Thursday, April 26, 2018

Small Ponds, Mastery and Imposter Syndrome (Tradecraft)

I've talked about this before, but a couple thoughts come to mind about Imposter Syndrome. The term describes how:
...people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud".
First, anybody in the game trade suffering from imposter syndrome should note how very small our trade is. You shouldn't really have imposter syndrome in a trade so small it doesn't have an insurance classification. The pond is tiny. Keep that in mind when you feel fraudulent about being a big fish. Game trade delusions of grandeur lack the usual trappings of success.

Second, mastery is complicated and in this field it's neither automatic nor shown recognition. If you read and internalized Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, you might expect the 10,000 hour rule to kick in. You do the work, around five years worth, and you obtain mastery, right? Nope. A new study shows that's partially true in some areas, but in professional work, that time only accounts for 1% of mastery.

So in the game trade, you could be just as much a fool in year ten as year one, or what's more likely, an even bigger fool! In small business, your chance of failure never really declines after the first few years. Your chance of failure in year five is the same as year fifteen. Mastery in retail does not come from time served.

This means there's little recognition in small business about mastery. There are no master level stores, or special categories for the top tier stores from Wizards of the Coast. Got enough folding tables for fifty people? You're top tier at Wizards of the Coast. Butts in seats baby.

Recognition instead comes from like minded peers, and if you aren't networked with like minded peers, you're likely to have a bad case of imposter syndrome. Also, in this small pond, mastery is not a well defined category. I know some brilliant store owners whose opinion I greatly respect who make a very small amount of money. I judge them on their ideas, not their income. A million dollar club certainly wouldn't demonstrate mastery in this field, although there are useful commonalities that could be helpful.

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