My friend, why do you always complain?

Never tell your problems to anyone, 20% don’t care and the other 80% are glad you have them. -Lou Holtz

After a long time, I met one of my friends in my old place, Philadelphia.
He was my dear friend and, of course, he still is.
He began to talk to me about how badly his career is going, he said that nobody gave him a tenured position after teaching 7 years in a liberal art college, and how difficult it was to publish papers in peer reviewed journals where nobody cared about his fundamental research.
He further said that everything was so competitive, there was no funding for fundamental basic research from any organizations.
He gave me a chance to respond after saying this: public as well as private funding moved to the cosmetic areas of science and technology where immediate returns became the prime importance.

He became emotional and shared all of it with me because I was in his heart as one of his close friends, so I told him, why do you always complain?
And, in addition, when I meet you, you always start by complaining every time.
What is the reason for your complaint?
Do you actually feel relieved after complaining of things that you didn’t get?
This is my request to you, my friend, please, learn how to stop complaining if you can.
Complaining doesn’t solve your problem, actually it doesn’t solve anybody’s problems, it just exacerbates our problems.

Complaining is a habit, in many cases it’s a way to express our ego which is inside us.
Truth to be told, people don’t have time at all to listen to our complaints.
They have their own shits to figure out and move in their lives.
They always have their own things to muddle.
We might think they are listening to our complaint, and they will save us, but they actually are not listening to us.
We may feel that they might give something to us after they listen to our complaints, but in reality, people are listening to our problem just for a moment in front of us. Once we are gone, they will forget about what we just said.
They come back to their own problems, they think about their own situations, and they have their own things to figure out rather than ours.
This is the world we are living in.
There is nothing wrong here, but we have to understand how the human mind works.
People were like this before we came to this world, people are the same now, and will be the same in the future too.
Leaving very few people, actually very few from a close family circle that you can count on in your fingers, people have no time for others.
People are centered around themselves, it’s not their fault, this is how we all operate to survive.
People spend time by themselves, and for themselves, this is the hard reality.

I met you after five years but in our first conversation you started complaining about your job and working situations without even asking me how I was doing.

Of course, it’s difficult to get tenured, it’s difficult to publish in peer-reviewed journals.
If it wasn’t difficult, everyone would be publishing it, by this time it wouldn’t be special and creative to become a tenured professor.

To become tenured you have to either publish or perish, this is more than a slogan now in academia. Filter one out of ten, shine one and garbage nine to survive.

I suggest you ask people who got tenure before you. This is the world of human beings, the world of human experiences, and most importantly, the world of human connection.
Always remember, human connection.
Don’t take it lightly, I’m not saying just two words, it’s a whole lot of different games.

My friend, in the real world, your tenureship is decided by two or three people in your organization. It’s not about what you know and how much you know, it’s always about who you know.
Above talent there is connection and empathy.
Talent is nothing, everybody is talented in this world in some way, this is in our genes but connection means everything for any situation.
Michael Jordan isn’t talented in computer science, and , similarly, think of Bill Gates on the basketball court.
Talent is an outcome of an over extended period of practice, dedication, and hard work in one specific area.

Everybody knows Bill Clinton, the most popular and successful president of US history, but very few are aware of his habit of calling one to two ordinary common people whom he met somewhere in a coffee shop or in concert before going to sleep through years and years.
This is the power of person to person connection.

Once I attended a seminar by the late Nobel laureate professor Robert Grubbs, I remembered him saying that when he was assistant professor in Michigan State University, he was having problems with tenureship.
He said that many of his colleagues at the time suggested to him that he could change his career track.
After hearing their suggestion he said that he changed himself more to know the rules of the game than anything else.
We have to know rules formally and informally pretty well before breaking them effectively.

I also have a unique experience.
Many years ago, I applied for a sales assistant job in one enterprise, but the manager rejected my application.
I asked him if there was any way I could improve my experience to get the job.
He replied that I didn’t have enough sales experience, especially in the electrical appliance business.
I desperately needed a job so I asked one singer whom I knew through one of my extended family members, a kind of budding celebrity at that time, to tell the enterprise manager for the job.
I reapplied for the job.
The enterprise manager called me the next day.
I asked the manager what special quality I have for the job.
The manager replied that for the electrical appliance business, fresh candidates do better jobs than experienced ones because we give them our own special training.
The enterprise manager had no clue that I was the same person applying for the job before.
I wasn’t angry with the enterprise manager at all, I was just learning how to grow wings by myself.

My friend, there is nothing wrong here in the process, any process never becomes transparent to everyone as long as humans are involved in the process.
The world was not transparent before, there are many dark stories, the world is not transparent now, and will remain the same like this for many many years to come.

If you are not tenured after 7 years of teaching, then you need to have uncommon solutions, and for that you have to look in uncommon territories. Keep in mind that you already pass the common territories.
We have to learn to be proactively skeptical in anything but, in your situation, you are showing more of a defensively skeptical attitude.
When we become proactively skeptical, we become more aware of things and surroundings, and consequently, we see more choices.
Please, accept this as my pure private analysis.
I’m no guru by any way.
We always like to do what others are doing but this works only if we are dealing in normal territories.
We have to learn to see the things that others are not seeing, especially when we are in uncharted territories like yours.

My friend, you need your position as a tenured person, keep in mind that only you need, nobody else needs because nobody sees what you see in your life.
I don’t know whether you need or you want this job as a tenured position.
Everyone has their own needs.
Everybody has their own wants.
But there is always a small overlap between this need and want, that is actually called interest.
In the US, when a kid turns 16, they need an iPhone and a car.
That’s not their need actually at the moment, that is their want.
But if we go deeper, this want is a lot bigger in different ways, this want is their symbol to begin their independent adult life.
This is an emotional change for them, but when their life goes on, they find a spot where this want converts into their need.

Accept this, in the beginning, every successful person imitates past successful people in the same field by making a very good human connection before they can innovate themselves.

My friend, teaching is not easy, research is even more difficult, and getting tenureship is more like holding a hot rod in a bare hand.
Here is the hard truth, 99.55% of PhDs will not become professors.
According to a study by the Royal Society of Chemistry, only 0.45% of all PhDs will ever become professors because there are almost no tenured track positions.
I know from my personal experience, up to now in my life, I have done the longest time job is only teaching.
Don’t be discouraged, teaching is not easy in itself, and in addition, research is becoming more and more business in academia.
But if you need a tenured position then you have to make both teaching and research a lot interesting for you.
A lot.
If your job is interesting for you, you will never complain about it to your best friend.

The general rule of life is: whatever we practice we will improve at it, only if the game is interesting for us.

Fifteen years of work experience comes only after spending fifteen years of time.
But our mind is so powerful, if our game is interesting to us, we can research, we can visualize, and we can calibrate the game.
Fifteen years experience can be cut in ten or five years too.
This could be possible only if we can train our mind how to be creative through human tools, human experiences, and human connection.

Remember, human connection is one of the best tools.

People will tell you many different things but the greatest truth behind human connection is: things always move only through person to person.

If the game is interesting to us, we will become experts at handling any tool including person to person.

I wish you all the best.

Thank you for your time.
-Yam Timsina