Are you diminishing yourself and your accomplishments by using these two words?
Submitted by Michael Salgaller on Mon, 2015-04-20 16:01
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Are you diminishing yourself and your accomplishments by using these two words?

Science as a discipline and career path is, by its nature, highly hierarchical. That is, chances are strong the organization you work with is structured vertically. There is a clear pecking order, a clear chain of command. 

In academia, there are primary investigators, under which are postdocs, graduate students, technicians, and undergraduates, generally in that pecking order. In industry, there are Vice Presidents, Senior Directors, Directors, Senior Scientists, Scientists, technicians, etc.

That pecking order, that chain of command, is usually based on formal education/degree more so than accomplishment or contribution. Ever see a primary investigator or lab director with “only” a Master’s Degree? Ever see a Chief Scientific Officer with “just” a Bachelor’s Degree; that is, without a MD or PhD? Didn’t think so. 

In most other fields, companies care a lot more about how much value you’re bringing to the table than your formal education once out of high school. In most of other fields, leadership comes from those most adept at helping the firm accomplish its mission. 

However, even the most junior, the most entry-level position in research or medicine requires considerable accomplishment. Most positions are not assembly lines; even if the assay is routine and repetitive, there is constant updating of skills and information required. 

Why do highly trained, highly talented men and women continue to diminish themselves in this manner? Why do you? Certainly, science is ego-driven – perhaps more so than other careers. And plenty of people only feel good about themselves do so by making others feel bad about themselves. Don’t buy into this.

So, stop using “only” and “just” when introducing or describing yourself. If someone makes you feel small, makes you feel inferior, that’s their problem. You could get several doctorates, and they’d still have the problem. You can’t cure them, so stop making excuses for them. Celebrate the hurdles you’ve overcome, the sacrifices made, the accomplishments for which you’ve contributed. Oh, and treat yourself to an off-site lunch every once in awhile.

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