My dark secret
My name is Matt Salter, and I’m an impostor.
(Don’t say “Hi, Matt!” this time. It’s a dead giveaway.)
Thankfully for me, and anyone else fighting the constant sense that they’re faking their professional skills, public identity and general adult status, so is Oz Chen.
The tiny voice in your head that won’t shut up
I probably have a bit more “impostor” in my syndrome than Mr. Chen, a world-class coach and consultant in various business matters I couldn’t define without a dictionary. I just put words in a pretty order.
On the other hand, I’ve been putting words in a pretty order for the best part of ten years. I’ve made millions of dollars for charities as a grant writer. I’ve published poetry, and if you know anything about the poetry marketplace, you know that’s an achievement. I’ve gotten money to rewrite Shakespeare.
Really! I love the man, but he needed an editor.
But, like Mr. Chen, I still tend to start my working day with an evil little voice in my ear, whispering “you’re faking it.” As we’ve written in the past, Mr. Chen and I are in no ways alone in that respect.
Here’s something that never occurred to me to say, but did occur to Mr. Chen: good.
Impostor syndrome isn’t a bug. It’s a feature.
That soft pop you just heard was Oz Chen blowing my tiny mind.
He’s right, though. Here’s why.
It happens to everybody
Per an honest to goodness scientific study, 70% of people experience bouts of impostor syndrome at some point in their lives.
It’s particularly prominent in environments perceived as highly demanding or within a talented peer group.
According to Olive Cabana’s “Charisma Myth,” when Stanford Business School freshmen are asked “how many of you in here feel that you’re the one mistake the admissions committee made?” a solid 2/3rds put their hand up.
Debbie Millman of “Design Matters” found that of 21 great graphic designers she interviewed, all but two – Massimo Vignelli and Milton Glaser, and seriously, I’ve heard of those people and I can’t draw a curve with a protractor – said they’d experienced the fear of being “found out” as untalented or of being flash in the pan successes unable to repeat prior achievements.
So, yeah. Those people are better at what they do than you, me and any ten of our friends put together, and they still have that little jerk whispering put-downs in their ears. Literally everyone has this.
It stops you being stupid
Let us speak together of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. If you’ve been to the Internet, you know the Dunning-Kruger Effect, both in the sense that it’s a phenomenon that has been widely addressed in popular digital media, and in the sense that Dunning and Kruger are the patron saints of Internet debate.
The Dunning-Kruger Effect is simply that, when you’re ignorant of something, you’re often ignorant of the fact that you’re ignorant.
If you haven’t yet run across that phenomenon in action, (most often in the form of someone who has no idea what they’re talking about nonetheless holding forth on it, at length, shaming themselves and their ancestors) then allow me to be the first to welcome you to your first day of Internet.
It’s great! Stay out of the comment sections.
Impostor syndrome is a vaccine against Dunning-Kruger. Say what you will about that jolt of anxiety that goes with making a statement of informed opinion in a public space – I’ll start; it sucks and I hate it – but it encourages you to make sure your opinion is, in fact, informed.
Ever notice my articles have a lot of links? That’s why. I don’t just write down anything that occurs to me.
It keeps your priorities straight
I agree with Mr. Chen: impostor syndrome is a function of identity. It’s going after the ego candy of being “an executive” or “a successful person” as opposed to figuring out what you actually want to do and then actually doing it.
I am to this day genuinely embarrassed by how long it took me to acknowledge that I was “a writer” despite, you know, making my living with that skill. Years. Actual years of putting everything I have and am into writing, but I wasn’t “a writer” because, I don’t know, I don’t own a tweed jacket or something.
Quit trying to fit yourself into some pre-existing category. That is neither profitable nor healthy.
Focus on what you do. If you’re like me, you’ll be happier. If what you do isn’t what you want it to be, that’s even better.
It’s a wake up call.
If what you want isn’t in keeping with how you spend your time, you need to know about it. It’s so much easier to fix that than to live with it.
It’s 2017. Social interaction is built on compulsive self-awareness. The job market demands anyone seeking success build multiple skill sets to apply in multiple ways, as the single-focus career rapidly goes the way of dodos and Pogs.
Impostor syndrome is to be expected. The trick, as with every glitch in human firmware, is to make it work for you.
Thanks, Mr. Chen.
Our five faves for Friday – almost Thanksgiving edition
(EDITORIAL) This week, I have so many faves that I can barely keep it at just five – Unicorns, gophers, tears, science nerdery, and rebellions, oh my!
I heard a rumor that it’s Friday again, so today we share with you five of the neato-est things that we came across this week – some silly, some serious, all awesome.
1. Brands refusing to open on Thanksgiving Day
It started with retailers opening early on Black Friday, then opening at midnight on Thanksgiving Day, and now retailers are expected to force their staff to work instead of enjoy a bajillion-ish year old American tradition.
But some companies are pushing back, publicly refusing to open on Thanksgiving Day, so even though our home doesn’t care about Black Friday, we’ll be giving some business to those taking a stand.
2. I need you to know about my favorite tv show ever
So there’s nothing new about this, but since you’ve never heard from ME on a Friday Faves roundup, I really need you to know something about me – I have a lot of natural curiosities and history (when not told in a dusty way) fascinates the hell out of me.
Unearthed on the Science Channel is friggen amazing and literally EVERY episode has taught me something that I didn’t know before (like the one about Stonehenge included new discoveries that change how we think about how humans used to operate – seriously mindblowing stuff). All of the episodes are available online, yo, so get to nerding!
3. No one has bought me a Pony Cycle yet
One of the only email newsletters I actually open is The Grommet – they feature independent makers’ inventions and wares, and I’m all about supporting the little guy.
But I posted this insanely amazing Pony Cycle on my Facebook timeline this week with a request that someone buy me one. Guess what? No takers. My friends are monsters. I mean it comes in horse, unicorn (dibs), and zebra, why not buy me one or three?
4. Video that made me cry
After the recent earthquake hit Iran, there has been a deep need for food for the victims. Watch this video (my fave part is the pat pat on the back) and try to tell me that hate isn’t something we’re taught… also, I’m not crying, you are…
5. My favorite gif of this week
If you know me, you know I love gifs more than the average person. So when I came across this one, I knew I had to award it my fave of the week…
Is your job inadvertently harming your health?
(EDITORIAL) We often get so consumed with our work that we unknowingly hurt ourselves in the process. Learn how to keep this from happening.
With the changes in seasons, we tend to put more of an emphasis on our health. This makes sense as flus and colds have a tendency to run rampant around the holidays.
However, we should be more mindful of keeping track of our health throughout the year. And, given that our jobs are such a large part of our lives, it is important to keep in mind that our jobs can have an affect on our health. Which can often be a bad thing.
For most of us, we are in the same space for eight hours of our day. Sometimes we think that just because it’s ourselves occupying that space, things can’t really get germy. Well, think again.
We have so many things that we touch on a daily basis – our keyboard, mouse, phone, ID badge, etc. These have a tendency to become a house for germs, which can hurt us as time goes on.
Combat this by setting aside some time each week to disinfect all of your most-used items. Also, consider keeping some hand sanitizer at your desk.
Getting up to clean around your office can help take care of another issue – being too sedentary throughout the day. Sometimes we get so consumed with plugging away at our computers that we forget to get up and stretch.
This can be harmful to your weight and your circulation. Keep the blood flowing by getting up and moving a bit every hour or so.
The mindfulness of your health should not stop at the physical, but should also involve keeping an eye on mental health. Your job plays a big part in this as well.
First of all, you start and end your day with a commute. For some, this can be incredibly strenuous – expensive, traffic-filled, etc.
This has been known to lead to depression. Try filling this time with positivity and fulfillment by listening to a quality podcast or an audio book. This will help to give meaning to otherwise wasted time.
The most important thing to monitor with your mental health is making sure to not overwork yourself. It can be difficult to find that perfect work/life balance, but it’s necessary for a happy and healthy life.
Try staying away from work emails and texts after a certain time of the day on weekdays or on the weekends. Think about it this way – you’re not supposed to tend to your personal business during work hours, so why let work interfere with your personal time?
All of this can be helped by checking in with yourself every once in a while, or even by using the buddy system and discussing the topic with a work friend.
Lastly, be sure to check with your company to learn about health and wellness programs that may be offered.
Do literally anything with your money besides buy an iPhone X
(EDITORIAL) The iPhone X is pretty snazzy, but let me express why your money belongs literally anywhere besides in Apple’s pocket for this phone.
The iPhone X is off to a rocky start, beginning with the fact that no one seems to know whether it’s supposed to be pronounced “iPhone Ten” or “iPhone Ex” and working up from there.
If you’re here, you probably don’t need me to tell you that a 5.8-inch OLED screen, facial recognition, 4K recording at 60 FPS, and an all-glass design are superfluous as hell — but just in the off-chance that I’m wrong, THE IPHONE X IS SUPERFLUOUS AS HELL.
Take literally 30 seconds to think about all of the mega-cool features that convinced you to buy your last smartphone, then think of the last time you used even half of those features without feeling compelled to do so. If you’re one of those people who uses all of the filters on the camera every day, fine, but I’m willing to bet that you just use your phone for Facebook, texting, and calling your grandma.
You don’t need a 5.8-inch, all-glass, basically-a-tablet-of-a-phone to do those things, but if money doesn’t mean anything to you, be my guest.
It’s also worth noting that there is a certain point at which “really fast” and “really, really fast” feel identical to one another. My personal experience with this phenomenon was with the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 8; it doesn’t matter how fast your newest processor is if the last one was fast enough.
Apple has a long history of publicly executing things that people are still using. While it’s hard to be too mad about the headphone jack, they hit a soft spot when they nixed ethernet ports—and, more recently, USB 3.0 ports—and the most recent dissident to fall victim to Apple’s indiscriminate chopping block is the Home button.
Yeah, that thing that make the iPhone usable in the first place? Not there anymore. Worse still, the simple display is now flooded with different shortcut hotspots. For example, you swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open the Control Center — no, wait, that’s how you get home. You swipe from the top-right corner of the screen to open the Control Center, while the top-left corner opens the notifications screen that — hey, are you writing this down?
To make matters worse, Apple added a bunch of different contextual shortcuts to the physical buttons on the sides of the iPhone X, further reducing accessibility. I could go on, but I think you get the point.
Is the iPhone X necessary? Absolutely not. Is it neato? Sure.
But is it worth your time if you’ve got dollar bills to blow? Again, absolutely not — do literally anything else with that money, up to and including burning it. As long as Apple continues to ignore the issues that plague their devices in favor of broken facial recognition and 3D emoji animation, consider spending your money elsewhere.
New stats behind mobile addiction and how people are coping
Our five faves for Friday – almost Thanksgiving edition
Class action lawsuit claims Tesla plant is a hotbed of racism
Harvard digs into how several women broke the glass ceiling
How to revamp an overly long job hunt
Red Ventures acquires Bankrate, layoffs commence
All I want for Christmas is some Nuheara ear buds
9 ways to be more LGBTQIA+ inclusive at work
Wall Street wants to formally jump into Bitcoin waters
LuLaRoe in $1B lawsuit for shady business model
Amy’s Ice Cream founder on Austin’s business risks and rewards #WhyAustin
Turns out a lot of people are in between introverted and extroverted
P. Terry’s founder on the booming economy in Austin #WhyAustin
Ladies and gentlemen, the U.S. National Anthem
Indeed President, Chris Hyams tells us #WhyAustin [video]
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