How many times did I tell myself to give up?

When I evaluate myself about where I am in comparison to where I want to be in a research career, I see many areas where I can take it further. I used to review these ‘incompetency’ as part of my weakness. Now, I see that as potential of my growth and development.

In my early days of research journey, my supervisor got me ready by telling me the reality of feedback from examiners or reviewers.
“When it comes back, don’t take it personally. It is not about you or your ability. It is simply an indicator telling you that you can expand more.”

I remember the first time I had to apply for ethical approval for my research, my supervisor gave me similar advice.
“Get ready to justify and respond to address all questions they might have in relation to your research. We are not telling you to do alone because you are still under training.”
She got me to do a table which we now called “Response table” for all of our submissions such as ethical application, grant application, report, and manuscript submissions. It actually become a mandatory table to include when responding to an Institutional Review Board for the ethical clearance. It is part of our standard practice.

Although I see my potential of growth in many areas, it doesn’t mean I have no doubts about my current ability. Because my progress is so small, I actually doubt my ability to initiate, write, or contribute to a successful manuscript. I am yet to be competent to do it by myself. Yes, I understand in modern society, majority of manuscripts are developed through collaboration with other authors. However, at the moment, I feel what I can contribute and/offer is so little and limited.

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.

The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

Thomas Edison

When I was developing several manuscripts out of my Master thesis, I had trouble understanding how to write it differently so it becomes an acceptable manuscript that editors will consider to publish in their journal. As publishing from my Master thesis was not a requirement for graduation, I don’t know how many times I questioned my supervisors “Do we really need to do this?”

At the beginning, even though my supervisors prepared and warned me, receiving a rejection wasn’t a present experience. Without my supervisor’s support, I probably had gave up publishing from my Master thesis. “Let’s try for another journal”, “Let’s try one more time”.

During the whole research career, not publishing a manuscript might seems a small thing. However, as I have learned in last few years, it won’t be just that one manuscript you would put in a “too hard” basket. Probably by the end of your research career, there would be numerous manuscripts that would never pass your office. I remember there were times I thought “my findings were not significant enough to be published” but my supervisor responded “there are important message here that we have to tell”.

The biggest hurdle is rejection … be ready for it.

The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is the successful people do all the things the unsuccessful people don’t want to do.

When 10 doors are slammed in your face, go to door number 11 enthusiastically, with a smile on your face.

John Paul DeJoria

Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.

Winston Churchill

My supervisor actually modelled this to me. When we are writing a manuscript together, I often have this confused and unbelieving expression on my face while she has totally opposite facial expression. Her face will be lit with excitement, enthusiasm, curiosity, and fascination. Then, she will say one of her faviourate statement “I think we are onto something”. Not surprisingly, she will provide and share her insights why she thinks it is significant and that in turn feed into my curiosity, enthusiasm, and fascination. By the time I know, I am so into this manuscript development that I will talk and think about it all day long. It becomes my motivation to keep going.

What I have learned these years is a rejection will not kill you. It just mean that you can write it better if you try. It might be the journal you targeted didn’t see the potential of your manuscript. There will be countless reasons you can come up but a truth is that you can improve your manuscript. My supervisor did trained and prepared me well to survive in such reality.

Are you aware of what you are about to give up?
Is that something you can easily let it slip?
What is your motivation to keep going?

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