(un)Qualified

I am a programmer. I work in a difficult field. It is highly abstract. It is always changing. Nothing ever just works the first time through. There are always challenges. A lot of us in the field spend a good part of our time not even feeling like we truly belong. Maybe your field is like this. Maybe not.

It’s not a field where soft skills have traditionally held much sway. Writing a working program will always be considered more valuable than confidence or a winning smile. You can’t hide very easily in my field if you don’t produce. Because of that, many of us suffer (at least at times) with what is known as Imposter’s Syndrome. The idea is widely discussed in programming circles and plenty of articles have been written on it. No matter what we’ve done or what we can do, at times (or for some all the time) we feel like a fake. No matter our education, accomplishments, or constant preparation through continuing education or side projects, there is just so much that we don’t know, but our only recourse is to keep diving in, learning more or let the industry pass us by.

I’m sure this is the case in many fields, especially those that require technical expertise, especially those where things change quickly. The people that thrive in such fields are those who don’t have false confidence about their abilities. They’re maybe even a little insecure about how they measure up, driving them constantly forward. The people who are overly confident crash and burn taking others down with them when they go.

I would guess that the average politician, and especially most Presidents have that feeling. You’ll notice that they are typically voracious readers. When they retire, they always set up a Presidential library. They give huge credence to the idea of constant preparation.

If a President is not prepared, what happens when the worst scenario invariably occurs? They must face their fear of being caught flat footed when there is so much at at stake. A President has a lot more on the line than I do, but like me, his or her soft skills will only go so far in a crisis situation. Preparation, knowledge of policy, understanding of the toolset given a President are all that will really save the day. This is not only true for the President, but for his cabinet as well.

Some people have said that the President is more a figurehead surrounded by experts. But, what if the “experts” aren’t prepared either? Who is prepared to actually lead? Who has stayed up late at night reading, discussing, understanding the complicated models created by policy experts?

I can’t imagine a group more smug, more falsely confident than Donald Trump and his proposed cabinet. These are a group of people who have not prepared. They haven’t put in the time. They haven’t stayed up late at night wondering about how to measure up to their career. They didn’t even aspire to this career a month or two ago. This has nothing to do with taking on the serious task of administering an important part of our government. This is simply dividing up the spoils of a victory.

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