When I started doing consulting work in the early 2000’s, my perception of people’s ability to comprehend and use software as being relatively equal. I assumed that gender, age, race, and any other factor were irrelevant to any user’s ability to be proficient at software use.
In fact, this IS true, but it’s also true that psychologically, inherent abilities have NOTHING to do with what people do to develop those abilities. I’ve found that most problems with people’s lack of abilities is related to their willingness and interest in developing those talents—not related to their intelligence or capacity.
This article speaks to that psychological element that makes it SEEM like some groups are less capable of certain types of IT usage tasks—it’s more geared toward ATTITUDE (and perhaps ability to work through fear/anxiety) than capability.
Imposter Syndrome describes the situation you might typically find yourself in when you start a new job—you likely have the skills necessary to do the job, but there are so many new things to learn that you FEEL like you’re unqualified. While normal for most new job situations, it normally fades quickly—as the newness of tasks at hand quickly fades.
Imposter Syndrome is the feeling that you aren’t qualified, aren’t capable, or aren’t worthy of the position or responsibilities you’re doing.
Imposter Syndrome can be a valuable “keep you on your toes”-type of technique, but if new situations don’t become familiar with confidence in the tasks building over time, it can snowball and damage personal or project progress.
With technology, software, and rapid advancements in information, it’s easy for ANYBODY to feel overwhelmed and as if they are behind everyone else. Everybody experiences change and stress differently, but one thing holds true for everybody:
If you understand why and where your stress is coming from, you can change your strategy and use it to your advantage!
In other words, much of the stress that comes from change is a result of NOT KNOWING what to expect! If you know what to expect, you can prepare (mentally and practically) in ways that eliminate the stress.
As a professional consultant who has learned much about people and processes in over 20 years, I realize that I’ve become a master of Imposter Syndrome—I constantly attack problems that don’t have canned solutions available—my (and my company’s) value comes largely from problem-solving abilities. By approaching EVERY new situation as a confident “Impostor”, instead of letting the situation cause me stress, I’ve made a career out of surfing the opportunities that present themselves when I confidently USE these principles to my advantage:
- I understand that most PEOPLE don’t know how to do what I’m trying to figure out. (That’s why I’m being paid to solve the problem…)
- I understand that most PROBLEMS are solvable! (The constraints are usually related to budget.)
- I know that preparation for testing and failure handling (like backups!!!) remove stress and allow for experimentation and solution building.
- I have learned that I am INTELLIGENT enough to learn quickly enough to catch up in most situations.
- I have learned that SOMEBODY else has had a similar problem, and their likely to have discussed it online (Google!)
- I’ve learned that I don’t have all the tools, and there are always new tools available to find to solve problems.
- I approach every situation as a LEARNING opportunity—if I expect to not know everything up front (humility/teachability), then I can easily adapt and shift to become what I need to be to help.
- I know that if there is a wall that seems impassable, that feeling is because I haven’t found an alternative yet—when I find that there is not a hole under, a path around, no way to go over, no way to sneak through and I am tempted to pretend there are no options, I remember that increased budget ALWAYS creates new options! (And therefore, my options are never as limited as they seem, and renewed enthusiasm often finds hidden economical options.)
- I believe that most people are capable of doing far more than they believe or understand.
- I found that most people don’t know how to conquer their Imposter Syndrome fears—this increases my demand if I can be the one to fill the holes for people when they get into trouble. (Hint—you don’t have to be a professional consultant to increase your value in ANY organization by being that person who people can turn to in situations that require confidence in unknown areas.)
- I found that if I were able to use a formula to quantify my stress, pain, and joy related to most projects, the satisfaction of a successful project is nearly ALWAYS far greater than the pain that went into the solving the problem.
- The more I practice HOPE and FAITH in myself and do hard things, the more I learn that my fears were unfounded.
ERP Software and Impostor Syndrome
While Impostor Syndrome may seem like an obviously relevant topic for personal development, ERP Software presents some unique challenges to a lot of people.
Because I have directly trained hundreds of people in using new ERP and accounting software packages, I’ve seen hundreds of different reactions to the (sometimes abrupt) changes in daily routines. Some people panic out of overwhelm, some feel betrayed by (often incorrectly perceived) loss of functionality, and others feel empowered to take the new software to new heights of creativity.
Impostor Syndrome is active for most people when switching routines to a new software package. With new ERP software, we usually do similar types of activities as the OLD software, but it’s usually (at least stylistically) different in key ways. Usually ERP changes are done to achieve key benefits, but when the change is uncomfortable, it’s often the fears related to Impostor Syndrome affecting perspectives.
ERP software helps process transactions as efficiently and accurately and simply as possible. (A great ERP system leverages that collected data in ways that improve the business…) Any fear related to learning a new system is because of the change involved. Any time we start doing things without confidence, we bump up against the negative forces of Impostor Syndrome. By understanding those negative forces (and pushing through them with confidence in our ability to grow and learn), we improve our own value, confidence, and satisfaction.
The bottom line with most fears is that they CAN be conquered. By confidently understanding ourselves and our fears, we can have great experiences with new situations—EVEN ERP SOFTWARE!