Lessons from Marie Curie

Would you sign up for this career? For years before you could even begin your profession, you would have to, as a member of a discriminated-against population, work much harder than others in your field to be taken seriously. Then, when an opportunity presents itself—one that you yourself have uncovered through diligence and persistence—you would need to execute three years of tedious, dangerous, unpaid labor to produce one quarter of a teaspoon of a substance that proves your worthiness. You will then share your trade secrets and give away the results of your efforts—again, for no pay—to advance your cause. But a few years later, you win the Nobel Prize, and change the world forever. Would you do it?

This is a slice in the life of scientist Marie Curie, who along with her husband Pierre, proved and shared the existence of the element radium, which has impacted our world on a huge scale (radiation cancer treatments as an example).

I first learned about Marie in middle school, but have been reading about her again as part of my quest to stay inspired about some work I’m executing. There are parts of my efforts that have seemed daunting, but after revisiting Marie’s path, my challenges seem laughable.

We’re coming to the end of 2017. Remember those career goals you set for yourself back in January? Have you, like me, let some speed bumps slow your results? I’ll be the first to own that I’ve spent too much time navel gazing, and not enough on powering through the tough stuff. If the goals are truly important (and to me, they are), minor roadblocks need to be treated that way.

So I’m exiting 2017 with a bang. Until the month wraps up (and on into 2018), I’m channeling Marie’s doggedness and dedication. The steps I to make significant progress are much more within my grasp than Marie’s ever were, so any excuses I’ve been harboring have been banished. To quote the great scientist herself, “You must never be fearful about what you are doing if it is right.”


Photo credit: Biography.com