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.

Following on from Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: A Fireside Chat with Sarah Durrant, Lead from Within (Parts 1 & 2), parts 3 & 4 today contain the final segments in the discussion.

Segment three: It’s Not Just You (13 minutes). Segment three further explores the fears and assumptions around imposter syndrome and how it can be considered a binary – all or nothing – fight, flight, negotiate, or freeze. Sarah discusses how reorientation restores some balance and how people she has worked with in classes and coaching all want to achieve more confidence. You don’t have to struggle alone – identify a trusted friend or colleague to share your imposter syndrome stories with. Many talented people have experienced this including Neil Armstrong, Michele Obama, Meryl Streep, and Albert Einstein. Western culture promotes the image of the hero or the self-made man, but we are arguably a highly social species wired for connection. Further discussed is vulnerability and sharing uncomfortable feelings. The discussion considers the possible interchangeability of vulnerable and authentic (But be careful, an unsupportive reaction to sharing can be re-traumatizing.) Take on the challenge in small steps, build on the successes.

The final segment, Segment four, addresses the impact of hierarchical structures on imposter syndrome (12 minutes), covers recommendations for systemic changes, and suggestions for an individual to gather the courage to ask questions to address and overcome imposter syndrome. There is further discussion on how hierarchical structures restrict flexibility and how smaller organizations can arguably promote ‘power with’ rather than ‘power over’ and promote safety, belonging and dignity.

What we want to support is a safe environment to allow people to come to their own solutions. When a culture rewards extroverted tendencies, it is difficult for people with more introverted tendencies. We want to tap into people’s potential by giving positive reinforcement to counter feelings of imposter syndrome. Safe and safety are key terms during the discussion and how it is massively important in mammals. In the work environment, if we want people to engage in work as individuals or groups with curiosity, creativity, and clarity, these are all actions within the prefrontal cortex, the most recently evolved part of the brain.

A culture that values trust, honesty and authenticity without shaming or punishment, either overt or covert, is needed. It’s important to create safety, trust and connection to support the inherent dignity of everyone. We need to look for more mindful and holistic leadership from everyone.

We hope you enjoy the conversation as much as we did and find useful advice for yourself, and others and for your organization. Please leave comments (open or anonymous) on the post, let us know what resonated.

A full transcript of the video below is 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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