You Think Too Much

Overthinking is a slow poison

A lot of people liked the imposter syndrome bit in my EthCC talk, so I decided to expand it into an article.

Looking around my peers, I noticed an interesting pattern: those who have achieved extreme success often were not the best performers in school.

While it is true that performing well in school generally sets you up for a solid foundation, it is those outliers that I'm intrigued about.

Just Start

One of my internet heroes is this indie solo entrepreneur named "Pieter Levels", best known for creating He's launched a couple more companies since then, and is on track to make $3 million in 2022 alone.

The funny thing is that he didn't even use Git until late 2020. Nomadlist was live for nearly 6 years, and was seeing well over high 6 figures in annual revenue by then.

Not using Git in software engineering is the equivalent of never wearing protective eye gear while using power tools.

The man, with no formal education in software or business, has built a Software as a Service empire. Pretty impressive.

The madman ventured out of his comfort zone, didn't overthink, didn't doubt himself, and just executed. What a crazy concept!

Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. ‘Imposters’ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence

Harvard Business Review

I grew up on an island in the southern hemisphere and had serious imposter syndrome. I mean, I didn't graduate from a prestigious university, never worked at MANGA, how could I keep up with the giga-chads from Silicon Valley?

That was, until I got the opportunity to participate in hackthenorth in Waterloo, Canada. (Fun fact: The Waterloo of America is MIT). Travel costs were also partially subsidised, which was incredibly helpful back then.

After interacting with the (mostly North American) participants, I realised that they were all... just like me. They used the same frameworks as me (flask, express), the software they wrote crashed half the time too, and most of the time we were just glueing together random APIs to hit the sponsor's requirement to create unique "products".

The only difference being that they had a funny accent and somehow had a lot of confidence.

Its Better to Be Lucky Than Smart

Sometimes, people are also just plain lucky - once upon a time, a literal monkey was within the top 0.01% of brokers on wall street.

Timothy Dexter, a medieval lottery winner, is another prime example.

So, while success is correlated to intelligence or performance, it might not necessarily be causational.

Consistency Is King

It's no secret that training consistently will yield better results than training when you have a jolt of motivation.

Small wins compound over time, however small they may be. Unfortunately our monkey brains innately think in linear terms, so here is a visualisation:


Circling back to the outliers, my humble theory is that from a young age, being a small fish in a big pond, the concept of "there's always a taller mountain" has been ingrained into them.

They understand that the work they output doesn't need to be "the best", it just needs to be "good enough".

By seeking excellence and not perfection, they avoid analysis paralysis, and overtime, they execute more. These small wins, achievements, and experiences compound.That's why they're so successful.

So, don't overthink, just do. You're more capable than you think.