I was an imposter for 25 years
First, my bona-fides:
I learned to code when I was 13, became an independent programmer/consultant at 19. Started a consulting company in 1996, I've been a software exec since I was 28, been in several startups, 2 public companies, 6 successful company sales, conceived of award winning products, demonstrated innovation/delivery, cultural leadership -- my strongest reference is from a former Apple C-suite exec who worked directly for Steve Jobs (and was CEO of four companies)
I want you to pay attention to my next sentence.
I thought that no one would hire me or it would take a long time to find a job.
In my professional career, I have never just applied for a job--its been through people I know. Who would hire me? I didn't keep up with my network. I suck at maintaining relationships--great at starting them. So I didn't have the right connections (or so I thought). Oh my expertise is in old tech, so I'm not hirable. I haven't written any blogs, etc. -- so why would people hire me.
I mean seriously.
I seriously thought I could not get hired as a CTO.
A job I've been doing for decades.
My wife has always said that I didn't know my worth. She said I should write and speak. She fell in love with me watching me speak (At Gartner events...I was the company spokesperson, she ran Analyst Relations....the rest is history)
My former boss, who worked at Apple, Oracle, Tandem told me I was the smartest person he had ever met. That is some strong language and I can't accept his full pronouncement, I have recently begun believing he was more right than wrong. I don't say that out of a desire to boast -- but to put a stark exclamation point on the depth of my syndrome.
Even with my current company, TechCXO, I thought that the other CTOs were better than me. I operated with a mindset of fear and I clung to consulting jobs that gave me safety--even to my own detriment. (80+ hours a week coding during the height of the pandemic)
All this ended roughly 60 days ago. And I realized my capacity and capability. 2022 is when I finally broke the shackles of doubt and fear that stemmed from childhood trauma. I will write about what brought me to epiphanyland in other posts.
So my imposter syndrome vanished.
I now have confidence in what I do and what I am capable of.
I reduced the skills/capabilities on my resume to ones that I actually enjoy doing--and ones I excel at. And will I can code Node/React/Python/SQL and I can build ansible scripts, that is a waste of what I can do. First, someone else will do a much better job than me, period. Second, I don't want long term management roles--period. I suck at maintenance--of anything.
And I have no more fear. No nagging self-doubts (most of the time). No feeling that you Don't belong in the club
Here's what I'm damn good at. And have the receipts to back it up:
I am a creator. A communicator. I write and I speak. I fix things--products, strategies, teams, drywall. I shape, morph, and guide them. I am a translator. I am talker. I am a transformer. I turn things around. I am a teacher; evangelist if you will. I can communicate with any stakeholder/audience. And translate between them. But I can't do that if I don't believe in what I'm doing and the mission. And I can't do it for unethical leaders either. (Luckily those have been few and far between.) And now, I can add poetry, singing, dancing, writing, and acting to that mix.)
What I want you to realize is that if you feel like an imposter, it means you are most likely successful. You are better than you know. The negative voices in your head originate from things like parental apathy, being put down by those who were tasked with raising you up, that instructor at school that said you should change majors, your first boss who cut you down in front of everyone, etc.
PG-13 movies get one of these so here I go... f*ck them.
You are successful because you have put in the work. You have shown results. And the things you are good it that got you to where you are -- well don't beat yourself up if those are stale. That is why you hire people who are current. You need fly at a higher altitude; and then shape, morph, and guide them.
If you suffer from chronic imposter syndrome, or you've overcome it, drop me a DM and tell me your story. And if you are ready, share your story of your imposter syndrome.
And thank all of your who have reached out to me recently as I've been sharing myself here, on Instagram, and my site, LinkedIn. You've helped me be confident enough to share some deep things about me here.