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Unveiling the impostor: How to deal with lack of self-confidence in academia? Loïc Le Tiran IAG/USP May 12 th, 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "Unveiling the impostor: How to deal with lack of self-confidence in academia? Loïc Le Tiran IAG/USP May 12 th, 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 Unveiling the impostor: How to deal with lack of self-confidence in academia? Loïc Le Tiran IAG/USP May 12 th, 2014

2 Le club des imposteurs : Faire face au manque de confiance en soi dans le milieu académique. Loïc Le IAG – Université de São Paulo 1 er octobre 2014

3 Disclaimer I am not a psychologist. All this is documented, but necessarily quite subjective. Feel free to ask anything during the talk

4 Academia: a fulfilling life… Mastery Autonomy Purpose About Mastery, Autonomy, Purpose: See

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7 "We need to start recognizing that mental health is not a matter of crazy vs. sane. It's a matter of happy vs. unhappy, productive vs. destructive, and no different than physical well-being.“ from

8 Why is this subject is important for ALL of us?

9 Why is confidence important? To feel good about yourself. To apply to a high-level position To ask questions To discuss To go to (and enjoy!) conferences It helps to avoid procrastination Can lead to success, by helping you to step out from your comfort zone

10 At least a positive point? Over-preparation Professional success? Lack of confidence

11 At least a positive point? Over-preparation Professional success? Less time for the rest: Family, friends, hobbies, and other aspects of work… Lack of confidence Debatable…

12 The impostor phenomenon Lack of confidence in academia (also called impostor feelings or often impostor syndrome) Let’s put a name on this.

13 Psychotherapy Theory, Research and Practice Volume 15, #3, Fall 1978

14 Some (redundant) definitions “A distorted, unrealistic, unsustainable definition of competence” “An overwhelming sense of being a fraud, a phony, of not being good enough for your job, despite much evidence to the contrary” “Believing that one’s accomplishments came about not through genuine ability, but as a result of having been lucky, having worked harder than others, and having manipulated other people’s impressions.”

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16 I thought it was a fluke, It was the same way when I walked on the campus at Yale. I thought everybody would find out, and they'd take the Oscar back. They'd come to my house, knocking on the door, “Excuse me, we meant to give that to someone else. That was going to Meryl Streep.”

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18 Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie? And I don't know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?

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20 I have written eleven books, but each time I think, “uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”

21 Feel like an impostor? Take the Do you chalk your success up to luck, timing, or computer error? Do you believe “If I can do it, anybody can”? Do you agonize over even the smallest flaws in your work? Are you crushed by even constructive criticism, seeing it as evidence of your “ineptness?” When you do succeed, do you secretly feel like you fooled them again? Do you worry that it’s just a matter of time before you’re “found out?” Credits:

22 How you explain a success: “I got lucky” “I was in the right place at the right time” “It’s because they like me” “If I can do it, anyone can” “They must let anybody in” “Someone made a mistake” “I had a lot of help” “They are just being nice” “They feel sorry for me” Credits:

23 How you explain a success: “I got lucky” “I was in the right place at the right time” “It’s because they like me” “If I can do it, anyone can” “They must let anybody in” “Someone made a mistake” “I had a lot of help” “They are just being nice” “They feel sorry for me” Credits: Where are you?

24 Dr. Sarah Kendrew, Oxford (sarahaskew.net) In my first few years as a postdoc I suffered massively from Impostor Syndrome in the same way that is described by so many others: fear, anxiety, insecurity, frustration. Credits for this slide: Prof. Meghan Grey

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26 How to be confident “When I lack confidence, I stop lacking confidence and be awesome instead”. Doesn’t work in real life (except for Barney Stinson*) (*who is not a real life caracter, by the way)

27 How to be confident Having someone shouting at you: “be confident!” Seriously, Barney Stinson’s method is way better.

28 How to be confident There is no magic potions, but many tips.

29 Toolbox: First Tip Embrace your impostor! Talk about it! &

30 Toolbox: Second Tip Own your achievements. Make list of your achievements (pride list, +linkedin, CV…) Ask other people what you are good at. (+Mentorship) Learn to separate feelings from reality

31 Toolbox: Third Tip Listen (really!) & Watch your language! Own your compliments: Internalize external validation and stop minimizing your achievements Don’t diminish yourself! “Only”, “Just”, “I’m not a real…”

32 Toolbox: Others tips Teach! “I don’t know” is a valid answer Everyone has the right to make mistakes Failure is an option Happy folder List your typical impostor situations Down your armour Values Affirmation Fake it till you make it!

33 Toolbox: Power Posing

34 A last one… but sometimes crucial Ask yourself: “is it me or the organizational structure is screwed up?”

35 For everyone, a general rule Feel bad, sad, depressed, unhappy? Whatever the reason, seek counseling.

36 Conclusion LEARN to enjoy your academic life NOW!

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38 Please “helpful”, “stupid”, “a total waste of my time”, “best talk ever”, “I slept after slide 2”… Please give me some feedback! (even anonymously!) Wanna discuss? Office C-312, my door is always open, at least metaphorically.

39 Questions/Discussion

40 Bibliography Links, blogs, facebook groups, books, games, ideas, papers. Currently on:

41 Quelques mots sur AUDDAS ? Role central sur l evolution du doctorat (en astro) La question de l epanouissement : se sortir les doigts du cul. Enjeux professionnels sont lies aux conditions de travail: si on se rend compte qu il y a plein de choses formidables a faire dans sa vie apres un doctorat en astro, on est moins paniques par la peur de ne pas avoir d’avenir Mettre a la fin plutôt ? + slides frustration.

42 Who? / Where? Women Minorities First-generation professionals … Academia Arts CEOs Gender/colour dominated environments (ex: women in tech) …

43 “Brazilians don’t apply enough to prestigious fellowships”

44 Institutional?Lack of confidence?

45 Why us? Why me? Parental education? School? Institution? (esp. isolation) Colleagues/Manager? The nature of our work?

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47 Why is confidence important? Feeling good about yourself. You put the bar always higher (better faster stronger). It is difficult and it leads to the feeling of failure. Not applying for a post doc in a brilliant institution thinking “I am not good enough” Not asking a question “I don’t know enough to ask a question” Not sharing an interesting comment “my comment is not interesting enough” Not going to a conference (you have not made enough progress yet) Not publishing a paper (your work is not good enough) Nervousness about talking to others in their field, especially if those others are perceived as highly skilled/experienced Lack of confidence can also be a competitive advantage: it pushes you try thing better because you feel you are not up to the others. But you can’t let it cripple you! Working too hard (over preparing) is good sometimes but bad for life balance... Procrastination (can also take the form of somebody who is always reading litterature, and/or missing its real work. esp staying in the comfort zone, the zone of no danger, no risk.) success in any career often requires stepping outside your comfort zone, so it's important not to let your fear of failure get in the way. You may choose a lower level job because you think it will be easier for you to manage. You take constructive criticism as condemnation: – - When things go wrong, I automaticallky blame myself – - When I make amistake, I have a really hard time forgiving myself – - I often walk away from conversation obsessing over what I should have said, or failed ro say. – - I remember every dumb thing I ever did or said. – - I take constructive criticism personnaly, seeing it as a proof of my ineptness.

48 Lack of confidence can also be a competitive advantage: it pushes you try thing better because you feel you are not up to the others. But you can’t let it cripple you!

49 Tips: Own your achievements Make list of things you [are/should/people consider you should be] proud of. Facts. remind them to you. Discuss it with friends. - Learn to own your success. -1 Write down your different success, awards, things that you succeeded in doing. Only the facts. -2 Aknoledge the fact that luck, charm etc plays a role. They were here, but you took advantage of it. - ask other people what you are good at? find a mentor, a trusting friend, which can guide you, sometimes (constructively) criticize, or recognize your successes. = feedback -Keep track of your accomplishments (linkedin, CV…) Ask people to recommend you on linkedin. Ask advice for things to put on your CV from people that know you well. Separate feelings from reality. Remind yourself that feeling like an imposter is different from being an imposter. Keep a written record of your accomplishments. Feel a sense of ownership for them.

50 Own your compliments and praises : say thank you, not “let me explain why I don’t deserve this compliment” Learn to internalize external validation.- Stop minimizing your achievements. When someone congratulates you, say “thank you”, not “it wa sshitty right?”. watch your language. “Only”, “Just” are diminishing! And you end up beleiving what you are saying. “I am not a REAL xxxx”.

51 Others tips teach what you know (and what you don’t know~) : it forces you to realize that you know things. + outreach Dare say you don’t know something. happy folder Make a list of the situations in which “imposter” feelings are likely to strike. When you can warn yourself to expect these feelings, they’re easier to recognize and deal with. Try to break frightening tasks into several parts. If possible, start with the easiest part. - give a talk about the IS ?

52 Be supportive with the others - : + Talk, blog, share experience, esp if you are senior. + Correct the others when they misrepresent their experience as less than it is. + linkedin recommendation + offer help the others (you know well) in writting their CVs + Encourage others to accept opportunities and challenges they are qualified for.


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