Put passion ahead of training

I’m in the middle of EO Wilson’s Letters to a Young Scientist. The book is wonderfully autobiographical, filled with delightful little anecdotes of how to make a specimen-collecting net from an old coat hanger, and his adventures trapping snakes (including getting bitten by one much to the consternation of the scout camp leader!).

Anyway, I loved this quote:

“My confessional instead is intended to illustrate an important principle I’ve seen unfold in the careers of many successful scientists. It is quite simple: put passion ahead of training. Feel out in any way you can what you most want to do in science, or technology, or some other science-related profession. Obey that passion as long as it lasts. Feed it with the knowledge the mind needs to grow. Sample other subjects, acquire a general education in science, and be smart enough to switch to a greater love if one appears. But don’t just drift through courses in science hoping that love will come to you. Maybe it will, but don’t take the chance. As in other big choices in your life , there is too much at stake. Decision and hard work based on enduring passion will never fail you.”

E.O. Wilson (2013), Letters to a Young Scientist, p25

A reminder to ask with fresh eyes each day – who is this child before me, what are they passionate about, how can I support them?

Passion fuels joyful learning.

– Paul