Imposter or Student

If you’re moving forward in your career, you’re a bit of an imposter. Actually, according to David Perell, everyone is an impostor. Many of the very successful people in technology built things that they knew nothing about. They learned technology, business, sales, and more on their way to success.

I posted a note about the video above, and someone suggested that we are students instead. The negative connotation of an impostor, someone that deliberately fakes their knowledge is something that bothers many. I get that, and I do understand the desire to disclose what you know and what you don’t.

We need to be lifelong students in the technology business, and maybe even in many other fields. The platforms on which we work, the tools we use, they do change. More importantly, the underlying technology we use might suddenly change as our employers shift directions or management moves in a new direction.

While it’s useful to adopt the mindset of being a student, there are plenty of times when we are asked to work with something we don’t understand. Others may assume we know something and look to us to lead the way or solve problems. While we may protest or let them know that we are learning, we are still expected to produce some results.

When I coach kids, we often tell them to “fake it until they make it.” They are learning new skills and sometimes don’t do well, but it is important to project an air of confidence, to believe that you will soon learn the skill. That mental projection of your future is important, and it instills confidence. I wouldn’t underestimate the importance of believing in yourself, even when you lack some ability.

When you tackle something new, do you consider yourself an impostor or student? Either way, I hope you dive into the tasks with enthusiasm and confidence.

Steve Jones

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