I enjoy working in very performance-oriented environments. The work in such places is generally high impact and wide reaching, while being very fast paced at the same time. In short, it exactly ticks all the check boxes that are normally ascribed to the “Millennial” generation.

And when you work in such environments, you have the chance to work with some of the most brilliant people in the field: The experts, the wise old sages with eons of experience, and the nuclear-powered people who are always driven and never seem to tire. Everyone does their best and contributes the best, because after all, they are the best.

You feel so happy doing this work. Extremely fulfilled. Always hyped up. Ready to throw as many punches as you can.

Then, it hits you. You feel like all of this is too good to be true.

And above all else, there’s always this lingering fear: That your best, sadly, isn’t enough. You feel like you are always under-delivering, and that you are going to be let-go anytime. You feel like you do not deserve to work here.

Here’s a few things that I have learnt so far to help manage this feeling. This is very much a note or two to anyone who needs advice, as well as to myself.


  1. Manage expectations

We have to manage the expectations of at least three significant stakeholders: 1) Ourselves; 2) The people we report to; and (3) The people we work with.

To manage our own expectations, it is important to remember that, at least at this stage of life, pretty much inexperienced. There will be people on the team who come up, in very short amounts of time, brilliant and impressive results. But they only reason why they are so impressive is because they have the experience in that subject. Soon enough, if we persevere, we too would have such experience to leverage on.

And remember to ask what is expected of you, and be sure to inform them of your capabilities. My colleague once told me this mantra: Under-promise, but over-deliver. A very simple example of this is to promise to submit your work by, say, 5 p.m., but you are sure to aim to complete it by 3 p.m. This buys us time for contingencies, rather than having to push ourselves to work impossible deadlines on unexpected problems and disappointing people.

Another note to remember: At many times, other people around us may feel like a fraud too (Check out this link, where people like the COO of Facebook and many other accomplished individuals feel like imposters at times)


  1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew

Sometimes, you do not need to come up with “game-changing” and “paradigm-shifting” solution to problems so that we can impress the people around us. Don’t bring a gun into a knife fight. So start small. Sometimes it is the continual summation of all these small but meaningful efforts that eventually add up to give us a robust solution to the problem.

The same thing can be said of managing our workloads. Take one step at a time. Break down the problem into smaller, manageable blocks. Focus on one small block at a time. Soon enough, all of these will add up and ta-da, the whole picture suddenly becomes clear.

Now, the problem with tackling the whole issue as one big chunk is that we risk burn-out. There are many times that I thought I could tackle all the issues in my project at the same time. I only ended up falling ill and wasted an entire week recuperating.


  1. It’s all about continual progress: ALWAYS ASK FOR AND INCORPORATE FEEDBACK

We are all works-in-progress. To deliver proper work that has a huge impact on the society and the people around us, we always have to remember to always involve them in the process. Asking the people we work with and the people around us for feedback is the only way to ensure that the solution that we are offering them actually solves their problems.


So there we have it. It is important to ensure that this fear is managed before it becomes a stumbling block for ourselves. Do not choke when it matters.

Overcoming impostor syndrome

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