I am studying in a PhD program. I am not studying for a PhD.
I seek knowledge, self improvement, and to be a better scientist and leader. That is why I enrolled in the PhD program. Sincerely, 4-6 years working in conservation at home in the Bahamas taught me more about the actual conduct of real world science than I have learned here. Ironically, several of the lessons I learned showed me that there were some lessons I had to return to Academia to learn.
1: passion is not enough. Knowing the truth is out there and having a drive to find that truth will not bring that truth to you. You need tools, tangible and intangible. You need a team of people with various skills in science, leadership, understanding, language, logistics. And often you need funding.
2: see the system and its limitations. as long as we do not have the capacity within ourselves, we will be dependent on someone else. As an individual or an organization or a country, if we do not improve our capacity, we will rely on others. This includes things as simple as learning about ourselves (introspection, oil exploration, and oil spill response and environmental impact assessments) to things as complex as balancing social and environmental needs with economic costs and revenues.
3: Compromise. Sometimes you have to stop doing so many things to do one thing really well. Sometimes, the only way to help others is to make yourself stronger. Sometimes you have to learn another language or culture to explain to people using that language why your culture has value.
I learn these lessons again as I navigate English Speaking North American Academia. I was recently told by academic leadership that they were uncertain I was being or likely to be successful. This from those who had no idea of my previous and continued personal success with BEiNGS, BirdsCaribbean, The Nature Conservancy, as a SCUBA diver and instructor, developing courses and programs, advising and encouraging students to challenge themselves and take on their next degree, as a teacher, as a student, a scientist, Bahamian, artist, husband and father.
I challenge those that find encouragement in my work to learn these lessons.
Passion is not enough. So find your passion and use it to fuel you, to find the tools to let you chase that passion to the ends of the earth.
See the system and its limitations.the system you grew up in and the systems outside that influence it and the way they influence you. Every system has rules, flaws, limitations, opportunities. Learn the systems you have to navigate and bend them to your best advantage. Vote, protest, get on a committee, learn the stories of your leaders, but learn multiple systems. Be critical, especially of your own systems.
Compromise. This is the hardest for me. I want to do the great things now. I want to change the world for the better and there are so many ways we can. People will tell you to stop or to slow down or do it their way. The skin of an apple holds it together and allows it to survive this world. That is compromise. Shape yourself to survive, to be attractive to those you need until they can feel sure of your value. Look to the future you want, through today’s suffering. At the heart of you is your truth. Hold on to that. Let your Personal truth guide you to compromise as much as you need to, but no more.
I wish you all success, first of all in learning how to measure your own success.
Ancilleno Davis, AA, B.Sc., M.Sc.