Over the stretch of my professional years, I’d say my most nagging error has involved an inability to gauge correctly the point at which the next possible undertaking – or even golden opportunity – should be firmly rejected. Whenever I’ve allowed one-too-many responsibilities onto my plate, everything – including the new item – has suffered from the overcrowding. With that threshold crossed, I’ve no longer had the time or patience to plan, think, or toil hard enough to be proud of the resultant work. If I had a single piece of advice for young researchers, it would be to create and follow a rule for avoiding this state of affairs. The rule could involve something objective (e.g., never exceeding a specific quota of research involvements) or subjective (e.g., avoiding the feeling of rushing to, from, and through all of one’s commitments). The key is to apply the rule ruthlessly. Anything less would be another form of error.
Dr Robert Cialdini, a social psychologist at Arizona State University, is the most widely cited expert on influence and persuasion alive today. His most recent book is Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways To Be Persuasive.
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