We scientists all have a little bit of the Mad Scientist in us. And some of that is probably healthy.
1. They’ll never understand my genius!
“Those fools in the Society. They’ll never understand me and my genius. The FOOLS!”
Well, this is true to an extent. You are the person most qualified to evaluate yourself and appreciate yourself. Sure it’s great to get recognition from others but you need to be your own worst critic – and your own biggest fan. Nobody appreciates your genius. Actually most people don’t know you exist. You have to have confidence that you’re doing great work. You should have a kind of quiet insanity that allows you to push through when nobody seems to be supporting you or even noticing you (which is a good bit of the time- people in the Society are really busy with their own plans.) If you don’t think you’re doing great work maybe it’s time for a change. So you need to show them. Show them ALL…..
2. Push the bounds
What self-respecting mad scientist dreams of taking over the world in incremental advances? None of them that’s who. You have to think BIG! Of course, given the constraints imposed by life and those expensive mortgage payments on your tropical island secret lab you’re likely to have to do more than a little incremental work. I guess my advice (aimed at myself as much as anyone else) is have at least one BIG thing you’re working toward that all those small-time evil gigs are work to support. Have VISION and a willingness to carry it through.
3. Find good help
Minions. You’ve got to have minions. But not just any minions-
good ones. They’re hard to find but can be crucial to your successful world domination. If you’ve got a plan, chances are it’s a big plan. Working away in your secret lab by yourself quickly becomes impossible. You need people. Smart people who understand your vision. In my opinion this may be more important than their specific skills since if they don’t sign on with the vision they’re not going to be minions for long. And having minions gives you a lot of warm bodies between yourself and those pesky heroes who are out for your blood.
4. Be dedicated to the plan, even in the face of utter defeat
Yes, it’s true unfortunately. Your grand plans are likely to be foiled. Over and over again. Yes it sucks. But you have to keep moving forward and take those little victories when you can (and the big ones too). Failure is actually the name of the game in science. When the dastardly Reviewer 3 raises his/her red pen of dream smiting you need to be ready to respond and absorb the good and ignore the bad.
5. Have crazy, intimidating hair.
This last one is important. Very important. You’ve got to have the hair (Dr. Evil notwithstanding)- lots of scary, intimidating hair. It helps to keep your minions in line and to frighten off your enemies. But seriously, there’s a hint of truth here- about being judiciously intimidating, not the hair part per se. You may not be doing any favors to your minions by being super nice to them all the time, and this may not promote critical thinking and personal growth. Dr. Isis has a great post about this– specifically regarding women in science but I think it applies to all mentors/mentees (in different ways clearly). I am certainly more like the first example she uses, the nice guy mentor who is very encouraging. But lately I’ve started to see how this can backfire- especially with some people- and end up not being helpful for anyone involved.
Happy Halloween and good luck taking over the world! (you’re going to need it)