Don’t let impostor syndrome hold you back

Adrian Cantrill
4 min readNov 4, 2016

I find that my decision to quit and become a freelance content creator is very often the topic of my conversations recently — and not initiated by me!

I don’t mind telling the story — I think it helps me as much as it informs others. It gives me a chance to re-confirm my logic for doing this every time I tell the story — and so far no regrets. The conversation inevitably changes in most cases to focus on the person I’m talking too. About how much the other person wishes he or she was in a position to try it. After we break down their situation it generally comes down to how confident they are.

They aren't sure they’re good enough technically or artistically. They think their voice sounds funny. The common theme is that whoever I’m talking to isn’t confident they are good enough to do what I’m doing full-time.

Well I have news for you…You are good enough (probably). You’re just suffering from impostor syndrome.

You know what? me too! Every time I talk to a large audience it scares me. Helping with the recent Serverlessconf in London was so far out of my comfort zone, I think I left it behind in Brisbane.

Every time I release a course I expect the worst and I’m always surprised I get any good feedback — even though the reception on my most recent course, and the one before has been amazing. I don’t expect it will ever change — it’s something I need to become comfortable with and deal with.

I’m obviously not as affected by it as some — after-all I’ve jumped into freelancing with both feet. If there were a problem — I’d have been found out already!!

I’ve been giving it some thought and wanted to provide a few points on how I’m dealing with it — my golden nuggets.

  1. Tell Everyone — publicising your fear of being ‘found out’ makes it less real — by making it pubic, you remove that nagging feeling. If you were a fake, someone would tell ….right?
  2. Focus on your audience , deliver what they really want & need — the only way to convince yourself that what you have is a real skill is to service an appreciative audience. Communicate with, and involve your audience in your process as much, and as regularly as possible.
  3. Really.. focus.. on adding value — what about your creation(s) is valuable. If you have extreme imposter syndrome you might find it hard to see what you do as special. If you are already getting an income stream, or building a community what has been successful already? focus on that and drive constant and significant improvement.
  4. Find a niche & develop it — I ‘think’ I’ve identified over the last 6-months what people like about my courses — what makes them special. My focus on the next 6 months is to develop and perfect THAT aspect. I want to be the best at my niche.
  5. Nobody really knows what they are doing! — can you identify successful people in your field? Those people are likely average — but have got over their imposter syndrome. Note, I don’t say ‘fixed’, I say got over. Just keep working on your thing, keep improving, keep delivering and you will be the person you aspire to be in no time.
  6. So what if you are bad — if you love what you do, you can improve. You may notice an ongoing theme here. Make something. Produce something. If it’s bad — make it less bad the second time. Soon-enough it wont be bad and you will start getting good feedback — at that point it gets easier.
  7. Collect positive feedback — It sounds a little cliché but having all of your good feedback collected in one place is like armour against internet-troll-feedback (it happens, and you will need the backup).
  8. Think of it as a venture, an experiment — that way, if you fail, it was never serious. If it works out, you can claim it was all part of your grand plan — just like everyone who is successful does..

Nobody good, starts of that way. I don’t think of myself as good — I have a list of things longer than I can fit on one screen which I want to improve. I don’t think I’ll ever be finished improving, at least I hope not.

I love helping people to learn and improve — even if I help one person it’s enough. If i get any bad feedback, I’ll fix it and move on.

I hope this was useful, I wasn't going to post it — I hate writing, I’m bad at it, and I’m scared people will eventually find out….



Adrian Cantrill

Technical Trainer, Cloud Architect, Tech, Productivity & Efficiency Obsessed wannabe minimalist.