Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Hello there my old friend, Mr Doubt

A lot of scientists and writers suffer from the same problem - self doubt. It's most severe form seems to hit high achievers in the form of Imposter's syndrome. How long is it going to be before someone spots I'm a fraud syndrome. As someone who spans both the scientific and creative writing realms I'm not immune, in fact I seem to be more of a sufferer than most of my friends and colleagues. I know I'm a ruddy good writer, know I'm a good scientist, yet somehow when things get tough I get doubting.

So where does it all come from. As I mentioned above, Imposter's syndrome usually hits high achievers. The people who are usually high enough in their training/education or careers that they lack any real guides to tell them they are doing well. (Who's there to tell a professor they are doing well, or to tell them when things are going wrong? ) Of course, some high achievers are able to fly without any looking down. They are the ones who are possibly the real victims. Unable to look at themselves and their work critcally they may oneday come crashing down with a bang.
Maybe the best place to be is in the middle - not crippled by the self doubts but able to acknowledge you are not necessarily the professional person you portray.

One thing which should help all Imposters out there keep that balance is using PDP and goal/acheievment reviews. Take a good look at yourself, be honest and see how well you are doing, or what you have managed. If you are a high flyer, have a serious look at what you could have done better. Hopefully by doing this both high flyers and nervous imposters will be able to obtain the balance which is the best of both worlds.

Advice given, now if only I can take my own advice.