordinary people are doing helps you to value your own knowledge and skills and see that no one is perfect. I don’t think imposter syndrome is anything like clinical depression, though I have seen the two co-exist in others.


A fictional story inspired by a dream that neuroscientist Randy McIntosh had one night, in which he had to go back to high school to complete some unfinished work.


I have a similar recurring dream, though it’s usually about university rather than high school. Michael Swaine wrote a piece in Dr. Dobb’s Journal (dating myself there) that he also has this as a recurring theme in his dreams and, upon investigation, found that it seems to be not uncommon among people working in IT, medical, scientific, and engineering related fields.

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Ah, what I call the “grad student dream” – it’s common among academic types as well as other demographics, as others have already noted.

I still sometimes experience it, decades after earning my terminal degree.

In my case, the dream always involves some Literature class that I signed up for but never attended, and I have to go to the final exam without having read any of the readings. I’m not sure why it’s always a literature class, given that I love literature. Maybe that’s why. Something I like but was not in my major field.