The Impostor Syndrome and the Data Architect

The data architect blogosphere is small and virtually non-existent. It is largely a collection of software vendors working in the data space sharing their expertise with a slant to using their products. Added into that mix are data architects and DBAs in data and database consultancies. Absent are the in-house data architects managing data models and metadata in the corporate world.

In the past, I reasoned that the absence of data modeling foot soldiers was due to two factors. Work time is precious and blogging may not fit into the corporate data architects hectic work schedule. Add to that, data architects are not regular social networkers on professional networking sites like Twitter and LinkedIn.

Over the past few months, I have been researching an interesting phenomenon, the Impostor Syndrome. Earlier this summer, I attended a seminar on the topic that peaked my interest. I believe this might well be a prime reason for the absence of data architects in the IT blogosphere.

The Impostor Syndrome is a psychological condition where the individual is unable to recognize their accomplishments and knowledge. The person dismisses their expertise as being less than what others believe they possess; possibly incorrect or irrelevant; and not earned but by the result of luck or being in the right place at the right time. It usually manifests itself in highly competent people who tend to be masters of their domains.

I personally know many data architects that would make excellent bloggers. I have urged these data architects to blog about their experiences in the data modeling world. They are certainly respected and highly competent. The Impostor Syndrome seems to fit why they are non-bloggers.

There is a good chance that you are a data architect if you are reading this blog post. I urge you to share your experiences in a blog. There are many platforms that can get you blogging in a short timeframe. You will find great reward from your efforts.

Do you think you suffer from the Impostor Syndrome? This Forbes article by Margie Warrell is an excellent place to learn more about overcoming the Impostor Syndrome. Here are five things to think about should you find yourself ready to blog about data models, metadata, big data, data governance and other data topics.

  1. Accept your success. Your resume outlines your career of data architect success. Your libraries of data models demonstrate your technical expertise and value to your enterprise’s information food chain. You are the go-to guy or gal when it comes to data in your IT shop. That says, “Success!”
  2. Stop comparing yourself to others. I suffered from this very point. I have worked long stints for a few employers. I felt my depth of knowledge was shallow compared to those who more frequently crossed industries and employers. The lesson here is that my tenure and depth of knowledge of data modeling gave me a perspective that that others value or may be living.
  3. Your voice counts. Each of our resumes is unique. Data architect job responsibilities are varied from the very conceptual to the highly physical. I can guarantee that parts of your experience are similar to other data architects. You are not alone in your voice. Others want to hear your story and learn.
  4. Blogging does not equal expertise. Don’t be intimidated by the industry expert blogs. They are only one dimension of our community. Their blogs are not the sum of expertise in the data architect world. The corporate data architect lives in world where they shape an enterprise’s data culture and information landscape. The day-to-day challenges faced in these tasks are stories that people want to hear.
  5. Acknowledge the Impostor Syndrome. Do you still have reservations about blogging? You have the knowledge. You know you can add value with your experiences to the data architect blogosphere. You are THE data guy or data gal. You are ready to write. It sounds like you need to overcome the Impostor Syndrome. Take some time understanding it and how you can personally overcome it.

Tom Bilcze

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