As a developer, when I’m coding, I keep asking myself these questions: “Am I a good enough developer?“, “Is my code good enough?“, “Am I productive enough?”. The irony here is that the more I ask myself these questions, the more my productivity is negatively impacted.
After suffering from this for a long time, I realized that asking “Am I enough?” makes no sense and doesn’t help anybody. At least me asking myself.
This is a question I can hardly know the answer to; maybe there isn’t an answer. I can go over and over thinking of all the possible ways I’m not enough, and most probably I’ll find ways to convince myself that I am not.
Let’s say I do conclude that I’m not enough - so what? Do I pack my suitcases and resign from my job? Is it my call? This might sound crazy, but I don’t think it’s my call. If I’m enough is a question that makes sense for my boss or my clients. They can answer if I’m enough for what they need, and if they think I’m not, then act upon it. So, to put it simply and bluntly: it’s not my question, it’s not my problem.
But it’s not about me not caring about the client, it’s about me caring so much about the client that I want to focus my energy where it adds the most value.
So, my conclusion is that this question is a waste of time and energy, and I should stop asking it. But what should I do when that question comes to my mind? Knowing that I do care deeply about the client, what questions can I answer?
“Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing?” and “Am I doing the best I can?”
Those are things I (and only I) know, and I can do something if the answer is “no”. Asking these questions is valuable because it makes me review what I’m doing and think of ways to make it better. And if the answer is “yes”, it is absolutely liberating. I can stop wasting energy on repeatedly asking myself an unanswerable question and just checking in from time to time to make sure I continue doing what I’m supposed to be doing in the best way I can.
So now, every time the question comes to my mind, when that impostor syndrome starts creeping in, this is my internal dialog:
- Am I enough?
- It’s not my problem. I’ll trust my boss/client to let me know if I’m not creating the value they expect.
- Is this thing I’m doing right now what I’m supposed to be doing?
- Yes, this is the main priority for the project at the moment and it’s what I was asked to do.
- (Or sometimes) Oh!, I derailed and I’m working on a low priority issue or going deep into a rabbit hole that is not really valuable. Let’s review what I should be doing instead.
- Am I doing the best I can?
- Yes I am. I have the right conditions, the right mindset, I eliminated distractions, I’m really focusing on the task at hand, I’m using the best tools I know of, I’m asking for help when I need it…
- (Or sometimes) I’m being distracted by my phone messages’ alerts every 30 seconds. I’ll stop coding for a moment to fix this so I can focus and deliver the best code I can.
This is a very constructive dialog that will help me be a better developer, be more relaxed and focused, and deliver as much value as I can.
I’m very fortunate to work in an environment that doesn’t expect me to beat myself up but understands that when I feel good about myself and I’m relaxed I am more productive and add more value. I get feedback from my bosses and teammates about how I am good enough, the only one that still asks that question is me. I keep reminding myself about how useless it is and I’m constantly improving my inner dialog and doing better at my job. And I’m still working with Corgibytes and you are still reading this article, so apparently I am enough! ;)