Yes man

How often do you say “no” to things that would interfere with your goals?

Today’s prompt

Today’s prompt is kinda harsh. It’s somehow a slap in the face with respect to the way I have worked lately. Unfortunately, I feel that I say ‘yes’ to way too many things.

The weird thing is, with the typical academic goals, saying no is rarely an option. Academia is in a sense a bit like a game, where you get judged by the numbers. I don’t necessarily agree with the game, and most of the time I hate the pressure it creates, but I feel very much forced to participate in this game, if I would ever want to land a permanent job in research. (And for now, I feel like I have very few alternatives to this path, as it’s the only thing I’m reasonably good at. If someone sees other paths that fit me, I’d love to hear it.)

It’s a numbers game where you have to do everything.

Publications, speaking gigs, teaching, blogs, podcasts, grant proposals, collaborations for more of all the aforementioned. You name it.

To reach the very uncertain goal of permanence, I feel like I need to say yes to everything.

So I don’t say no to all too many things, but it rarely interferes with my goals, because saying yes may get me there faster.

By the time people get permanence in academia, they often have become so bad at saying no, that they rarely do this. I hope – someday – that I’ll be able to say no to some things again. Until then: I’m a yes man.

(Note: Don’t take this post as an invitation to ask me to do things for you. I will say no! Unless it will get me closer to landing a permanent job, or is a permanent job offer; either of which I wouldn’t say no to.)

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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