It was a shinning, warm day in Golden, Colorado. I got an opportunity to join Dr George Aiken from USGS with couple of his students to drink beer after a seminar. This kind of social party always provides a rare opportunity to peek into the heart of professors and their lifestyle. Because, it is the only place where they talk something other than study (though topics might be related to it). During this conversation, he talked about one of his current student and how he would remember him because of his non-complaining attitude. The student slept in a bath tub in a hotel room when he has to share with 2 other guy a room that has no space during a conference visit. He went on saying that he always liked to give this example to future students who could complain about many things related to academic work.
This is a good example about how a professor might remember you after you are gone. Sure, hard work provides the base to have any relationship with your mentor or guide. But most likely someone else is going to work harder than you. But it is one of this funny moment for which you will be remembered by your advisor or your friends. Naturally, people don’t like to be around any person who always complains about life without doing anything about it. Think about someone who is cheerful and someone gloomy. Who makes you happier? Life has its ups and down and we may share difficult moments with friends and family. One accepts it or not, chronic complaining habit does take a toll on one’s vision to progress. Sometimes they are so busy to play a victim role by complaining that they shut down all possible door that could have led to a better life. Focusing too much on problem outside may blur our vision of solution behind it. It is true for both personal and professional life.
Some of us can take offense or become defensive when anyone brings a topic about “whining”. This is because we all, to some extent, complain about things happening around us. How many of us go out-of-the-way to fix the part that is contributing to the misery. It is a discussion for another day whether we recognize that or not. Either way, the beer party at Golden did bring something positive to my life even though I am not drinking alcohol anymore.