Ever feel as though you are putting in maximal effort, but seeing very slow or little if any gains in your career? Yet, you are seeing some of your colleagues or acquaintances around you take major leaps forward. You start wondering what you are doing wrong and why ‘it’ is happening for everyone else, but not for you?
Remember that as easy as some people make it look, all we see on paper (or online) is the end result. Lacking from the lists of funded grants, publications, and awards is a description of the hours of work and sweat equity a person pours into their job and academic development. But, the natural question is if we are all hard workers why does it happen (and sometimes happen fast) for some while others of us continue to labor for months and sometimes years? After all, have you ever met anyone who said, “You know, I wish I had more to show for my career as an academic surgeon, but I’m really unwilling to work any harder to achieve my goals.”
Serendipity. Fate. Timing. These are intangible factors you can’t count on or expect. I think if you ask any of the academic surgeons many of us view as a paragon in our profession most, if not all, would admit to some degree of providence in their success. Hard work is absolutely necessary to put you in a position to be able to take advantage of opportunities that happen to come your way. But, you never know when lighting will strike. And, if you aren’t paying attention or actively looking, an important opportunity can come at a most unexpected time and go without you even realizing.
I don’t mean to sound overly fatalistic. Hard work absolutely helps to create its own luck and opportunity. But, as John Lennon once said, “There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…”. In the meantime, control what you can control and bide your time until the right opportunity comes your way. Just remember to be patient, be persistent, and be confident that success is out there looking for all of us just as much as we are looking for it.