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When Ego Gets Beyond 40%

Posted on December 4, 2007

Jay Belsky (bio) talks about the balance between ego and curiosity.


In the field of science it’s the authors, the investigators who are cited. That builds egos, and it puts egos at center stage. And I think there’s a tension over time between pursuing curiosity and serving ego. And there’s nothing wrong with that tension, but I came to realize many years ago probably that when ego gets beyond 40% and curiosity gets below 60%, the whole ship risks getting out of whack and tipping over because if you’re being ego driven and it’s fame and fortune, you’re going to lose your way.

That if you can’t hold onto the curiosity and the fascination that presumably and hopefully brought you into this field - because if it didn’t I don’t want you here, because without curiosity and fascination science is lost - if you can’t hold onto that, your ship’s going to tip over. You may be “successful,” but it’s going to be an empty shell of success. And it’s not going to be sustainable.

I’m always, always, always amazed at you can go to meetings, and you can see people who are 20, 40, 60 even 80 years of age and they still have the sparkle in the eye. They’re still intellectually curious. They’re still fascinated. It keeps you young. It keeps you alive, and at its best that’s what science has to offer that so few fields really do.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2007 SRCD Biennial Meeting in Boston, MA.


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