Editor’s Note: Members of the TSK Mental Health Taskforce: October Ivins; former SSP President (2008-2009), Ryan Reeh; Senior Digital Publishing Strategist (AAP), and Adrian Stanley; independent publishing consultant, had a fireside chat with Sarah Durrant; independent coach and transformational teacher.

In 2012 Sarah Durrant founded her consulting practice, Lead from Within, following a successful career in scholarly publishing. Initially her consultancy offered leadership coaching and later added further coaching, webinars and short courses on overcoming imposter syndrome. The fireside chat will be available in two posts which will each have two segments put together by our video expert Ryan Reeh the videos will have transcripts available for each segment.

This first post will contain Segment one: The problematic use of the term “Imposter Syndrome” (18 minutes) explaining its link to a person’s physical responses to stress or danger. Sarah explains imposter syndrome as a constellation of thoughts and emotions – physical, behavioral and existential. All “imposters have in common a distorted, unrealistic, unsustainable definition of competence.” (Valerie Young) How it correlates with anxiety, depression and low self-esteem; it is often characterized by the ‘Draining P’s’ – procrastination, perfectionism and and people pleasing’. This is linked to survival behaviors (fight, flight, freeze or fawn) and can build on early life trauma (small T).

Segment 2: The demographics of imposter syndrome and strategies to counter the shame or discomfort it can produce (25 minutes). Sarah reframes the term toxic masculinity as toxic invulnerability. In a culture where authenticity isn’t valued but invulnerability is, imposter syndrome thrives. Losing a degree of autonomy can create stress that triggers survival behavior. Think of imposter syndrome as one end of a spectrum that includes healthy self-doubt. Studies show that 70% of people experience imposter syndrome. If you don’t think you do have imposter syndrome, consider: do you have a harsh inner critic? Do you second guess yourself or feel you’re not good enough? Ways to address this include some advocated by Brene Brown, such as ‘ABC – Awareness Brings Choice’. Instead of feeling isolated (“it’s just me”) change that to “me too”, which brings empathy for yourself and others. You don’t need to squash your inner critic, instead meet it with unconditional positive regard and love. Neurologically, this allows the prefrontal cortex to come back online with generative and resourceful energies such as curiosity, calmness, creativity and the ability to connect with other people. However, a cognitive approach may not work when childhood experiences are encoded. In those instances it could be better to change your orientation – look around to see that you are safe. Visualize past successes and how that felt.

Be sure to check out the second part of the conversation in tomorrow’s post. We hope you enjoy the conversation as much as we did and find useful advice for yourself, others and your organization. Please leave comments (open or anonymous) on the post, let us know what resonated the most with you.

A full transcript of the video below is also available.

October Ivins

October Ivins first encountered SSP as a speaker in 1989.  SSP supported her through multiple career changes, and she chaired the Education Committee and then the Marketing Committee before serving two Board terms and was elected President for 2008/09. She chaired the Organizational Collaboration Committee and received the Distinguished Service Award in 2013. As an independent consultant for sixteen years, October assisted publishers and other content providers, associations, libraries, and consortia.  October was an executive at two Boston area publishing services startups before becoming a consultant.  She is a past president of NASIG and was an active member of ALCTS, a division of the American Library Association.

Ryan Reeh

Ryan is Senior Digital Publishing Strategist at American Academy of Pediatrics. Previously he worked for The Strategic Management Society as Senior Publications & Content Strategy Manager, and the American Association of Individual Investors as Assistant Editor/Program Manager. He has a Masters in Professional Studies in Publishing from George Washington University.

Adrian Stanley

Adrian is an independent consultant with over 30 years experience working in scholarly publishing, prior to starting his own consultancy company, he was the General Manager for JMIR Publications, Canada’s largest open access publisher. Adrian is also a past President for the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP), former Managing Director at Digital Science, CEO of the Charlesworth Group (USA), an Associate Editor for Learned Publishing Journal, and has been an active volunteer and advisor for industry organization such as STM Association, Council of Science Editors, Directory of Open Access Journals, ORCID, DataSeer.ai, Canadian Association of Learned Journals (CALJ) and the Association for Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP).


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