Whole-hearted scientist: Is this possible?

I am reading Brene Brown’s new book:  Rising Strong.  So much of it is relevant to working as a scientist that I will blog about the book in the future.  I thought I would revisit the tenets of her whole hearted living to examine how these might relate to life as a scientist/professor.

1.  Letting go of what people think.  This is a hard one to get around in science.  We are constantly getting feedback (anonymous) on our work through peer review of our papers and grants.  

2.  Letting go of perfectionism.  I definitely have worked hard on this in my role at Yale.  Its hard to not be awesome at everything I do.  But I am learning to be gentle with myself so that I improve.  I am a work in progress.

3.  Letting go of numbing and powerlessness.  I am pretty much in the game so for me this isn’t something I do regularly.  I think the grant rejections and potential to run out of money in the lab brought be to a powerless place.  

4.  Letting go of fear of the dark.   Being brave and vulnerable is going to bring you amazing places but first it will bring you into the dark.  In every research project that discovers something new, the dark is there.  Working through the dark is what rising strong is about…more later.

5.  Letting go of the need for certainty.  Oh boy, certainty.  I have no idea if the ideas I offer to my students are going to pan out.  I have no idea if I am going to get a grant this year.  This job is all about uncertainty.  Its scary but part of the process of discovering exciting new things about life.

6.  Letting go of comparison.  This is hard for me.  Its also hard when I know that my tenure process will require that referees compare me to other people in the field.  What is that about?  Why can’t people judge my work on its own?  I need to not do this for myself. I am on my own journey.

7.  Letting go of productivity as self-worth.  I have found that sitting still is when good ideas pop into my head. But its hard to think if you have “nothing to show for yourself”: experiments aren’t working, papers are rejected etc that you are doing a good job.  Productivity is not always linear.

8.  Letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle.  Hmmm…yes.  need to breath more.

9.  Letting go of self-doubt and “supposed to”.  I struggle with this.  I am constantly working on strategies to deter the voice in my head that says things like “This is not good enough”