If you experience Imposter syndrome it might not be fierce all the time, it might come in waves. Everyone has their own triggers. For me, it’s ‘newness’ – doing things for the first time, figuring out new technology, working with a new person/organisation, sending my words out into the world for the first time (I’m in good company with the newness trigger, check out Brene Brown’s podcast on FFTs!). Researchers I work with also describe other common triggers such as:
- taking on new responsibilities,
- a significant professional success,
- leadership situations,
- speaking up in meetings,
- being called on for your expertise,
- publishing and talking about your work,
- teaching something new,
- making comparisons with colleagues.
In academia, where the work is complex, the stakes high and the competition fierce, there really is a veritable smorgasbord of potential imposter syndrome triggers, which is why it’s one of the most common themes in our coaching sessions regardless of discipline or career stage.
Whilst imposter thoughts are indeed normal human cognitions, the problems arise when the thoughts ‘hook’ you in. If you start buy into those thoughts, they may start to negatively govern your actions and cause you to engage in behaviours that, whilst potentially removing short-term discomfort, result in negative long-term consequences for you professionally and/or personally. See if you recognise any of the behaviours listed here, if you do there’s a good chance the Imposter Gremlin (more on him later) might have a grip on you.