Lemuel A. Moyé, III, M.D., Ph.D.
The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Good afternoon. I'd like to welcome you to the noon seminar today on behalf of the Faculty Development Program and also on behalf of the Postdoctoral Association. Our speaker today is Dr. Moye and Dr. Moye is a Professor and Convener in Biometry at the University of Texas, Houston University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Houston Health Science Center and Community Health Sciences and Biometry and also holds an M.D. from Indiana University School of Medicine. He has a national reputation in the execution of multinational clinical trials and has received numerous awards, some of which are peer recognition for outstanding scholarship award and also he received for several years the outstanding new faculty award from the University of Texas, School of Public Health. Dr. Moye has over ten million dollars in funding and has an extensive publishing record in the areas of cardiology and stroke prevention. And I bring to you today Dr. Moye who will give us a seminar on Professionalism for Junior Faculty for Timings in Junior Faculty.
Am I on? Okay. Thank you very much for that kind introduction. I wanted to do research before I knew what research was. My first job was as a janitor at Sears & Roebuck. Now it's just known as Sears, then it was known as Sears and Roebuck. I got a 15-minute break in the morning, 15-minute break in the afternoon, and an hour lunch break. I would spend the hour trying to find the research department at Sears. Just trying to understand, I assumed that they did research there, so I was trying to understand what their research was and hopefully I could take some, be some part of it. Now, I was a 16-year-old student in high school. I wanted to do research all my life, still enjoy doing research, but I am troubled by a few things that I have seen, some observations I have made along the way, in conversations I have had with junior faculty who are also interested in being involved in research. I want to share some of that with you today. So, what we'll talk about first is whether productivity is the sole core, the sole important feature, the single most important element and perhaps the only element of being a professional.
We'll talk a little bit about instructing and encouraging character development and exactly what that means and developing an ethical outlook and also encouraging some leadership skills among junior faculty and trainees. We are no longer in the traditional environment in science. Traditional environment in science has lasted for almost 2000 years, came to an end about 15 years ago. In the traditional environment, there were measured pauses. There was an opportunity to do, to think carefully, to pause, to cerebrate, to speak with others, to take the time it took to develop new good ideas. Now, I have a confession. I as a father who has raised a teenage daughter, I've learned that I should never begin a sentence with the words, when I was, because when I say that I mean to give it as a preamble to I'm now going to share with you some experience I had that would help to make your life little less troubled that's what I mean to convey, but what is received is now comes a message that was of value in the land and age of the dinosaurs, but is of no real value now. As an undergraduate student at Johns Hopkins, we took computing courses, we had 30 seconds of computer time allocated to us for the entire semester.
You had to, if you only have that amount of time, you have to think very carefully about the work you're going to do because the computer time is a precious resource. Commonly we would submit a deck of cards as our job and we would have to sit down and wait for an hour or two to get the results of the computer run and as I am sitting there as a junior undergraduate, here is a professor of biochemistry sitting next to me doing nothing but waiting. Here is also a freshmen student doing nothing but waiting and we had the natural opportunity to speak, to learn about each other, to share philosophies, to get some sense outside of ourselves as to what was important for us to be doing and what was not so important. There are no such natural pauses now. We are in a very new environment. Many of you know when you travel, you go to the airport now, you have, may be you all do it too, I know that I do it sometimes, I get to the airport, if I have 45 minutes, out comes the laptop with a palm and I'm busy working away on that until I have to close it and get on the plane. When I get on the plane, I try to get some sleep till we get to 10,000 feet and I can open up the palm and my laptop and get to work again. So, an amazing environment.
We can work anywhere, but what's happened is that we've allowed that to mean that we work everywhere and similarly with communication and time, we can work anytime, you know, at 3:30 in the morning, my computer is connected to the internet, ready and able to get going. We can work anytime, but we have allowed that to mean that we can work all of the time. So, there has been a huge increase in the science dissemination, the productivity dissemination environment. It used to be that the science dissemination environment was the rate limiting step. It made no sense to try to publish a paper every month if there were only one or two good journals in your field. It made no sense to try to travel every month to present a paper if there are only one or two major meetings every year, but now the number of journals has exploded. The number of meetings, the number of venues for presenting results has increased dramatically. We have a huge increase in computing capacity, lots of ability to publish now and the internet of course is an ever growing source of information for the scientists and these are all presented appropriately to junior faculty and trainees as the opportunity to be productive.
These are all tools that are at your beck and call for you to use. The problem is the philosophy that we bring to this has not changed. The philosophy we bring to this that opportunity is rare, computing tools are rare, and therefore, when they are in operation, when they are available, we should take every opportunity to use them. But if they are available all the time, we can no longer afford the leisure of the old philosophy. So the system is no longer the rate limiting step for us. The system does not limit us, we are the rate limiting step. My computers are on 24 hours a day, maybe I'm using them six or seven hours a day. Okay. Most times my computers are going unused, they are not being productive, okay. You can work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in your research, in your clinics, in your labs, you can work publishing, you can work presenting, you can work proselytizing, you can work propagandizing, you can do that 24 x 7, ignore yourselves, ignore your families, and you will still miss the opportunity to be productive.
That to me begs the question, is productivity are goal? Maybe productivity, it made sense for productivity to be the goal 50 years ago when you couldn't be that productive. Now that you can sacrifice yourself to productivity, you have to ask the question is the sacrifice worthwhile? So, we have this promise of a greater opportunity to pursue a scientific goal with this great wealth of new tools. You can maximize your productivity, but the pervasive message to junior scientists is that if you are not busy using these tools then you are not busy being productive. Whatever else you are doing is subserving it to your being productive, and unfortunately, this pervasive message in the twenty-first century is a dangerously unbalanced one and because it implies that we need to be busy and productive all the time. The career goal of, I'm a statistician so I write like a statistician, the career goal of statisticians, in fact the career goal of scientists is not just raw productivity. My career goal has never been fortunately never should be the relentless pursuit of productivity at all costs, okay. My goal and I would suggest that you consider having your goal as being not the pursuit of productivity, but the pursuit of professionalism and professionalism has an important core.
The requirement to be productive. If any of you think that or if you leave this seminar with the message that productivity is not important, then I have done you a disservice. I believe productivity is very important, I believe in being productive as a junior faculty, as a senior faculty, this afternoon when I go back to my office across the street, I'm going to be productive, but it is not my overarching goal all the time to be productive. There are other core principles in being a professional than just raw productivity. And what are they? They are collegiality, they are having good standards of practice, developing good judgment, benevolence, a sense of charity, and a sense of leadership, those are also important core principles of professionalism and if your goal is to be a professional then you cannot concentrate on one of those all the time to the exclusion of the other. It would be a mistake for a junior faculty or trainee to spend all of their time trying to develop leadership principles and not worry about productivity. We all recognize that as a mistake.
The reverse is also the mistake, focusing solely on productivity to the exclusion of these other core goals. Character development and the development of these other core principles does not go hand in hand with productivity. It is not a natural consequence of productivity. There is kind of a sense of how science centered that if you are productive then all other good things will follow, okay. That's not true at all. One of the best examples I have of that admittedly it's not science, it's in history. Somebody asked the difference between Benedict Arnold and George Washington. The natural answer is well George Washington is the not only the leader of our country, the leader of our country, the first leader of our country. I mean, his many people are named after him, he has got cities named after him, has his pictures on different denominations. I have never heard anybody name Benedict Arnold, no streets named Benedict Arnold, no money, no US currency has Benedict Arnold's picture on it. Okay, Benedict Arnold is not just a traitor, he was the archetype traitor. He defined traitorship in the version in United States. Yet, if you look at their productivity records, you would come to a different conclusion. Benedict Arnold was one of the most, in fact, the most promising general at the beginning of the Revolutionary War.
He won a major battle in New England, almost won Montreal for the United States for the young United States. He took care of his troops in the field, he wrote very good reports about what was going on and he had a good sense of strategy. This is all going on, while George Washington after losing Bunker Hill, which is exactly what happened, he lost, came down to New York, promptly lost Long Island, moved west, where he lost Manhattan, moved north where he lost Harlem then he crossed over the Hudson River where he lost a series of battles in New Jersey. When he finally won at Trenton and Princeton, it surprised even him. He promptly lost again at Brandywine where then he crossed the Delaware River into Pennsylvania where he immediately lost Philadelphia, okay. Benedict Arnold at this point had developed a navy on the Great Lakes and for a successful naval engagement, hello a general fighting a naval engagement against the British and won. He was personally valor less on the field. It was Benedict Arnold's victory at Saratoga in New York that finally convinced the French to come in on the side of the US, had nothing to do with George Washington. So what happened to these men? Here you have a man who is known for his non-productivity and there was in fact, there was a move, a formal move to replace George Washington with Benedict Arnold. So what happened?
Well, two things happen to adults who rise to prominence in their field. The first is that they get praise they do not deserve. The second is that they get unremitting criticism and hatred that they do not deserve. Benedict Arnold for all of his productivity attributes could never respond well to criticism. He could not handle criticism. So, he would fly into rages when after a very nice victory, some of the leaders in Congress criticized him for not pushing harder, faster, longer. When he didn't get promotions that he thought he deserved, he would fly into a rage. He would be consumed with this anger of being slighted by others who didn't have the capabilities that he had and these feelings allowed to rise unchecked, led him to the conclusion that he would be better served working for the British than for the Americans. George Washington, on the other hand, had the kind of character that buttressed him, protected him from all of the criticism he received early in the War number one and then at the end of the war, he gets a tremendous amount of love and loyalty, he is just elevated to be the king of kings for the United States and he resists that as well.
In the difference, what made the difference between these two men who we recognize now as vastly different, right, for what they stand, what they stand for in history, what made the difference was not productivity, it was character. Lapses in productivity are experienced by every scientist. Okay. These could be overcome, they can be reversed. Character stagnation is much more difficult problem to overcome. And productivity is transient. We are in a field where productivity is transient. I just confessed to you that through no machinations of my own I was one of the authors on a 1996 paper that appeared in the New England Journal that demonstrated the effect of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor statins in prolonging life after heart attacks. Okay. For one of the first articles that demonstrated this, it was this most highly cited article that year in the New England Journal, okay. No brag just fact that's what happened. I must confess I would be very surprised that 15 years from now people are still using statins. I spent a lot of time studying hypertension and helping develop and study new therapies for the treatment of hypertension.
I would be very surprised if 25 years from now they are still using those therapies and we're in a transient field, we work very hard for transient results, I mean that's what we know coming into this. So, these could... Kind of the work that we do are important contributions, but they are transient contributions. They are going to pass away. We need to make sure we learn the right lessons from the effort we put into it. On the other hand, a conversation that I have with a junior faculty member can actually hit the right themes, touch on the right notes, that will resonate and that junior faculty member's career for decades to come. So what's the lasing impact here? Productivity is an important useful transient vehicle, but character development and sharing that development has lasting value. So what do we mean by character development? Character development, I think it's one of those phrases like when we talk about adjusting one variable for another. Now, everybody has their own sense of what that means, but our senses, you know, our definitions may be different. So, let me tell you what I mean when I say character development.
Character development begins with self-respect. It begins with an assessment of what your own value and worth is, okay. Do you see yourself as an individual as a being with low value or high value? And who sets that value? Does your spouse set that value, your significant other set that value? Does your boss set that value? Does your own productivity record set that value? Who sets that value? I suggest that each of us, each of you has high and unshakable value and that value is independent of your professional accomplishments and it is independent of your failures and it is independent of what your deans, provost, division chair, team leaders, research teams think of you. Your value is separate and apart from that. And how can this be communicated to a junior faculty and to trainees? As you know, you don't need me to tell you this, you are under great stress, right. Under stress before you came here, be under stress when you leave. The reality of your high value is greater than the reality of that stress. I bet you five months from now you will not be able to say what caused you stress the morning of February 8th. It's transient.
It's going to, whether you do anything about it or not I guess, it's going to go away, okay. The reality of your high value though is permanent, that doesn't change. That remains the same, five months, five years, fifty years from now, that is of lasting value, not the stress. The stress is transient. It's also important to work, to develop a separate sense of self value. Self value separate from your treatment by others, and separate from your own performance. When I talk about character development, this is precisely what I mean, building up a sense of your self-worth that is different and separate and unchanged by what your boss thinks of you, what others think of you, number one and number two what you think about your daily performance. This is a very tough message, especially for junior faculty and trainees because my goodness they are being judged all the time, right. You have annual activity reports you have to do, you get reports about your performance from research leaders, you get reports about your performance from division directors, you get peer reviews that come back, reports about your performance, right, in writing and doing science. You get these all the time.
Here's the problem. You allow yourself to ride to feel good and it's very natural to do, you feel good when people who you value think well I love you, it's very natural to feel good about yourself. The problem is those people aren't perfect and they are going to criticize you perhaps when you don't deserve it, but if you've already allowed your self-value to ratchet up some because they were kind to you, what happens when they criticize you? It gets ratcheted down and when it gets ratcheted down, you loose a sense of self-value, that's the beginning of one of the most repugnant and reprehensible things that we can inflict on ourselves and that is self-rejection, and I submit to you that we will do almost anything to avoid self-rejection. I'll give you an example, I've a very good friend who was a statistician who worked for E.R. Squibb & Sons, very fine responsible company in the 1980's. He had a very good sense of productivity, seemed well balanced to us all, we all enjoyed being with him. E.R. Squibb was purchased by Bristol Meyers in the early 1990's and his bosses changed and his bosses, his new bosses were not so satisfied with the work he did, not because the work was of no scientific value, but because it wasn't the answer they wanted to hear and so they began to criticize him for it and we never knew that his weakness was that he had to have the approval of his bosses.
And so what he allowed himself to do, since disapproval of his bosses in his mind became disapproval of himself and a feeling he needed to avoid at all cost, he began to change his results to suit his bosses. And this happened for a series of years until it had gotten so bad that he lost all confidence in his ability to function as an effective scientist, and he would send to me and to others of us across the nation examples of his work, his arithmetic asking us to check it to make sure it was right and that's the level to which he dissolved. After a few months of this kind of despicable set of conditions, he just left the field because he just couldn't function anymore as a scientist nor was he able to find the strength in himself to develop a sense of value separate and apart from what his bosses thought of him. In order to begin to go through this important phase of character development, there are some things that we as trainees and junior faculty have to do, we have to get rest. Right? I mean that's just so, it's altruism. It's just so self-evident, but you need rest in order to think well. I've tried it both ways.
Friday night comes, we hope to have a nice weekend, but something came up that I have to have ready by Monday or I thought I could make, I would be at a certain point on Friday night with my work and I wasn't. Now, I've worked the weekend. I've put my family aside, worked the weekend. They weren't happy with me, but they knew I had to work, so they did not grumble too much. I worked the weekend, and yes I made some pedestrian paced progress with my work. Okay. Found that rather than work the weekend, take the weekend, come back to Monday, to work Monday with a new insight that leapfrogs what work I would have done over the weekend. Essentially, it made the work I would have done in the weekend irrelevant. I've tried it both ways. I prefer the latter. Okay. I come, I'm rested, I'm restored. I can do what I think I've been hired to do, which is bring the best combination of my talent, my insight, my intuition, my strength of heart, to the important matters at the school. That's what I was hired to do.
I wasn't hired to work in a fatigue-induced haze, kind of just trying to go through E-mail and at the same time trying to sound like I have a head on my shoulders in a telephone call, you know, I really have to be able to bring the best of my talent, and if I can't do that, I'm not serving anybody. So and, if I need to get rest to do that, I do that. I also find that if I am under stress, I need more rest. Okay. I've got to go to bed early the night before. Okay. And, I'm going to go to bed early the night after because I need to get more rest in order to be my best at the time of stress, and if my productivity suffers for that, then it must suffer because I'm more important than my productivity. It allows you to deal with sexual harassment and abuse from strength and not weakness. One of the most despicable circumstances that anybody should have to deal with is sexual abuse by a superior. And in fact, any abuse by a superior. You have to... Oh did I? Okay. Ah, okay. I was ready for it though.
[ Laughter ] Thank you. I'm not used to this mouse. The next thing is to work on your long-term vision for yourselves. It is February 8, 2014. What are you doing?
Are you teaching? Are you in a lab? Have you invented something? Do you have an important administrative post? What do you want to do 10 years from now? 15 years from now? Where do you see yourself? Having a long-term vision allows you to apply a metric to all the opportunities that come your way. We are awash in opportunities. The University of Texas has a system that every Monday morning tells me about opportunities I missed over the weekend, right? For grants, for other opportunities to bring money to the institution. Okay, these are all available to me. I cannot take advantage of all these opportunities. So, how do I decide which opportunities I am going to take advantage of and which ones I am frankly going to turn my back on? If I don't have a long-term vision, then I kind of choose these opportunities either because I think I have the time or somebody else gave me a recommendation and building a career like that is building a career on both the unpredictable flow of opportunities your way and the vicissitudes of life, and before you know it, you're going to take a non-reproducible path that kind of washes you up on some shore, 15 years from now that you may not like, but you have no hope of leaving. If you have a long-term goal, then you have a...
Having a long-term goal makes it easier for you to assess what the short-term decisions are you have to make. Is this opportunity going to help me get to my goal, my long-term goal? If it helps me get to my long-term goal, then maybe it's something I need to think about. If it doesn't help me get to my long-term goal, let me not take it and wait and look for something that will. Okay. Having a long-term goal has a remarkable impact on your ability to help somebody else. And, one of the things you really don't hear much about in scientific productivity is sacrifice, and you, sometimes it's useful. It's important for you, important for your colleagues to put aside your own sense of productivity for you that day to help a colleague who has got an issue, a scientific issue that they will need your help with. Now, it's very easy to slip into the survival mentality. Right? Survival mentality means - How are you doing Lynn? Oh! I'm just trying to survive the day. I'm just trying to survive. Survival does not really mean doing everything you can to stay alive. Right? Survivalism is selfish. Survivalism means I have no resources for you because I need them all for myself just to survive. We need to think about replacing survivalism with prosperity, and prosperity does not been bovine satisfaction.
Prosperity means simply since you have developed a long-term vision and are comfortable with your point on that trajectory because you know you're going to make good progress on it, you can pause and help somebody else. With no long-term vision, you have no long-term metric, have no idea what the future holds for you. Today is everything. I have to survive. Okay. I'm trying to replace the notion of survival with the notion of productivity. Learn the difference between perseverance and stubbornness. Okay. When I was a... I guess parents shouldn't do this any more, well, when I was growing up, and my brother and I, we'd go out with my parents, they would have to run an errand and they'd leave us in the car. Okay. It's a rainy day in New York, a window is down, a fly flies in and what does the fly do? Lands right on a window. Fly wants to get out, but what does the fly do? Just bangs that fly head against that same window over and over again even though just six inches away is open. Why does it do that? It can't figure out why its strategy isn't working. So, it just keeps trying this. Okay. Sometimes people have a lot of experience. Experience is just making the same mistakes repeatedly. Okay. Good job is not to develop experience. That's easy. Good job is to develop expertise, okay, which means that you learn the right lessons from your experience.
Okay. The difference between stubbornness and perseverance is vision. A persevering individual knows when to be persistent, but also knows when to back away from a problem, knows when to let a problem resolve itself. They do not feel the need to charge through every problem that they face, but it does require vision and that requires taking time to think and that requires you having some rest. Sacrificing productivity for colleague - we already talked about that, sometimes the most important thing on my, that I do during the day never appears on my calendar. Okay. It may be that a colleague comes in, I'm in the middle of preparing for an important conference call that will start in 40 minutes, colleague comes in my office distraught because they just got a review that they thought was unfair, unworthy, and they feel terrible about it. Okay. The most important thing I can do, put aside the preparation for the conference call, spend 20 minutes with this faculty member, spend some time with them, and try to give them another point of view, try to remind them of their work, try to remind them that these peer reviewers are many times wrong as well, and then take the 20 minutes that I have left to prepare for the conference call.
I cannot remember a single time when I've done that when I wished I had not spent time with my colleague. You know, when you have the choice, it's easy to see how important it would be to spend more time preparing, but in the end the preparation time didn't matter. Also, learn to manage your anger and we are in science because nobody made us go into this. We chose to do this. We are in this because we have talents and we also have strong feelings and we also have principles. That sometimes runs us into conflicts. Okay. Lean to begin to deal, now first of all, begin to deal with your own anger. Years from now you won't even remember why you were so angry today, but once you say something, once it's said, it can't be unsaid. Okay. Somebody mistreats you, the question you have to ask yourself is what does that do to your value. If that does something to your value, then no wonder you get upset. If it doesn't do anything to your value and self-worth, then why does it matter? I'll give you an example. There was a...
When I was a junior faculty member, I went to a research meeting that had a small number of us working on a project and the senior investigator was very angry with the senior statistician on the project because they had not done the computation the way the senior investigator wanted and wound up with a lower test statistic and a larger P value and that was a big issue for the investigator and the investigator was really criticizing the statistician and after a while we began to get a little nervous in the room because we're thinking, 'My goodness how long is this going to go on? This doesn't really seem to be right.' And the senior statistician listened to all this and he chuckled and he said, 'Well, you know, you're right.' He said after all statistics is really like a bathing suit. What it reveals is interesting, what it covers up is critical. Cracked the room up. All the angry dissipates and we get the opportunity to start again. Now what kind of strength of heart did the statistician have to have to listen to that, begin to feel the human reaction build up, and say well now hold on a second, this is not about my value. I know what's right and what's wrong here and so he is able not just to respond without anger, but to respond with some levity. It really helps to resolve the entire issue for us.
Did I do that again? Yes, okay. Communication. I've gone through a lot of evolution, as I'm sure you all have too with E-mail. The conclusion I'm coming to is E-mail should be a communication tool for me of last resort. Okay. E-mail seems to bring out the least human qualities of us. E-mail, if we get a terse E-mail from somebody, you want to respond tersely, you don't want to spend too much time on it, you want to have efficient use of E-mail, well you know, machines communicate that way, people don't. I thought that's what machines do with their zeroes and ones. My philosophy now is as follows. I get E-mail from a colleague, I first am going to see if I can see them, just take the time, go to their office three floors down, spend 20 minutes visiting with them. Okay, if I can't do that, then I call them, how do I reach him on the phone. I try to use E-mail as I would writing a letter. When do I write a letter? When I really can't visit with the person or I can't talk to the person, then I may think of writing a letter. Try to avoid E-mail. The other thing I'm trying to do with E-mail, is view E-mail on vacation. One of the biggest mistakes, I've decided, one of the biggest mistakes I made going on my 20th wedding anniversary to Hawaii was trying to look at E-mail every other day. I thought I was being a good citizen, this is just every other day, it's not everyday, every other day.
You know, when I came back and I reviewed the time I spent on E-mail thought about that because it is not just sending E-mail, it's thinking about the E-mail and when you're done with it, you still have to think about it and say well goodness maybe I need to E-mail somebody else about this now. I would have been much better off not just avoiding E-mail, but coming back after being gone for two weeks and having 500 E-mails in my inbox and deleting them all. Because there was nothing of any lasting value. It's all transient, all based on CC. If there's anything important I need to know about, believe me they'll find me. Glenn, did you get that E-mail I sent? Sorry, no I didn't. You're fired! It doesn't happen. Well I'll send you another one, I know you're on vacation, I'll send you another one. Okay. I mean again there is this sense that we have this new technology that we really need to be linked to it all the time. Well, most times, E-mail is not helpful. Also, when I do send E-mail, I must be awake. I must be alert because once I send an E-mail I don't know where it's going to go. I may send an E-mail to somebody and may just transmit that E-mail and that E-mail gets transmitted and before you know it, I'm getting a phone call from somebody I don't know who has got a job higher on the pay scale than me, who is wondering about an E-mail I sent that I forgot.
So, be alert and awake when you send E-mails. Read, I write my E-mail very tersely when I have to write it, but before I send it, I go back and I add some kindness to this, because I don't know the, even though I don't mean to send it unkindly, if the person just got off the phone from their boss who gave him a very tough time, he may not be feeling very charitable, they get a terse E-mail from me, they may think that I also am out to get them, and I'm not. And I want to go out of my way to assure them that I think the world of what they're doing. I think they did a fine job on this. I have a couple of suggestions for them to consider or not, please feel free to call me. Okay, here's where we are now just separating, trying to separate, being sure that you can separate your self-worth from external circumstances can be of invaluable consequence to you in emergencies and emergencies are abusive relationships with chiefs, they are of sexually or potentially sexually abusive relationships. Now when you get maligned by your division director and sometimes division directors do it, maybe they mean to, maybe they don't, but sometimes they do that. You have to decide how you're going to respond. First question I think you need to ask is what did this do to my self-worth and value.
If it reduced it, you've got a real problem on your hand. If it didn't, then here is what happens. You remain connected to all of the good things about you. When your self-worth is high, you are connected to your memory, to your vocabulary, your ability to articulate a clear argument, your ability to think on your feet, you can do all of those things. If your self-worth is under assault and has been diminished, suddenly you lose the ability to do that. You can't remember anymore conversation you had. Who was it with? What in detail was it about? You can't do anything. And so you're unable to reason very effectively. So, when you are in an abusive situation, you have to think about what is happening to your self-worth? If your self-worth can remain high and self-worth always requires attention, because it's always under attack. Okay. You always have to keep filling it because it's running out the bottom. Okay. So, it always requires attention. You have to ask yourself just now is it high or low? Make sure it's high before you respond. Every crisis, in every crisis, one of two things will happen, character construction or character destruction.
You will be diminished by it or you will have grown because of it. Now, I am not at the point where I can say I'm so thankful for today's crisis because I get one more opportunity to develop my character. No, I don't do that. There may be one day I will, but today is not that day, but before I respond I ask whoa, you know, what's going on here? How? Are you going to respond in a way that's going to be good for you or a way that's going to be bad for you? Okay. I don't know if you have Mentoring Committee Structures here, if you have mentoring committees, develop good solid mentoring committees and there are many good reasons for that, one is that the mentoring committee knows you, they know your strengths and weaknesses, they can provide very good timely advice in the time of a crisis - number one. Number two, they can have a conversation with the senior faculty member that you can't, okay. But you have to lay the groundwork for that, but again character development is now you get to take advantage of it when you are in a situation of strife. How do you deal with an abusive boss?
Many times junior faculty get talked into getting into research a group because it will allow them to launch their career, give them a good productivity track record, allow them to get off to a good start, but the working atmosphere is just terrible and sometimes junior faculty ask themselves after taking weeks or months of this unremitting criticism whether they should leave. Or what are the downsides? The downsides are the loss of productivity. Right, your name, you lose the momentum with this research effort, you spend a lot of time generating momentum for another research effort. You also gain the reputation of being a troublemaker, somebody who is not a team player, somebody who can't get along, okay. The upside of leaving is that character damage stops. So what recommendations do we have for you, if the typical recommended solutions, that is, to say counseling, adjudication, you've done all that. It really hasn't worked. So now you're driving home and you have to decide what it is that you want to do, okay. If everything else fails, you've tried everything you know how to do, it doesn't work, leave, okay.
What somebody in a position of authority can take away from you is of no real lasting value anyway. Okay. Unfortunately, good people are presented sometimes with terrible choices, okay. You can make one decision and it will change your career, no question of it's going to have an adverse effect on your career you will not rise to the height of prominence that so many people thought was promised to you or you can make the other decision and still have the hope of rising to that level of prominence, but having important and serious damage done to you internally. Having your characters unraveled and having them unraveled in a way that it affects your career in the long run and also affects your family, also affects your colleagues. Okay. Good people are confronted with that choice. You have to decide what's most important for you. The time to do that is before you are in the crisis. Spend some time thinking about how you're going to respond in that situation before it actually comes on you. Crises are coming. Please don't think that you are too smart, too insightful, too cute, too smooth, too political to avoid crisis. Crisis is coming like tomorrow, okay.
You can be guaranteed it's on the way. You have to decide how you're going to deal with it. Right, and begin to think about then. Therefore, what is most important to you? Is productivity most important to you or is the development as an individual and development of your character most important? Begin to set that metric up now so that you have a sense of how your decisions are going to... The direction of your decisions in these times of criticality and emergencies. You may not know who the Hunkpapa Sioux are. They are part of the Sioux nation, the Plains Indians, Blackfoot Sioux, Oglala Sioux or other families, but the Hunkpapa Sioux produced two Indians of notice and notoriety, a Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. I don't know the Sioux language. I cannot pronounce the term they use to describe these men but I can tell you what it meant. It meant these men owned themselves. They knew what they were about. They knew what they were here to do. They were true to that regardless of the external circumstances. The world may think highly of them. The world may curse them. But they knew what they were about and they set about doing what they were here to do.
Get a sense of your own direction, your own priorities, and your own strengths. I'm, you know, we're almost out of time. Let me just skip this one for just a second, let's go to ethics. You have ethical dilemmas that are on the way. Some ethical dilemmas are we have to be sure we learn the right lessons from them. Let's talk about William Summerlin. William Summerlin, you may not know, he was in the 1970's the future was bright with the idea of transplantation, but there was this one pesky problem of host versus graft reactions and nobody knew what to do with it. This is a true story. William Summerlin was a promising young immunologist who was hired at Memorial Sloan-Kettering to solve the host versus graft reaction. His job specifically was to solve it with skin grafts and what he hoped to do was be able to take mice with black skin and graft that black skin on to the white mouse so the result would be a reaction-free mouse with patchwork skin. After five or six months of work, he was not able to produce the result and in this he re-doubled his efforts, spent 7 days a week, most of the days in his lab working.
Finally, he had a news conference, which was announced to the world, broadcast to the scientific world at which he was there and the important and political leaders of Memorial Sloan-Kettering were there and in the cage in front of all the news cameras was the collection of mice all with patchwork skin and so he was broadly acclaimed as the scientist who solved this problem and now this opened the door to not just save skin transplantation but internal organ transplantation as well, but of course other scientists now wanted to know how he did this and so he sent his methodology out and it turns out nobody else was able to reproduce it because William Summerlin left out the one last step in the process which was to take a black felt pen and color the skin of the mouse, the white mouse black in squares. Those were the mice he presented. Now there are two reactions to this. The one natural reaction is what kind of knuckle head thinks that they're going to be able to get away with this. Could we have some natural reaction, but William Summerlin was a very bright scientist who had a promising future much like all of you have. Okay. So, what happened to this man that he was reduced one night to actually faking his results in the most flagrant and fraudulent way.
Well, he worked in an environment where productivity was everything, progress was always rewarded, failure was decried, and it brought out the worst of his character. Okay. He was fatigued, he was hungry, he hadn't taken good care of himself. He already had a series of bad meetings with his bosses crescendoing, each one getting worse, and he was not willing to do that again. So, what he did was fake the result rather than just say sorry, I can't do this, I need to leave. Now, he may have thought that saying he needed to leave would ruin his career and it would have changed his career. What he actually did ruined his career. Okay. Some parts of our lives, sometimes in our lives we can handle a lot of stress, other times we can't, and the times when you can't handle stress, avoid the job that gives it to you. Don't ruin yourself trying to be in a stressful situation where frankly you just can't do your best thing. Now, we all like to be able to compete. We all like to argue, I mean, there's some fun in that and you would agree that it helps you be the best scientist you can be - participate, but if it doesn't help you, do something else. Ethics are not a series of rules.
We have in my school, we are in the phase now where we would like to have rule books for everything and we have rule books for ethics, but ethics are not rules. Ethics is a way of life, okay. It's a philosophy of life. Try to have a statement of your individual ethic as a scientist, your own personal statement. This is mine. The ethical statement of myself and others is based on the principle that we all have innate built-in value regardless of our accomplishments or our treatment by others. This natural value requires that I treat you and your resources with respect and dignity regardless of my opinion about your point of view or your accomplishments. That wasn't my statement ten years ago, it won't be my statement ten years from now. It is my statement now and so that's what, when I look in the mirror at night that's the metric I have to deal with, okay. The days I don't live up to that metric, and there are days when I don't, I owe somebody an apology. Okay. I can be challenged with the metrics of others, with the ethical statement of others and that is good because I will learn from them. We all work in an environment where ethical decisions 30 years ago are now lambasted. So, the ethics changes over time. Ethics is dynamic.
So, my statement needs to be dynamic and needs to change over time, but I formulated, I articulated, I defended, I operate by it, I never allow anybody else's ethic to replace mine. So, if I am working with a senior cardiologist whose ethic is different than mine, then I want to first speak with them because they may have some insight into this area that I don't. They certainly have experience that I don't have, and so as they inform me, then I think about it and decide to change my ethic based on this new information. That's great, that is growth, but I'm never going to allow somebody to say because they have experience and I don't I must automatically subjugate myself to their ethic, okay. If their ethic is superior, they need to take the time to persuade me. If they don't take the time to persuade me, then I'm going to operate by my own ethic. When senior scientists have ethical problems that junior scientists know about, you know who suffers? Junior scientists. It's the junior scientists, the project managers who lose their jobs, okay. When you're in an unethical situation, frankly sometimes you are going to lose your job anyway.
You decide under what circumstances this is going to happen. Is it going to happen with your ethic intact or is it going to happen after you have separated yourself from your own good judgment, given up your ethic, and then having been hurt in a public way, have to leave. Also, decide whether your ethics and ethical alarm is it going to be like the snooze alarm or the fire alarm. My alarm went off at 5:30 this morning, okay. I said great it's Tuesday, hit the alarm and went right back to sleep for a few minutes, okay. Don't treat your ethic alarm that way. Ethic alarm is like a fire alarm. When the alarm goes off, there is real trouble here and I have to deal with it. I cannot ignore it. I must respond to it. You have an ethical alarm clock for a reason. It's going off to warn you, so, take it seriously and react to it. Just a couple of minutes, I guess something about leadership principles. This is what you typically see, talk about leadership principles. Look at our book on leadership, they talk about courage, resourcefulness, administrative diligence, imagination, boldness with a sense of the achievable. Those are the kinds of characteristics that leaders have, but, another characteristics you don't see very much about is the notion of responsibility and blame.
I have very good friends in science who want nothing to do with leadership because it has to do with taking responsibility for themselves and for others and it's bad enough and tough enough for them to take responsibility for themselves. Now, they'll have to take responsibility for others, for their leadership, for others on their team. They have to take blame, okay. Okay. Again, it comes down to your sense of value, okay. Failure in science does you no long-term damage if it is honest, because science is about failure. We learn about failure, okay. This is not religion where you go to hell if you're wrong, okay. In science, we make our... We have our most spectacular epiphanies from failure. Okay. Failure does you no long-term damage. The ability to take responsibility for failure, the ability to apologize easily simply means that you get to keep your own faculties, your own best talent, and wits about you in difficult times. You get to develop vision when other people are losing theirs and that is the key feature in leadership. Once you do that, then you will find the courage and the resourcefulness and the imagination and the boldness that you need. But you first have to divorce your own sense of self-worth from failure, you have to listen to blame and be able to say that's right and I'm still of great value and worth. I probably better stop here. Do you have any questions? Yes.
What do you think about the Peter Principle?
Oh! The Peter Principle is... There was a book published in the mid 1960's that were responding to the observation that corporations were full of incompetent professionals. Incompetent university provost, incompetent vice presidents at manufacturing firms, incompetent... and the Peter Principle was an explanation for it. The Peter Principle said that people rise to the level of their incompetence, okay. I may be a good professor and somebody thinks to reward me by giving me a promotion to be an assistant dean, okay; but I do a terrible job as assistant dean. So, therefore, I get no more promotions, but they're not going to demote me either. So, I reside there, okay. The problem, the reason the Peter Principle works and the way to undo it is to see that promotions require you to self-transform. Let me finish using the same example, being a good professor commonly allows me to be comfortable with weaknesses I have. I have learnt to deal with them to get around them. I've gotten too comfortable with them. I now have to shed those if I'm going to be a good assistant dean, and when that doesn't happen, the incompetence that was hidden at one level it comes out, it becomes manifest at the other. Other questions? Okay, thank you for your time.
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