Humility

The bishop says, “I’m afraid you have a bad egg, Mr. Jones”
”Oh no, my Lord, I assure you that some parts of it are excellent!*”

True_humilityThe thing about humility is that it hardly ever gets you anywhere. In science for instance, it really doesn’t pay to think that most people are smarter than you. For one thing, it inhibits creative flow.
Let’s face it, you have to be a bit of a egomaniac to assume that you can think of something one one else has ever thought of before. Working in science generally means having the working hypothesis that all other scientists in your field now and in the last couple of decades have been wrong and you are the only one who is seeing things straight.          

I think it’s important to realize that people who are less smart than you might apply for the same things (jobs, grants, publication etc.) as you do, and people smarter than you might not. So apply for stuff, even though you think you’re not worthy. And write stuff, even if you think there are a million people who would do a better job of it (well, if it really is million you probably shouldn’t bother).

The other thing is (and I might be stating the obvious here), that all other people are people too. That means they have the same feelings of doubt and their own shortcomings that they try to mask or compensate for. This means even your high and mighty supervisor/boss/*insert relevant authoritative person here* is a person who, despite appearances, is probably just winging it. It also means that you should be sensitive to other peoples humanity, when you expect someone to have all the answers you’re putting them under a huge amount of stress. Your job interviewer is worrying about what to say to you, and what kind of impression he makes on you.

I guess what I’m trying to say is err.., be nice to each other?

Yes, I suppose that’s it. Be nice to each other, and be just as nice to yourself.

*(True Humility” cartoon, by George du Maurier, from Punch November 9, 1895., click picture for wiki on this cartoon)

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