Monday, 8 February 2016

ECR Network: 'Imposter Syndrome' and 'Resilience'

Dr Caron Fraser Wood
The next two Early Career Researcher Network events this term will be run by Dr Caron Fraser Wood of Mindset Method, and will look at ‘Imposter Syndrome’ and how to develop resilience. We ran the imposter syndrome session last year, and it was oversubscribed and very well received. You can attend either of these or both, but do let me know whether you would like to come as places are strictly limited.

They’re free, open to all Kent staff, and refreshments, including lunch, will be provided. More detail on the sessions is below, and I look forward to hearing from you.

How to Overcome ‘Imposter Syndrome’

It’s very easy to feel like an ‘imposter’ when you’re starting out in academia. Prof Ruth Barcan wrote about this in Times Higher Education in 2014: “many of my colleagues (especially women) gave out subtle signs that they did not feel they were up to the job—almost as though they had been employed in error and would sooner or later be found out.”

This is known as the Imposter Syndrome and symptoms include:
  • Secretly worrying that others will find out that you're not as bright and capable as they think you are
  • Shying away from challenges because of nagging self-doubt 
  • Hating to make a mistake, to be less than fully prepared or doing things less than perfectly

These are classic symptoms and are understandable.  The good news is that we are far from alone, and there is plenty that we can do to overcome the situation. 

This pragmatic and highly participative workshop will ensure that participants become more aware of the syndrome, how it affects them, and what they can do to make sure that the effects are appropriate, managed and do not adversely affect performance.  Participants will leave with an understanding of some practical tools and techniques to enable them to manage their experiences of the Imposter Syndrome, ensuring that self-esteem, confidence and performance do not suffer as a result.

Developing Resilience

Working in academia is one of the most rewarding, and most challenging, ways of working that you can ever undertake. Initially it can be full of excitement and learning, yet as you get further into the academic process it can become much harder to retain your enthusiasm and motivation in the face of looming deadlines, conflicting priorities, difficult results and increasing pressure to succeed. Currently there are ever increasing financial pressures on academics and academic institutions.

At the heart of our ability to do well in these ‘do more with less’ times is our own personal resilience; we have never needed to be more resilient than when we are faced with the prospect of not just surviving but of thriving in our jobs and careers.

Resilience can be defined as the ability to spring back after being bent, stretched or compressed, and for people it is often described as the ability to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions. That is of course easy to say, but significantly harder to translate into robust, consistent and sustained resilient behaviours.

In this session we will explore the concept of resilience; the set of skills and attributes that allow people to do really well in the situations that can sometimes cause others to flounder. We will look at the key characteristics of resilience, and some of the techniques that you can use to increase your own resilience, and support the resilience of others, in the context of taking control of your working day.

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