Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pool the Wisdom

At Penn, I lead an organization called GABE: Graduate Association of Bioengineers.  GABE is the graduate student group for the bioengineering department and acts as a liaison between the students and the department.  We host social events, community service and outreach, professional development, graduate student recruitment, a department research symposium, intramural softball, etc.  We aim to build a more cohesive and collaborative department.  Along these lines, this year we have spearheaded the GABE Seminar Series.  Today was the first seminar of the series: How to Manage Your Advisor.  This open discussion was led by 2 faculty members, Dr. Beth Winkelstein and Dr. Kelly Jordan-Sciutto.

I thought the most memorable quote from the discussion was by Dr. Kelly Jordan-Sciutto.  She said,
"If you seek advice from only one person, you can only be as good as that one person."
It took a minute for this to sink in, but once it did, it made sense.  One person can only give so much advice, and the advice he/she gives is based on his/her personal experiences.  Dr. Kelly Jordan-Sciutto was advocating for us to develop relationships and seek advice of many people during our career and personal development.  

As we aspire to reach and expand our potential, think of how much more efficiently we could do so if we could pool the wisdom of many people.  We can apply this concept beyond our career development.  Remember in high school when you had to write a paper and your English teachers would tell you over and over again that you need more than one reference (and Wikipedia didn't count)?  Well, the English teachers were right.  Your paper would have a very limited perspective (and would likely be missing important facts) if you consulted only one book or one internet site.  Similarly, we lead very limited lives if we do not expand our network and seek the "references" of many people.  We cannot rely on one individual for all the answers-- not your significant other, not your religious leader, not your mom or your dad, not your teacher or your research advisor, not the best-selling book, not the world's wealthiest person... you get the point.  That's not to say that these "resources" are not significant.  They are... they will help mold you into your improved self; however, they won't, or shouldn't, do it alone.  There are many hands at work in this masterpiece.  It is your duty to seek out these hands and compile their contributions of advice into one meaningful life.

When was the last time you sought the advice of someone else?  How about more than one person?  In which areas of your life are you going to focus on expanding your advice network?       

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