Going the distance

When the stakes are high, take a break from distractions

By Edward T. Creagan, M. D. September 15, 2016

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In the academic world, there's clear hierarchy of advancement.

From instructor to assistant professor to associate professor to full professor, there are clear and rigid requirements to go from one rung on the ladder to the next.

Each requirement typically consists of professional presentations at meetings, publications in prestigious journals, as well as taking certain examinations. But let me tell you the rest of the story.

While visiting another country, I connected over lunch with a colleague whom I'd known for many years. He was bright, energetic, affable, and clearly destined for stardom. He was at the assistant professor level and had all of the tickets to move up the ranks. One of the requirements of his institution was to pass a certifying examination.

When I met with him he was bummed; he was distracted. He flunked the exam even though he had meticulously prepared. So what happened? He was the victim of information overload. He did not take a "media fast" prior to the exam. There were some difficult developments in his community. He became distracted, and this clearly knocked him off the rails and decreased his focus to take the exam.

The message is real clear. When stakes are high, when you have to seal the deal, shut off the Internet for a while so you can give it your best shot or the results won't reflect your true talent.


Edward T. Creagan, M. D.

Follow on Twitter: @EdwardCreagan

Join the discussion at #Stress.

Sept. 15, 2016