Success

By

Leonard Zwelling

            With
the latest trend of having unanimously approved, peer-vetted faculty turned
down for promotion and tenure by the President, it is safe to say that success
at MD Anderson is being rapidly redefined. Previously, good performance as
judged by grant funds, publications, clinical care, service and teaching was
sufficient for tenure renewal, particularly for those who had had their tenure
renewed on multiple occasions in the past. No more.

            Clearly,
the President has a different set of criteria by which he judges success. Using
as a yardstick his own behavior or that of some of his hires, I am not so sure
I aspire to his standard, but to each his own. I just think the rest of us need
to know what is expected of us to be considered successful not only by our
colleagues, but by the President.

            On
Saturday in the NY Times, Alina Tugend reported on a recent conference that
aimed at addressing the very issue of success. It was held at Arianna
Huffington’s new TriBeCa apartment and attended by a compacted group of 200
that included Candice Bergen, White House advisor Valerie Jarret and co-sponsor
Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC’s Morning Joe. It was called “The Third Metric:
Redefining Success Beyond Money and Power”. 

            (here’s
the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/15/your-money/a-call-for-a-movement-to-redefine-the-successful-life.html)

            While
this was a conference dominated by issues about women in the workplace, Ellen
Galinsky, president of a non-profit called Families and Work Instiute,
identified 6 criteria for an effective workplace for everyone:

1.     Challenging
and learning on the job

2.     Autonomy

3.     Work-life
fit (they hated balance as much as I do)

4.     Support
from a supervisor

5.     A
work climate of respect

6.     Economic
security

            This
conference did not try to substitute material success or the acquisition of
meaningful power with a feel-good of artificial saccharine. However, the point
as I understood it was the admission that there are factors beyond money and
power that make jobs worthwhile and, dare I say it, fun.

            To
me fun is pleasure, engagement and meaning. If you have that on the job, you
have hit the jackpot. Even when things are not fun if you are growing,
learning, treated with respect and being paid fairly, most jobs can be way more
fulfilling than simply the means to eat, pay the mortgage, make the car payments and cover private school tuition.

            I
urge you to read this piece and consider the points it makes. Perhaps you could
discuss this with your co-workers and supervisors to see if you can
collectively improve the work place along these lines.

            As
someone who chased gold stars for the past 40 years and only discovered the
true value of work late in life, I wish someone had clued me in about all of
this. Of course, I am not at all sure I would have listened given my
single-minded focus on grants, publications, additional personnel at my beck
and call and, of course, a higher salary. But it looks to me like the PTC has
recognized the value of work-life fit. Now we need to make the President
similarly aware.

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