Eleanor Really…

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…




About Steve Street

I have worked in R&D within the Pharmaceutical industry for over 30 years. Up until April 2012 all of my career had been with one company, but that has now changed. I left that company and took up a new role on May 1, 2012 - still very much within the Pharmaceutical industry and again based in the UK. I have been blogging every week now for over 10 years but only on an external site since January 2012. Email updates of the blogs can be requested using the ‘follow’ option within Wordpress. The blogs are only ever my personal view of what I see, think and feel. I am delighted if you agree and find value; happy if you disagree with my views and overjoyed if you feel motivated to comment. Most of all I am simply grateful that you read. Cheers Steve
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6 Responses to Eleanor Really…

  1. Frank says:

    Hi Steve,

    Nice one.

    I really like the 3P framework, but I fear it will be very difficult to implement for the majority of target classes, for a variety of reasons, some of them scientific, many (most) of them organisational.

    Good luck for your future,

    • Steve Street says:


      Many thanks and great to hear from you. I agree Three Pillars is not alwasy going to be that easy. I am not sure I woudl go so far as to say difficult for the majority of targets though…even with the dreaded organisational challenges you refer to.

      It will most definitely be very interesting to observe what happens next



  2. Sarah Kelly says:

    HI Steve
    I am a big Eleanor fan. My favorite one is “the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”
    BEst wishes,

  3. Hi Steve,

    Learning from mistakes has a prerequisite: the ability to admit that one has been made. Hubris, arrogance, fear and blame-shifting are the enemies of learning. Transparency is necessary to correctly learn the lessons from experience. When we see failure, we like to attribute it to a peculiar circumstance or a special cause. It’s something that doesn’t apply to us; we’re insulated from it. Systemic collapse is much harder to deal with because it challenges the basic assumptions that we’ve all taken as premises. Much like the sub-prime mortgage crisis and ensuing credit problems that have plagued the world economy over the last few years. It’s easier to say that the problems are isolated somewhere else… like Greece and Italy… and that those things can’t happen here… until they do.

    Valuing outcomes above all else results in some pretty terrible behaviors. The drive to create more loans to sell to firms creating CDO’s led to lenders giving money to people that should never have been given loans. It worked… for a while… No one seemed to value the wisdom of only lending money to the credit worthy.

    Intimidation is always interesting. I like this poster:



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