3 Ways To Solve Your Impostor Syndrome

Aatir Abdul Rauf


Aatir Abdul Rauf


Sep 26, 2022

3 Ways To Solve Your Impostor Syndrome

Several years ago, I went to a gaming arcade where I played a title called "Marvel vs Capcom".

I picked Wolverine.

Mind you, I had never played the game before, so I did what any sane kid in my position would do:

Mash buttons at random.

As I went deeper into this frenzy, I started landing some serious moves, some of which were epic.

The game would suddenly pause, the screen would darken, Wolverine would go airborne and unleash an electrifying, cataclysmic move with his adamantium claws.

I began noticing the pattern & sequence of buttons. Eventually, I was able to reproduce the moves far more predictably. And believe it or not, I actually won a couple of games.

After a few battles, I decide to switch my character to Cyclops.

Now, I had no clue about Cyclops' move set. But I proceeded to do what I did the first time around: mash buttons.

I didn't feel scared or intimidated that I'd fail or didn't know enough about the character's niceties.

I just knew that I would need to try a few things, learn quickly and eventually, I'd figure it out.

Product Managers tend to drown in Impostor Syndrome, especially when they take up the reins of a new product.

This is an acute case of self-doubt which elicits questions like:

  • Were my previous achievements a fluke?
  • I didn't contribute anything meaningful to the success of the project
  • I don't have all the answers. Presented with a new problem, I might blank out. I'll be exposed
A depressed man

To counter this negativity, I personally look back at my arcade experience:

Shift the focus to inputs

It's true that, at the end of the day, outcomes matter. But if you worry about the outcome indefinitely, you'll probably won't do justice to the inputs you need to inject.

We study hard for the exam first, not obsess about the potential result.

So, do the basics right. Conduct discovery. Understand pain points. Write emails. Coordinate. Follow up. Attend rituals. The outcomes will follow.

Lesson: Mash Buttons.

Concentrate on knowledge accumulation & pattern recognition

It's acceptable not to know the answers at first. Nobody has everything sorted out. There will be plenty of things that your peers will also not know.

But fixating yourself on knowledge accumulation deflates the pressure. Capture information from your team members, product data, customer feedback & by spectating conversations around you.

As you go along, you'll find some things make more sense than others.

Lesson: Recognize the pattern of buttons that trigger the special moves.

Be optimistic & enjoy the game

Reflect back to your past experiences. You made it then. You'll make it now.

Back yourself that you'll figure it out. Derive energy from the challenge and relish the fulfillment you acquire from learning new things.

Lesson: You did well with Wolverine. Cyclops doesn't have to be different.

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