The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Imposters at the ISA?

March 29, 2014

Long ago, Dan Drezner posted about the imposter syndrome.  The basic idea is that many folks feel as if they will be found out, that there are other folks out there that are smarter, more informed and that one is just getting away with being less than that until eventually getting found out.

That piece resonated with me way back then, and it was funny to hear multiple people raise it this week in Toronto at the ISA.  I suddenly realized why this might be the case: there are so many impressive people doing impressive stuff that everyone seems better, more expert and so on, so more folks feel as if they are imposters.  I have long said that there is always a bigger fish (thanks to Phantom Menace, yuck).

Well, I got to hang out with some really sharp folks, who are so ambitious, creative, responsible, aware and engaged that when I hear them utter the imposter syndrome stuff, I am really struck.  one could attend these conferences and be paralyzed by fear of being found out, paralyzed by how much more impressive these other folks are.  Or one can be inspired.  I know that I will never be as impressive as these folks, but they do inspire me to be more aware, to figure out what my impact can be, to do better, and be more helpful to others.

Of course, there is only one song to invoke here:

website | + posts

Steve Saideman is Professor and the Paterson Chair in International Affairs at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. He has written The Ties That Divide: Ethnic Politics, Foreign Policy and International Conflict; For Kin or Country: Xenophobia, Nationalism and War (with R. William Ayres); and NATO in Afghanistan: Fighting Together, Fighting Alone (with David Auerswald), and elsewhere on nationalism, ethnic conflict, civil war, and civil-military relations.