It’s that spooky time of year when you start to think, “Can I really get all of this done before the holidays?” Don’t worry, you’ve totally got it! Remember that saying no is a wonderful way to shorten your to-do list, and put your tasks on your calendar right away so that you can see how committed your time is already.
I feel like I barely made it through the endless conferences, summits, meetings, and convenings of May with my sanity intact (debatable perhaps). The silver lining was finding a lot of inspiration for these emails. So, let’s talk about a frequent companion at professional gatherings- imposter syndrome.
Merriam Webster defines imposter syndrome as “a false and sometimes crippling belief that one's successes are the product of luck or fraud rather than skill.” As I am sure you know, it’s common among high achievers. Women and under-represented minority groups are also more likely than white men to experience imposter syndrome. The extent of imposter syndrome can range from intermittent discomfort to outright paralysis. There is a lot of advice out there about how to overcome imposter syndrome. I want to talk specifically about how I see it play out at conferences.
It’s February already! Many of us feel discouraged at this time of year. By now our new year’s resolutions have lost their novelty but not their challenge, and it can be difficult to keep up the momentum. Winter weather doesn’t help either! If you’re having difficulty keeping your resolution, check out this interview with my friend and colleague, Dawna Ballard, PhD, a communication scientist at UT Austin. I appreciated her point that our bodies are not in an energized, new-beginning kind of mode in winter, at the time of the Western new year. She notes that most traditional cultures celebrate the new year either in fall or spring, and that these times may better harness our natural rhythms to support change. So, if you’re having a hard time with you latest goal or habit, don’t feel bad. Admit it, re-examine it, and either adjust or recommit from a place of self-compassion.
We are sprinting towards the finish line of 2018, trying to meet our year-end work expectations in the midst of holiday obligations. I find it helpful to remember two things at this time of you: (1) you can’t do everything, and (2) find the fun! I like asking my colleagues what holiday tradition they most enjoy- it reminds us that this time of year is special, if exhausting!
I was recently asked to give a talk about mentorship, which I plan to call “Beyond mentorship and sponsorship: a personal board of directors.” The concept of a personal board of directors is not new (read more here), but it is useful. It resonated with me because it encompasses two key points about mentoring: you need multiple mentors, and you need them throughout your career. Here are some thoughts to get started.
Hope this message finds you all doing well! I can’t believe it’s November already. With the coming Thanksgiving holiday, it seems appropriate to talk about gratitude at work. Though it seems like an optional, warm-and-fuzzy topic, in reality it’s vital to express our gratitude to colleagues. Gratitude strengthens relationships and imparts resilience, and we could all use more of that at work, right?
There was a New York Times article about the science of gratitude earlier this year that concluded that people appreciate expressions of gratitude (specifically emailed thank-you notes) more than the sender thought they would. This sparked my curiosity and I delved a bit more into the literature. Experimental evidence suggests that the most effective thank-you messages are specific, either because they are tied to an action or event, or because they mention a specific trait that you appreciate. A reflexive “great job” is easily shrugged off whereas, “thank you for preparing such a strong draft that I barely had to edit it,” sparks warm feelings. Interestingly, people who express gratitude also experience a mood boost.
I am sending this a bit late because – it’s summer! I’ve enjoyed seeing some of you and meeting others for the first time at our summer Research in Implementation Science for Equity (RISE) program. I was part of a panel discussing social media and academia, and I thought it would be an opportune time to pontificate on this topic. There are many social media beginner’s guides available online (here’s one), and I am confident that all of you can figure out the mechanics. Instead, I hope to share the rationale for using social media, some of my best practices, and pitfalls to avoid. I’ll end by giving you summer homework! (for the new people, aren’t you glad you asked to get these emails?!)
Hope this message finds you well! I am enjoying spring’s creative energy and writing lots of grants.
This month I want to talk about your elevator pitch. This is a 1-3 minute statement about what you work on. Potential audiences for an elevator pitch include future collaborators, employers, mentees, and funders.
Do you feel resistance at the idea of an elevator pitch? I gave a talk about elevator pitches in my friend’s class last year and here are some common concerns and my responses:
Hope this message finds you thriving! This month’s message is inspired by a meeting with a wonderful colleague who was invited for one of our department’s visiting professorships. (I hope I’ve already suggested to all of you that you should always try to get onto the schedule for visiting professors.) He asked me, “What is your brand?” According to my colleague, a brand should capture who you are professionally, not just what you are doing now. This seemed particularly daunting for me since I have varied research and professional interests. However, advice is only good if you act on it, so I started looking into it.
Hope this message finds you all thriving! There is a particular irony about my sharing my advice this month about email. Many of you know that I struggle to keep up with my email. I recently read the book Unsubscribeby Jocelyn Glei, and I learned some new email management strategies. You will have to tell me if you think they are helping!