On competitiveness and teamwork

Tim Ferriss “Tools of Titans” is pretty high up on my Christmas wish list this year, so when I saw that one of the most recent episodes of his podcast was a narration of a chapter on Josh Waitzkin, I had to give it a listen. Pretty early on in the narration, Tim offers up his own opinion on sharing his “secrets to podcasting success”. While Waitzkin says that his mentor gave up his martial arts secrets to give himself a competitive edge, as it would force his opponents to fight him in the way he’s most comfortable with, Ferriss says he’s transparent about his working routines for very different reasons.

He said, and I’m paraphrasing, that the podcasting world is rarely a “zero sum game”, meaning that if someone “wins” or do well, it doesn’t mean that someone has to “lose”. The more detailed help you give, the more detailed help you’ll get, and if someone is to surpass you, or find a better way of doing what you’ve taught them, they’ll more often than not tell you what they did to improve your methods.

In my opinion, this applies to academia as well. What I love about my study group is that when we find helpful videos, great answers to questions or whatever else can be useful, we share it. My thoughts on this are that if I’m transparent, they will be as well. That goes for commiserating when we feel like there are things we don’t understand as well. The better they do, the better I do, and if we all take a stab at the same problems and try out, and improve each others' methods, we’re all better off for it. As with the podcasting world, this is not a zero sum game.

Completely unrelated picture I took of the school horses the other day. I tried to pet one of them, but as you can see from the sceptical look I was given they were not having any of it.

Completely unrelated picture I took of the school horses the other day. I tried to pet one of them, but as you can see from the sceptical look I was given they were not having any of it.

Initially, this post was only going to be named “on competitiveness”, but after writing it, I realize that it’s just as much an homage to teamwork. Remember, vet school is, in our case, a 6-year degree. You’ll need all the help, support, late-night Ikea trips, movie nights, and fun you can get. Better make the most of it!