Emerging Superachiever?

I received an electronic newsletter earlier this week.  In it, Dr. Sally summarized the common traits of academic superachievers. She was referring to their level of scholarly productivity – in other words, how much some researchers contribute to a given knowledge base in comparison to others. Those who are extremely productive are superachievers, and they have five things in common: passion, planning, persistence, perspective and partnerships.

Academic superachievers are excited about their work. They have long-range plans and short-range objectives. They never give up, they maintain a youthful spirit, and they collaborate.

Although I feel good about who I am and what I’ve done, I’m not an academic superachiever. I’m at the emerging end of the achievement scale, and quite frankly, I’ve spent more time debating my interest in being on the scale than engaging in the work. There are lots of reasons for this, including my attitudes about academia as a culture, as well as my ever-changing, sometimes wildly divergent interests.  But the newsletter arrived at a time when I’m reevaluating where I am professionally and where I’d like to go from here.

Self reflecting, I find two items on Dr. Sally’s list worthy of deeper investigation, and one in particular, planning, seems it will be the key to my moving forward.

As a teenager I planned everything. I made lists, I had long-range calendars. I planned out my entire high school course of study the summer before my freshman year. I planned most of my college career promptly upon arrival. But soon after graduation, I started living and working more spontaneously, with less interest in long-term outcomes.

Both approaches served me well for a time, but now I’ve arrived in a season for strategy. Goal-setting works well for me. It circumvents my tendency to waver or succumb to momentary bouts of overwhelm. It keeps me moving steadily when I would just as easily be ruled by waxing and waning passions and scattered thinking. I say all of this in honest reflection of my personality traits. I’ve never been one to think negatively of myself, yet there’s always room for growth.

I have some exciting things underway. I’m going to spend some time channeling Focused Buddha, and develop/update my 5-year, annual, and weekly plans. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence. ~Frederick Douglass

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