Monday, November 12, 2012

Killing comparisons

It is a natural human tendency to compare oneself to ones peers.
I suggest that this can be quite unhelpful for your mental health and for harmonious relationships.
A natural consequence of such comparisons may be discouragement or hubris depending on your personality.

Grad students and postdocs may compare hours worked, numbers of papers, number of interviews, numbers of invited conference talks, attention from their advisor....

Faculty may compare total funding, size of their latest grant, numbers of students, size of office, speed of promotion, h-index, lab space, ...
This can lead to bitterness and friction.

When I was younger I struggled due to making such comparisons. Mostly they led to unnecessary anxiety and discouragement. Furthermore, with hindsight my "metrics" turned out to be pretty irrelevant indicators of future success [i.e. survival] in science. I never considered luck, perseverance, flexibility, passion, communication and personal skills...

Now I am careful not to make comparisons. I don't think they help anyone.
I urge you not to make comparisons. Your mental health may be much the better for it.

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