Even as we face major upheaval in our lives, social interactions and health, I am noticing some bright spots.
It’s reminded me what really matters among all the things we have and often take for granted. We are now homeschooling our kids and they are loving it (well only two days in, but so far so good!). The homeschooling is a real break from the rush of the school-commute-work-repeat routine. I’m getting to spend stacks of quality time with my children, and they seem very happy because of that.
I’m really learning things about them that I hadn’t noticed before, like how interested my eldest child is in moths.
More generally, its broadened my perspective on my career. Over the past year or so I’ve been making the transition from individual researcher to team leader. Overall that has been a joy. Watching early career researchers learn and develop their own scientific questions is one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had in my career.
But it also hasn’t always been easy for me. I’ve often felt pushed for time. I’ve tried to maintain my own scientific identity and productivity, as well as put time into supporting this team. I don’t get to do as much actual research myself as I’d like to, because there are so many meetings, emails and admin to do.
Sometimes our research interests align. Sometimes they diverge and I need to put aside my own interests in order to best support you achieving your own goals.
I’ve faced this transition to team leader with a growth mindset. This has been inspired by outstanding mentors and also the excellent books of Jennifer Garvey Berger.
Current events have really challenged my ‘growth mindset’. But, in truth, there is plenty of growing we can do.
For me, if anything, this has really pushed me to focus even more on being a leader of scientists, rather than just a scientist. I feel less concerned about my own research goals now and more focused on supporting careers, PhD completions and healthy lives of my team.
I’ve never felt more grateful to be part of this amazing research team. We are lucky to have a close network of support in our team and I think our connections will endure, even as we are forced into online life. For me too, thinking of ways to strengthen our group further has been a very positive distraction from all the bad news out there.
It’s hard to be optimistic right now and I’m not sure what other opportunities for growth this global situation will present. But there are sure to be many. So let’s keep our eyes and minds open to them.
Yours truly, Chris