The business we’ve chosen

It is important to keep trying to find ways of guiding our students through rough times in research. As advisors, we have been there before and it is useful to ensure that our students know that things are cyclical by nature and good times tend to follow the bad ones if you give it 100% of your effort. Some people go to prominent figures from the past for motivational language. But there are too many cliché quotes out there and I am not particularly fond of them because they state the obvious and sound dogmatic. For instance, we know that Churchill said: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” It is true, but this statement tends to rub some people the wrong way.

So here’s a quote that’s rarely mentioned, yet it is a good one. It comes from one of the best movies ever made (Godfather, part II). Earlier today I was reminded about it when I heard that some of my students have not seen this film (really?). In the second part of the Godfather trilogy, Michael Corleone visits Hyman Roth and hints at his shady involvement behind the scenes, which triggers Roth’s jab back at Michael that ends by a CLASSIC “…This is the business we’ve chosen”. Check this out (he says it at about 2:24):

Those who decide on a career in science do it for reasons other than money. Their commitment to pursue knowledge creation is admirable. Yet, once in a while when we ruminate, there is a tendency to forget that we have voluntarily chosen this difficult, yet intellectually rewarding, path… Indeed, this is the business we’ve chosen.

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