If you are too attached to the outcome of a specific thing like the decision on a grant or paper submission, you are more likely to fail at that thing.

Does this sound crazy to you?

It is not. Eastern philosophies like Zen have taught this for centuries. I never “got it” until recently.

A discussion with a successful senior colleague illustrates.

We talked about grant funding, and he said that he has rarely failed to get a grant in his whole career. He attributed this to one simple thing: he was never fearful about the outcome. He just focused on writing the best grant possible – and enjoying the doing of the thing – rather than focusing on outcome.

When he started as faculty in the late 60’s, there were two important factors that helped with this sense of detachment:
1. almost everyone who was doing good science and getting published could get a grant if they wanted one, and
2. the career pressures to have a lot of grant funding were much less than they are now.

In fact, his first rejection didn’t come until 10 years or so into his career, giving him a tremendous head start in his confidence that funding wouldn’t be a problem for him.

When I think back to my successful grants, all of the writing was done with this same sense of detachment. It was often very hard to get in that frame of mind, but once I did, e grant would flow and be almost enjoyable to write.

If you are stressed out and worried about the outcome of the grant or paper you are writing, then you are hurting your chances of getting that thing.

To get more grant writing tips like this, grab your free copy of the“8 concepts of grant writing success.” report


    1 Response to "Detach yourself or fail!"

    • Sukumar

      A certain amount of detachment keeps your stress level down. It also helps you be critical of your own work. Of course, being too critical leads to negativity and you will then never submit that grant proposal, because you’re not sure it’ll work. But a grant proposal is not a proof of a mathematical theorem. Stepping back helps you evaluate your own work more impartially. If you have difficulty doing this in the beginning, try to find a colleague who will play the devil’s advocate.

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