Time and time again, when the Nobel Prizes were announced, one of my friends repeated his theory: you’ve got to stay alive long enough to wait for the prize coming to you. That was just his joke after seeing so many winners are actually over 70 years old. However, it is practical. If you messed up your health or life before the prize committee decide to recognize your work and achievement, who do you blame?
Let’s wake up from the fantasy to the real world, well, the rule still stands: if you are not healthy enough, you are not going to get as much success as others in your career.
One of my former bosses taught me this simple truth: in the industrial/business environment, it is not how smart you are that makes you successful in your whole career, but how healthy and energetic you are. This is true at your early stage of career, and even also true at the mid-age stage of your career.
In our work places, most of us have college degrees. Some masters, some Ph.Ds. Statistically, most people are hardly significantly smarter than others. Most of the people on the same level are exposed to a similar amount of opportunities and responsibilities. Everybody has the intelligence and capability to do a project very well.
But can you do 3 projects well at the same time? Fewer people can.
Can you finish 3 projects well and accept another 3 new projects next month, and just go on like this month after month? Again, fewer people can.
Can you do all the things mentioned above, plus one domestic/international week-long travel every 2 months? Please don’t fall asleep at the important meeting with upper management one day after you return from the conference in London! Again, fewer people can handle this.
Oh wait, I almost forgot. Family. Is your wife/husband happy when you have to bring work home or don’t have time to pick up your kids at school? You just don’t have enough time and energy to accept more work and responsibilities? Do I need to say fewer people again?
The last, but not the least, DO NOT GET SICK!!! Simple. Otherwise, you can do none of things above.
When a great new project comes up, your manager is wondering if you can take it? If you don’t have enough energy to handle it, you are out. Your colleague Jason gets it, finishes it well and reports to the management. Next time, he does the same thing for the same reason. When the promotion moment comes, who gets it? Jason! When the lay-off comes, who gets it? You!
You will find it amazing that it is exactly the same rule in academia. Most of the successful scientists we see are usually in great health. If you are sick or not energetic enough, you can’t teach more students, you can’t participate in more research activities, you can’t attend more conferences, you can’t travel more for grant raising. Again, you want stay alive when they start considering you as a Nobel prize nominate.
We do see great scientists with illness. But how many Stephen Hawkings do we have in the world? Plus, Hawking didn’t get sick when he was rising in his career and getting his reputation.
So, if you are ambitious about your career success, stay healthy! And energetic! As I said, hit the gym today, you will need it.