Michael Quick, a biology professor in the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and director of the neuroscience graduate program, gave students the benefit of his life lessons learned in the latest event in the “What Matters to Me & Why” speaker series.
On Nov. 30 at the GroundZero coffeehouse, he shared his “Top 10 Myths About the World That I Thought Were Truths When I Was 20 Years Old.” Here’s the list, along with some of Quick’s comments.
1. The Myth of Early Commitment or Whatever You Decide at Age 18 Is What You Do the Rest of Your Life. This is a dangerous one, and makes you inflexible.
2. The Myth of the Universal Scorecard and Its Corollary: The Myth of Imprecise Definitions. Avoid putting a scorecard in place when there isn’t a scorecard. Also, there’s a difference between “abnormal” in the psychological definition and “abnormal,” meaning I don’t agree with the norm.
3. The Myth of Passionate Commitment. It is possible to do something well even if you aren’t really, really committed to it.
4. The Myth of Objectivity. This is when you look around and think that everyone has his or her life together but you.
5. The Myth of Adulthood and Its Corollary: The Myth of Aging. As a child, you think adulthood is a mystery club where you find all the answers. When you get to the age your parents were, you realize that your parents and other adults didn’t have a clue. They were just doing the best they could.
6. The Myth of the Rational Mind. We think we use logic and deep rational thought to make decisions. In reality, we make emotional decisions unconsciously and use all of our cortex to rationalize them.
7. The Myth of Mistakes, Learning From. You don’t learn from mistakes. The best you’re going to do is be able to see your mistakes coming sooner.
8. The Myth of Teaching. Learner-centered education is overrated. They say we don’t want “the sage on the stage,” and I think that’s exactly what we need. The only value in teaching is that it excites students. What motivated me was people who made learning exciting and fun and sexy.
9. The Myth of Happiness, Pursuit of. We’re not supposed to be happy all the time. Happiness comes in little blips. Evolution meant us to struggle, engage ourselves in the world and overcome problems.
10. The Myth of “Somebody Else.” Why is somebody else The Next Great Thing, smarter or faster or more passionate than me? Why are other people the ones who are going to change the world? You are those people!
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