Wednesday, March 20, 2019

In Praise of the Imposter Syndrome: "Accept yourself" is a destructive fad.

Today’s motivational gurus are hell-bent on boosting our self-esteem: “We’re okay just as we are.”  “We are worthy just by virtue of being human.” “There's genius in all of us!" Hah! 

Thinking you’re great is a fast way to ensure you stagnate, probably in mediocrity...or worse—There’s no need to work on growing if you already think you’re fine.

A common manifestation of low self-esteem is the Imposter Syndrome: You have a degree that says you’re a qualified professional but you feel you aren’t one. That’s often an accurate assessment because school-based training, often longer on theory and arcana than on practice and essentials, can easily leave you less than real-world competent. That’s why, for example, many law firms provide extensive post-law-school training for their newly hired lawyers.

The answer to the imposter syndrome is not to dismiss it. My article today tells what to do instead.

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Fun and Benefits of Type-A Behavior

A 1959 journal article reported that Type A behavior—what’s often called “hurry sickness” and a tendency to get angry, increases risk of cardiovascular disease. 

But a more recent review of the literature in the American Journal of Public Health  found that a number of follow-up studies failed to confirm the claim. The authors of that review concluded that studies prominently reporting that link between Type-A behavior and heart disease were funded by the tobacco industry as a way to deflect attention from cigarette smoking causing heart disease.

It may nevertheless still be that, when the, ahem, smoke clears, Type-A behavior, especially its angry variant, will be shown to at least modestly contribute to cardiovascular disease. And there’s little doubt that an angry personality usually results in ostracism and less influence.

But rather than dismissing Type-A behavior as such a bad characteristic that all efforts should be made to quell it, it might be worth considering its upsides. I outline them in my article today.

Knowing When to Decide

My just-concluded career counseling session motivated me to write my article today

My client has a PhD and is looking for a post-doc in a narrow specialty. He believes that eventually, he needs to reach out to some of the field’s heavy hitters to get guidance as to where to turn but, week after week now, he continues to do more research to try to figure out who the right people are. He’s still not sure. He admits this is a manifestation of his lifelong problem with excessive rumination and inadequate action.

By the end of the session, he felt far more optimistic he can ameliorate his problem. My article today. offers lessons he learned in that session. They're applicable to personal as well as professional life.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Create Your Solo Show: How, and why you should even if you never perform it.

One of my life’s more rewarding experiences has been to create my autobiographical one-man show, Odd Man Out.

My article today explains, step-by-step, how I did it and you might too.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Choosing a Career: An unconventional approach

Most people end up in their career sub-optimally:
  • They fall into their careers by chance.
  • They pick from a few common choices: doctor lawyer, teacher, electrician, psychologist, etc.
  • With a career advisor, human, video, computer, or text, they inventory, abilities, skills, interests (if they have them, passions), and values.
The latter approach would seem optimal but it’s not:
  • It too often yields unrealistic goals—For example, the person dreams of making a solid living as an environmentalist, performer, sports executive, or visual artist. Unless you’re brilliant, talented, connected, or dogged, ideally all the above, they'll why the words “starving” and “artist” so often adjoin.
  • Most careers don’t require a narrowly constrained set of attributes. For example, there are introverted and extroverted psychotherapists, brilliant and merely workmanlike ones, sciencey and feeling-oriented ones.
  • There are tens of thousands of careers, most that have many variants. Even with a computer to screen careers, you’ll be (not very validly) matched to a few from just a few hundred. Much better fits could remain buried.
A better way?
In my article today, I offer an approach that would seem to balance ease with accuracy.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

In Search of Wisdom: My 13 favorite ideas.

It would be hubristic of me to assert that these attempts at wisdom have reached that high bar, but my Psychology Today article today offers my best shots.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Developing a Winning Personality

Even some brilliant people suffer professionally and personally from the lack of a likeable personality.

And some such people don’t care: “I don’t want to play their silly games.” But if you do care to, as the classic book, said, “win friends and influence people,” perhaps one or more of the tips I offer in my article today will help: