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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Funny Thing Happened Once

I agreed to review a promotion case several years ago. The candidate was known to me without being a close friend. I had only positive feelings personally. He had creative work, let's say short stories, some critical editions of a Peruvian dramatist, and a monograph on a theme in cultural studies, let's say comic strips.

I reviewed the case positively, but here is the problem: there was nothing that spoke to me in any of it. The short stories were insipid. The works of the dramatist were not interesting. The monograph had some good moments, but was not at all deep. The articles on various other topics were insubstantial. For my kind of mind, with all of its own limitations, there was little there there, despite the quantity of work.

But this is usually the case. Another example I can think of: a speaker came and gave a talk on something that should have been interesting to me, yet the approach ended up being dull, despite its proximity to my own interests.

The upshot: you don't need to be good to be successful. If your work is actually good, though, you will be successful simply because that is a rare thing that will be recognized.

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