Into the Arena
There's a great quote by the late president Teddy Roosevelt that goes like the following:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly..."
I was only exposed to this quote within the last year or so after reading Dr. Brené Brown's text titled Daring Greatly, but even though such words were only brought to my awareness recently, I find great resonance within their meaning, with respect to how I've approached research at both at the University of Idaho and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Entering into the microcosm that is the laboratory can be a bit strenuous. New situations often warrant themselves a bit of a transition period while you're getting use to new protocols, procedures, expectations and perspectives. Through this time of transition into a research environment, it's necessary to maintain a sense of composure in order to gauge how the variables of the space you're entering into intrinsically interact. With such, you can deduce the best way your presence in the space can compound with the lab itself to formulate a healthy environment in which you can work.
It's important to understand the necessity of control within that research environment. And when I elude to this notion of control, I refer not only to the aspects contained with in the experimental procedures themselves, but the variables that one as a researcher brings forth into the intellectual arena that is the laboratory. Learn not only the reactions, but the equipment, the space, and the perspectives you as a researcher bring forth into the microcosm. Pay attention to how you interact with your coworkers, your superiors, your research advisors, and other professors whom you might frequent for wisdom and council. Learn how to enjoy the space you're given as you work together with those around you to advance our understanding of the world.
Finally, recognize that you're officially a part of the team. Your worth and your value are not simply defined by your ability to produce, but your willingness to join us in the arena. You're not expected to know everything come day one. You will most likely (just like the rest of us) make mistakes along the way. But no matter the times and trials that come, the one thing that will be expected of you will be a willingness to join in a partnership that will hopefully change the world. And no matter what your role on the team ultimately looks like, be enthusiastic to watch, learn, indulge, and enjoy. With luck, not only will you discover something amazing about the nature of reality, but you might just learn something about yourself along the way.
Welcome to the Arena.