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Day 6: Believe

Level 17

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My job includes the privilege of traveling to conventions and tech shows, sometimes to give a speech but much more often to listen to what others have to say and then react to what I've heard - either in an essay like this one or in a talk of my own.

Among those who speak often, "Imposter syndrome" is a frequent topic of discussion.

Of course, imposter syndrome is far from unique to tech speakers, or people who speak in front of large groups in any context, for that matter. Nor does it strike people who have achieved little. In fact, I am always struck when I hear about people who are clearly acknowledge as experts in their field, but who exhibit significant doubt about their abilities.

Recently, Dame Maggie Smith (Downt'n Abbey, Harry Potter, not to mention a career spanning over 60 years.) gave an interview where she expressed deep insecurity about her work. She spoke of an inability to know, in the moment, whether her performance was any good or not.

While the subject of imposter syndrome is well-trod (I recently had the privilege to hear Jody Wolfborn (@joderita on Twitter) speak about it at DevOpsDays Ohio), one thing that struck me was whether we who deal with a lack of belief in ourselves or our abilities somehow - whether consciously or not - attribute any of our success to the fact that our own fears spurred us to greater heights.

This thought crosses my mind often. It is, for me at least, inescapable. After a talk goes well or a essay is well-received, I find myself thinking, "All that freaking out and worry must have paid off". It's the worst kind of positive feedback loop for negative behavior.

How much better would it be if I, if WE all believed in our abilities? If we practiced positive self-talk ("Come on, Leon, you've got this!")? If we listened to those who complimented and praised us? I'm not talking about hubris, of course. I don't mean we should believe our fecal matter is odorless or that everything we produce should be showered with every  award the universe has to offer.

But we should believe - meaning to take as an article of faith that requires no proof, and which cannot be dis-proven by a single less-than stellar outcome - that we are capable of extraordinary things when we are willing to work for it.

My challenge to you on this day is to put some effort into believing in yourself. And then see what you're able to accomplish.

62 Comments

In my life i believe in many things.  Although there is doubt along the way i still manage to stand firm in my belief.  I am a Christian, a Mormon, and an IT professional.   For some of you, to understand that means i don't drink Coffee or tea, and limit my caffeine intake.  I believe in being self driven, to be the best person you can be and to continue to reach for a star even when you are on the highest cloud in the sky.  

working to improve ones self is one to of the hardest, and most rewarding things you can do.  Its very hard to take constant critical feedback, and turn it to a positive, then make it part of who you are, then i remember for me anyway, I work in IT, that is all we do every day.   We are constant change agents.  Continually striving to improve, make things better, more reliable and work optimally and when we do our jobs correctly, everyone succeeds.

after over 20 years now in IT and much of that as a leader, and Sr leader, I find that being able to set the example isn't simple acting like you want others to act, it is doing what you would ask others to do.  When your team stays late, you stay late.  Believe in who you are and follow that belief.   Stand in your beliefs and never question or be ashamed of who you are.  When it comes to your job in IT believe that you always win.  I tell my guys all the time "I WIN".  No machine is going to be smarter than me today, faster maybe, able to asist me yes for sure, but when it breaks down, who does it turn to, me, and where for I win, because I believe I can. 

Level 11

I know that it is not a popular topic among many techies in the field.  But when you bring up the topic of belief, this is the first thing comes to mind.  I believe in God creator of the heavens and the earth and that Jesus was the son of God, who died on the cross and rose from the dead. For me science actually helps prove the existence of God.  Thanks Einstein for helping to prove that - E=mc2

Level 11

I believe that you can't strongly convince people to believe in what you actually don't believe in.

Belief is objective.

Unfortunately, today belief is too often accepted as subjective.

By quick definition:

An objective perspective is one that is not influenced by emotions, opinions, or personal feelings - it is a perspective based in fact, in things quantifiable and measurable. A subjective perspective is one open to greater interpretation based on personal feeling, emotion, aesthetics, etc.

Social media is at  times a powerful tool to get truth out that the powers that may be would not want out.  It is a way for whistle blowers and oppressed people alike to shine the light of truth.  It is also a way for people to push an emotional agenda or express something they wish to be true as truth.  Take the US election of 2016.  Both sides of the the political aisle--or all four if you count #neverTrump and #feelTheBern--expressed strong messages.  Some true and some just wishful thinking (or simply political mud slinging)  But it was hard to know what to believe sorting through what was objective and what was subjective.

We do this not just in politics but in our jobs as well.  And we would do well to remember, something is not true just because you believe it and just because we do not believe it does not make it untrue.

Is the SAN monitored?  I can believe it is because the SAN manager tells me it is.  But that does not mean it is.  Because truth is not dependent on what I believe( or what the SAN Manager believe).  Is there a system in place to monitor the SAN?  Is Orion receiving Traps?  Do I have Storage Resource Monitor installed and properly configured?

Be wary in this day of pithy sayings and cute memes, to know that there is an object of your belief.

Be careful of bold statements and bravado, to look passed the surface to see the substance.

Be leery of heads in the sand and wishful thinking, to see the truth in the face of fear.

We can only make wise decisions in our lives and in our work if we are sure of what we believe and even why we believe.

Level 13

"Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally."   David Frost

Level 12

Interestingly, the etymology of believe is not quite what I expected.  Not unbelievable, but I believe it's credible.

Online Etymology Dictionary

I sure wish my posts would show, every day on this challenge my posts are moderated, and no one will approve them.   seems like the only messages that make it through are from my inbox.   If i post directly I get moderated. adatoleDanielleH​  Every single day in the December writing challenge i have a message waiting for approval.  HELP!!!!  Please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

FYI everything i post on thwack currently is moderated, so if you are reading this help me.   I can not participate in the bards unless its in my inbox, this is no fun for me anymore.   I believe Can find a less expensive solution to support my systems, if the solarwinds support and now thwack support is going to fizzle out.   very disappointed the last couple month.

FYI everything i post on thwack currently is moderated, so if you are reading this help me.   I can not participate in the bards unless its in my inbox, this is no fun for me anymore.   I believe Can find a less expensive solution to support my systems, if the solarwinds support and now thwack support is going to fizzle out.   very disappointed the last couple month.

Level 10

if you believe you can achieve.

MVP
MVP

I believe I can do anything to the best of my ability. As long as I believe in God, myself, and those that work for me and with me, I can do anything.

Level 9

Believe, probably the strongest emotion we have available to us. Weather its in Religion, People, Science or anything that can be a motivational tool. If we look at any great act weather it be good or bad we can say Belief was at the core of the decision. We need to carefully guard what we believe in and what we allow our children to believe in.

Level 9

Believe in yourself.

Level 20

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The new movie looks pretty good!

Level 8

does the wolf care what the sheep thinks, believe in yourself and you can do anything.

Level 21

adatole​ I first have to point out how much I love reading the things you write; the combination of insight with the sprinkling of unexpected humor is awesome!

I do think its important to believe in ourselves; however, I think in a work environment that also needs to be part of the culture.  A supporting culture where you are fortunate enough to have management agree to back you up and support you in what you do so long as you can support your own decisions with good reason and data is important to building a strong belief in our own skills.  In a more negative culture where you constantly need to watch your back and try to avoid getting thrown under the proverbial bus doesn't exactly create an environment where you can believe in yourself.

If you are in one of these less positive environments my suggestion would be consider looking elsewhere because better places do exist.

Level 12

Believe in yourself and your abilities.

Today’s word is “Believe”:

To have confidence or faith in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something.

We can trust in Orion, believing its information, until that information is proven inaccurate. 

For example, looking at a month’s worth of bandwidth utilization on a specific port is believed to be the truth, accurate for my organization’s needs. 

But then I fire up the Toolset’s Bandwidth Gauges and begin checking that same interface’s throughput every ten seconds instead of every two minutes, and I see that the NPM stats are not to be believed.  They don’t show the truer story that is revealed with 10-second-polling with the Engineer’s Toolset.

Going into this with that understanding is important. 

Trust NPM, but verify--with the Toolset.

Level 14

Believe in yourself

Trust who you are,

Understand your strengths

And you will go far.

Level 11

Believe

accept (something) as true; feel sure of the truth of:

Level 10

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Believe in yourself and what you want to do.

Level 10

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Level 11

Level 13

a very old saying...

"Do, or do not, there is no try."

relies on the fundamental idea that if you believe you can do something, you can do it...i.e. I think I can fix it, I'll try to fix it. NO - you CAN fix it.

MVP
MVP

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Level 13

I think self-confidence is great, but you need enough sense to know if you're actually good at what you do or not. Unfortunately (as we've learned from watching shows like X-Factor) there are quite a few people that think they are good at something that are actually horrible, and you run into those folks in our profession all too frequently.  I guess I'd rather err on the side of having a healthy dose of self doubt to keep me honest and cautious than having a little  too much hubris and charging in and getting my head handed to me on a platter.

I think we all feel like imposters at times, which is just a reminder that we're not perfect.  It might also be a result of keeping yourself challenged by getting out of your comfort zone and getting in a bit over your head.

Your closing statement reminded me of Stuart Smalley. "...put some effort into believing in yourself. And then see what you're able to accomplish."

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Level 10

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No matter how much I prepare and believe that I am ready, that belief is shattered at times.

I recently took and passed the CISSP.  To prepare I researched topics on the web, watched two web training video series, read large chunks of three books, took over a thousand practice questions and attended a 57 hour six-day boot camp with the author of two books on the subject.  Overall I studied 160+ hours for the test.

By question 180 of 250 I knew I was going to fail but kept on going to experience the whole test.  The belief I had in my abilities before the test started was shattered.

I had to read the test report three times (like a test question) to understand I had passed.

Belief shattered and reaffirmed in a few hours.

RT

Level 10

Believe in yourself.

If you thank you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you won’t. Confidence is believing in yourself and if you don’t have confidence it will show. It will appear you are afraid of the rapidly moving pace of IT if it be new learning opportunities or a new advancement position. Believe you can and you can do anything!

Level 12

I am not much of a believer honestly. I don't take it on faith that something is going to work unless I know it is going to work. Far to many people who I have worked with in IT over the years believe that just because they did something that it will work exactly as their believe it will. This often does not turn out to be the case. It is perfectly find to believe in yourself, but you should never base anything on that alone. A slight change up of a quote I use quite often "Trust but Verify" I usually go with "Believe but Verify". It is amazing how often someone gets offended in IT when someone checks their work. If someone is checking what you did, it is usually just to verify it, not because they don't believe in your ability to do the job.

MVP
MVP

Real belief is passionate, but passion does not necessarily express belief. If you truly believe in something it will come out and people will recognize that it is important to you. If however, you are passionate about something that isn't truly a belief it will be seen as fake or trying too hard.

In the IT area we often get people that feel very strongly about a particular product/brand/technology - that's passion. But the underlying Why is the foundation of the belief.Our jobs are to solve problems and propose/implement the best solutions. If you believe in your purpose you will be of an open mind to find the best solution rather than just the favorite tool. That kind of belief leads to a passion for your purpose, rather than you tools.

MVP
MVP

Oh come on! we work with tech, there isn't any belief, its cold hard facts we want.

If you know you can do it, you can do it.

That is sheer willpower and dedication / hard work rather than belief. I dislike subjects that end up leading us down a path of subjective theology and wishy washy magical belief systems.

I don't believe I am good at what I do, I demonstrate it and it is proven.

The probable outcome of me working with solarwinds to fix a problem is quite high. Its not blowing my own trumpet. This is probability friends.

Be determined, dedicated and factual.

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I empathize with everything you said adatole​ . I think some of what causes "Impostor Syndrome" for me is that I have a sense of how much I do not yet know. So when I am asked to speak or write on a subject it is easy for me to take for granted the stuff I do know and focus on the gaps in my understanding. I had a geometry teacher in high school who talked with me about my self doubts in succeeding in his class. He said in your academic and professional life you must remember that as you achieve success you will mostly be surrounded by people who have achieved the same. You will appear to yourself to become more average or less than. You must remember to look outside of that peer group and be aware of all those who have not obtained your level of understanding. Not so that you put them down or degrade them , but to appreciate all how much you have achieved. This kind of perspective has given me the strength to push outside my comfort zones many times, because I believe I can do at least an adequate job of most things I try. And to those observing me it might appear as if I am flying - so to speak.

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The one belief I have about myself is I can learn anything another human has. I may not be able to turn it into action as well as they, but it is not beyond my grasp of understanding.

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In every aspect of life we experience belief. To take anything as a fact you must believe what you have read or heard. The act of accepting that a statement is true or that something exists is to believe. I believe that there is a fiber optic cable running out of my data center thru which flashes of light propagate and that detectors on each side can take those flashes convert them to another form of electromagnetic wave, which then go thru other transformations designed and manufactured by countless other humans, that result in outputs of light and sound that I take in thru my senses and perceive cats playing piano!

Level 10

Really liked your comments, you had a very wise teacher.

Level 11

Seeing the word today made me think of my kids.  I've thought a lot lately about how they inspire me, and seeing the things they achieve make me believe ​that anything can be accomplished.

Level 10

This is a serious case that I am yet to believe. I seem to what to believe in everyone, but i have to believe in my self and what i can do to be a better sysadmin. I believe most of the Solarwinds tools and feedback from the believable thwack team will work for me.

MVP
MVP

oby​ You've been drinking the Solarwinds Kool-Aid

DanielleH​ Can we get Kool-Aid added to the Thwack Store?

MVP
MVP

Reaches the parts, other monitoring packages cannot reach...

Believe.

Cher - Believe [Official Music Video] - YouTube

Sorry couldn't resist.

Level 12

"That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.”  John 8:24

Level 9

I believe day follows night, cats make good friends, live music is always better, and the glass is half full. After that, everything else falls into place.

Level 10

to believe, or not to believe, that is the question. Tis ignorance is bliss!

Level 11

Believe in yourself so much that that no one can believe more than you.

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Level 9

Believe, easily in yourself is hard. I know in the past I use to find this hard, do you take this job, can I actually do what it entails? Was that the answer to this certification question or was it this one? Do I believe what my gut was telling me?

Overtime you learn that the only person holding YOU back is YOU. Once you come to believe in yourself and what you are capable of, then nothing should stand in your way. I am actually looking at a complete career change into a dream job that will be very taxing. I never thought in the past I would be able to do it, but now I am at the very end with the white tunnel entrance before me. I believed in myself and pushed and now it is within my grasp!

Level 10

I was insecure regarding my abilities at the beginning of my tech career.  It took about a month of users thinking I had magic powers over machines to get my self-esteem up.

Level 9

I'm of two minds about this. Sure, believe in yourself, go into any project with the mindset that you will succeed. But once you get beyond yourself in into the greater world, try to make sure your beliefs are rooted in something other than your desires, that they match reality as closely as possible. Too often people look for evidence that backs up their beliefs rather than having beliefs that match the evidence.

Level 12

I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky.

Level 9

People still think I have magic powers over machines... but I still ask questions I already know the answer to.

I had a manager fail to believe in my skills, and they made me question myself excessively. It brought a lot of stress, but I overcame and exceeded their expectations in order to make them believe in my skills. I think I still question my skills as a result, though. I think jehicks​ puts this in a way I can relate, as it's somewhat similar.