Managing Imposter Syndrome


What is impostor syndrome? How do you push through impostor syndrome? Continuous personal improvement is something we all have to manage effectively. I’ll have some lessons learned from my DevOps journey along the way too.


What is Imposter Syndrome?


Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. -Wikipedia


  1. You are high-achieving
  2. You have an issue realizing what you are doing is good
  3. This causes anxiety and that’s bad

Struggles with Rejection

  1. Rejection! Failure! Acceptance! We all struggle these with these things. Being mindful is a way to cope with it.
  2. Surprise! Everyone in this room right now put their pants on the same way this morning.
  3. Take interviews: Think of the next job you might want and passively interview for it. You’ll get rejected but you’ll learn where you’re lacking and you can optimize for it.

A Mentor in an Unlikely Place

  1. I bet everyone in this room has a mentor or sponsor in their life. A lot of you probably don’t even realize it. You don’t walk up to someone one day and say, “Hey! You’re my mentor.”
  2. Everyone take a few seconds now to think about who you look up to in your life, career, or whatever. These could literally be Twitter friends or IRL friends. If you’d like more engagement from them then you need to engage with them too.
  3. One of my first mentors out of the Air Force was a cantankerous, old school SysAdmin with a reputation that was well earned but easily overcome by being vulnerable. We had similar struggles and encouraged each other to raise the bar.

Overdoing It

  1. Say yes more: 2017 was my year of yes.
  2. You have limits. Explore them. Learn to compartmentalize. Shelf projects, pick them up later.
  3. “I’ll show them” motivation has to change to “I’ll show myself”
  4. Burnout is real. Be good about detecting when you know you have too much on your plate.


  1. Always ask why/how? Never settle for just going through the motions.
  2. Do the hard things. Never allow yourself to rest on your laurels (“Brad example”).
  3. If something is broken, weird, poorly documented, etc. figure it out and make it better.
  4. Update your resume/LinkedIn/etc. every 2-6 months. Quantify your accomplishments, document them, you are doing great things.


I know a lot of people have a significant amount of anxiety about SOMETHING in our various fields. For example, Jessie Frazelle and I have talked briefly and even she has issues around trying to prove something and she is amazingly smart.

See also