PhD Chronicles: Part VI

During the course of this programme, I was introduced to podcasts by a friend and ever since then I’ve been hooked. Listening to podcasts made the long hours in the lab bearable especially when I’m all alone doing microscopy. I swung like a pendulum from one podcast to another, including The breakfast club, Alex Jones show, Joe Budden podcast, the church of what’s happening now, uncovered with Dr Laura Berman until I settled for the The Joe Rogan experience.

There’s something about this particular podcast that piqued my interest: it can be honest, funny, deep, informative/educative, real and raw all at the same time. The guests come from all walks of life ranging from comedians, politicians, musicians, sportsmen to scientists. However, what really impressed me about Joe Rogan was his abundance mentality and how he encourages people who have something to say to start their own podcasts. He understands that there’s enough room for everyone to excel and their successes won’t deter his own.

The abundance mentality stems from a deep sense of self and inner sense of self-worth. It is an archetypal thinking that there’s more than enough out there for everyone. It reflects in kindness, generosity, sharing accolades, complimenting and being happy for others. In return, it creates rooms for options, possibilities and alternatives. Contrastingly, the scarcity mentality is the mindset that you have to hoard whatever – whether it is time, knowledge, skills, money, food, emotions – you have as there will never be enough. This stems from fear, insecurity and a place of lack, and often reflects in envy, desperation, jealousy, talking trash about others, plotting/lying against others and malice.

The concept of abundance and scarcity, with regards to the mind, was explained by Stephen Covey in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He described those with scarcity mentality as people who see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone gets a big slice of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else.

Most people, including those in science, academia and corporate world in general, are ingrained with scarcity mentality. Companies often pit staff against each other and in the advent of promotions, raises or recognition, people tend to put others down or hoard information that they perceive will give their competitors an edge over them. This is short term thinking and often useless in the long term.

Most people feel overwhelmed like an impostor when they start their PhD journey. It is important that they are given enough support and assigned someone who would take things slow and calmly explain things to them in the most simplified way. This is reassuring and let’s them know that everyone makes mistakes.

Mistakes compound your fear so the last thing they need is for supposed superiors to look down on them, talk to them condescendingly or assume that they have nothing important to offer. And this is where the abundance mentality comes in. An abundant thinker will be generous with his or her time and knowledge to help the newbie. Always remember that you were once a newbie like them so slow things down.

The newbie doesn’t need to hear you brag about your experiences or accolades. Switch the focus from yourself to them. Listening to your endless bragging will inadvertently make him or her more tense and scared about the journey ahead.

And to the newbie PhD student, I want you to know that this is just a phase and nothing is permanent. If you put in the effort, you’d grow in knowledge and become confident. Don’t be envious or jealous of others, those you think are ahead of you were once in your shoes so keep your head down and get to work.

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