As I was working though various options and scenarios this week, my wife gave me a quote. She attributed it to Eleanor Roosevelt. I love quotes. Especially great quotes. I often use quotes when discussing topics. A quotation from someone wise always seems to have impact. I always attribute quotes. My challenge is making sure I remember quotes and who said them. So anytime anyone gives me a quote I always take note.
“Remember, no-one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.
I thought this was a great message – so simple, so true and so powerful? I have long since realised there are few situations where anyone really sets out to make us feel inferior, or seeks to belittle us. Nevertheless somehow, sometimes it happens. We interact with someone in some way…and the end result is that we feel inferior.
And this is where and why Eleanor is correct. It is our choice to make. It is our choice to take something that someone says as being personal and to feel inferior. And therefore we also have the choice not to care…and not feel inferior. This was a very helpful reminder…
I was sufficiently stimulated that I decided to do a little searching around Eleanor and this quotation. All was going well…until I discovered that in reality there is little evidence that Eleanor ever said these words of wisdom, But that’s OK – everyone seems to assume it was her so who am I to buck the trend.
My search around Eleanor, though, did prove of value – so valuable in fact that I found another quote from her for my collection. “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” As well as being similarly simple, true and powerful, this one also resonated with me as our paper on Three Pillars of (Phase II) Survival was eventually published in Drug Discovery Today last week.
This was a significant moment for us all on the original team. As well as a feeling of pride, we share a sense of expectation (or maybe hope) that this publication could really help projects teams across the industry be more successful.
But for this to be the case, then Eleanor’s second quote has to apply. Project teams have a chance to help themselves if they learn from our mistakes. Although we can’t guarantee Phase Two success for projects who apply the Three Pillars…we can guarantee failure for those who don’t.
So I am very interested to see to what extent others will take lessons from our work. My fear is that we have too common a tendency to ignore or discount the experiences of others.
I am not sure I really understand why this is, but I can observe it and (some would say) I can be just as guilty as the next person. We find it hard to seek out, or to ask for, help. All I can assume is that this has to be down to what we value and what we don’t.
We put so much value on achievement – doing things, succeeding, being productive. We just don’t seem to value wisdom (experience, knowledge, judgment) anything like as much…especially wisdom offered by someone else.
In writing the Three Pillars paper, we tried hard to make it a factual account of our work including observations and learnings we made, learnings we took and learnings we seek to apply. Others can (and we hope will) examine the data for themselves, draw their own conclusions and apply their own learnings.
Perhaps we should have included some quotes from Eleanor…