Personal growth is an integral part of every individual’s life. It is a continuous process of self-improvement, learning, and self-discovery. Also, as a statistician you should always be on a quest for personal and professional development. The journey towards growth is unique, and understanding yourself is a critical step towards achieving your potential.

In this 300th episode, I discuss the three things about yourself that could make a significant difference in your career and personal development. While many self-help resources exist, this episode provides practical insights into understanding yourself better.

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Three Things to Learn About Yourself That Will Make a Huge Difference

[00:00:00] Alexander: Welcome to another episode of The Effective Statistician, and this is episode 300. I am super, super happy about this. Someone have would’ve told me. Six years ago, you’ll have 300 episodes and you will have over 200,000 cumulative downloads, and you will have over 5,000 downloads per month. I would’ve said, you are completely crazy.

I looked a little bit into what helped me with this, what helped me to achieve that, what helped me to be consistent with the publishing, what helped me to do the things that really scared me. And I looked into this and I also read a lot about it, and I looked into what makes others successful, what makes others stand out.

And today I’m not so much talking about the strategy around this. Yeah. So the leadership innovations, the knowledge and the excellence that they’re very often referred to in this podcast as a strategy to develop your success and have a successful career. I will talk a little bit about what you need to change within yourself potentially, and where a lot of us have actually problems or struggle with, and me included for sure.

There’s three things that I want to talk to about today. That make a huge impact and couple of years ago, I wasn’t aware about this. I just couldn’t imagine how much they have an impact. But in hindsight, it’s pretty clear that lots of these things have either helped me or the lack of these have blocked me from my success. S o let’s start with the first one.

The first one is self-confidence. Self-confidence automatically hinders us quite a lot. If, for example, you lack self-confidence, you only set yourself small goals. You can’t even think about really big ones, you don’t allow yourself to think about big ones. I can remember when I was early in my career and I had my first mentor from US who was couple of levels above me. And he asked me about what are my career aspirations? And I said I would really love to be a group leader with really good technical knowledge.

So basically, having 2, 3, 4, maybe direct reports and doing lots of technical things and these type of things. I was already a couple of years into my career. At the time I had a PhD. I was at my second company. It was a really small goal. Why did I set such a small goal for my career? Yeah. But if you can think about it, my career was still decades long. I set this small goal because I lacked self-confidence. If you only allow yourself to think in small steps, only allow yourself to think small for yourself. You will only get these small things. Yeah, only the big things. These things are the things that you can achieve and you can dream of, and you can think of, and you can write down for yourself as a goal if you’re self-confident.

There’s a really famous quote by Steve Jobs that I always think about. The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world as the ones who do. So people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world as ones who do I repeat this because I really want you to remember about this.

We can change the world. You can change the world. You can do much more than you think. If you’re listening to this, you probably have finished a university degree in statistics and biostatistics, any kind of these kind of fields. Maybe you already have a PhD, maybe you already got your first promotion.

You are at the top of knowledge about data around the world. There’s only very few people in the world that know more about data and how to analyze them and how to communicate them, how to design studies, all these kind of different things than you. And we need you to step up. We need you to step up and change the world, and we can change the world by bringing new medicines to market, by making them available to more patients.

By making sure that patients, physicians, regulators, internal stakeholders, have the right evidence at the right time to make the right decisions, and that is changing the world. Now you can do even more. You can just learn more, invest more in yourself. You can share your knowledge with others, and that’s how we change the world one step at a time. But don’t think about your job as just something small. Through your job, you can do quite amazing things and do them. Don’t say I’ll try. There’s another really nice quote that I have in my head. Whenever people say to me, yeah, I’ll try, I think about Yoda. Yoda, if you’re not a star Wars fan.

Yoda is the senior mentor that helps the hero, Luke Skywalker. And the typical thing in every story you have this mentors that helps the hero to overcome the challenges, and the hero doesn’t believe in himself. And so when Yoda does a master challenge him, To do something. He says, okay, I’ll try.

And then Yoda stops him and says, do or do not. There is no try. When I first watched the movie, I didn’t really understand what it means. Do or do not. There’s no try. If you say, I’ll try, you basically don’t believe in yourself. You don’t think you can do it, you’ll try it, and then you can say, yeah I knew it before, it won’t work.

And that will be a self-fulfilling prophecy because, You think you believe you can’t do it because of that, you can’t do it. There’s another Yoda quote about this. Do or do not? There’s no try. Decide to do it, to achieve it. Don’t write your goals like I’ll try to whatsoever. Or think about yourself. Ah, yeah, I’ll give it a try. No, do it.

It’s like we see famous sports tech. Just do it. Don’t say, just try it. No, just do it. You have a lot that you can stand on, and now I’ll give you a quick tip on how to improve your self-confidence. I give this tip nowadays to all my students in the leadership program at the beginning. I found out about this tip a couple of years ago, and I think it’s really useful.

Start with having a success diary every day. Note down the three things you are really proud about and these will not be I did a phase three submission, or I got a paper accepted, or these kind of big things. Majority of the times cease will be small things and all these small swings lead over time to bigger things.

Could be something like, I have spoken up in this bigger meeting, or I said no to this request, or I presented in this big auditorium. So increase your self-confidence. Now, there is one important thing, don’t let it turn into arrogance. I have seen really senior people that are arrogant, they think, say no at all. They pretend, they no at all. This is the wrong part. Yeah, and this has to do a lot.

What I think with the next really key ingredient, and it’s closely related Courage. Now, courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to decide and act in spite of you. The tagline in my LinkedIn profile is Fierce reaction.

Courages a decision. And this is because I think courageous doesn’t mean absence of fear. If you think about, the heroes whatsoever, we rather often think about them. Yes, they’re fearless. No, the real heroes do feel fear. But they do it instead. They do it despite the fear. And fear comes nowadays in lots of different forms, and it’s very often very similar across different people.

Yeah, so fear for rejection is very frequent. This is really no surprise given that we are social animals. Yeah, just think about yourself and put yourself back tens of thousands of years. Alone, you will die. So you need to stick with the group. And we fear rejection from the group. We fear rejection from our supervisor, from the peers, from all the other people we work with.

That is completely normal. Now, courage is to act despite severe. One of the really important things that come up again and again in our leadership program where we help statisticians to become more effective, more influential, and this has nothing to do just with supervisory skills. This is for everybody, especially junior people, stay quiet in meetings.

Because say fear that say will be rejected, that say will not be heard, that say will be laughed at. All. These kind of things, they need to develop the courage to speak up. Another problem that I see all the time is that people pick up too much work. They, don’t say no. And honestly, I have been there. I’m still very often there.

I completely get that. Saying no is difficult. You need to have the courage to say no, otherwise you’ll not be successful. People who set boundaries are far more successful and people generally understand that you need to set boundaries. Another courage is to make a proposal that is a little bit unusual.

Yeah. Something that you haven’t been doing before that the team haven’t, hasn’t tried before. Another real big problem is speaking in front of a larger group.

A lot of people would rather die. Then speaking in front of a big group, train yourself. Make steps to speak in bigger and bigger organizations in front of bigger and more senior people.

You get used to it over time, but you need to each time find the courage for yourself to speak in front of this larger audience. Another really important thing is the courage to admit you made a mistake. I’m personally not very good at that. I know that. And I know it is really important from a cultural point of view that you can learn from mistakes, and that only works if people are courageous enough to admit they made a mistake.

Have the courage to ask for help. I really learned this when I was traveling to the PSI conference on crutches and with a wheelchair. I needed help very often. And don’t know, there’s this kind of weird thing in my head that I really needed to face that I needed to ask for help. It is the same thing that I see and hear about younger people very often. And it’s also true for most senior people. They don’t wanna say that they don’t know and that they need help.

In an earlier episode with Walt Offen, he speaks about this, that being humble and asking for help is courageous. May you need to find your courage. To quit your existing job and to find something, find an environment where you can grow, where you are not limited by the constraints, where you are not asked to, run really fast with one foot bent behind your back. Quitting a job and going into an uncertain, newer organization requires courageous, requires courage.

If you need any help with that, I can highly recommend that you head over to Clevoffective is networks that I started together with two recruiters. Who really know what they’re doing, where we help people to find the new position for them that really fits their needs. And this is not just another kind of recruiting stuff.

This is really targeted to statisticians, data scientists, programmers, and everything is reviewed by me. So I really make sure that’s the right people go into the right jobs. And there’s No hassle. In terms of you get asked whether you’re interested in a job that is really no fit for you. Okay, quick side note.

Be courageous to be more out there. Be courageous to post on LinkedIn to make you more visible. Be courageous to delegate more. Lots of people fear that things will go south and don’t trust the other people and whatsoever, or that it is their job to do these kind of things. No, delegate something. As a supervisor, especially as a supervisor. Find the courage to provide feedback, of course, provide a lot of supportive feedback, but also provides the feedback to correct unhealthy behavior.

We do a lot of things out of here, or we refrain from doing many things out of here. So you first need to understand what is the fear that’s holding you back. Reflect on, current of situations in the past days, in the past week where you said, oh actually I should have done something differently, or I should have acted, or I should have spoken up, or I should have grabbed this opportunity.

What was the fears that was holding you back? Another Yoda quote named Must be your Fear before Banish it you can. Name must be your fear before benefit as you can. So like Luke Skywalker, understand what is the fear that holds your back.

Now let’s step into the third aspect, and that is your intrinsic motivation. Why do you come to work every day? Yes, you need to get paid and all these other things, but what really drives you? I had an aha moment when my little son asked me about Daddy, what do you do at work? It was five years at the time, and I needed to condense it down to the most basic, most important thing.

I needed to think about it for a couple of seconds. And then I said, daddy works for a company that helps sick people to get healthier. I learned a lot more about my intrinsic motivation through the sickness of my mother. The diseases of our kids. Were I wanted to make the right decision, and of course I looked into the data, the studies and so on, and was really frustrated about the situation. A situation where even I as an expert not truly a medical expert, but a data expert, couldn’t understand the data or couldn’t follow the data, or the data was just not there, or the data was really, the data wasn’t appropriately communicated, so I understand that. That really helped me to understand, okay, my motivation is to provide the right data, it’s the right time, the right format so that people can make good decisions.

Internal stakeholders at companies. Regulators, payers, physicians, patients, their caregivers, all of these, all these different stakeholders needs the right evidence at the right time in a format that is helpful for them. And we need statisticians play a central role on this. We are the multipliers. We can ensure that the right data and the right format is at the right place at the right time.

We can train others so that they can communicate it well. We can deliver it in useful formats so that it can be easily further communicated. And yes, this is very often not the table. We can. Make sure that in early clinical research, we have the right information to kill a product, kill a molecule, that will not be worth further investing in it.

We need to be good in providing the right information so that we have the right. Decision about the dose or whether we move forward in phase two and how the clinical study look should look like, that we have enough information about the safety aspects that we can show, yes, we are safe enough, we can understand also rare events here.

We understand the frequent ones and how we can communicate these, all these kind of things. We have all the right information in the right format for regulatory approval of course, but also so that we have enough data so that payers being IT insurance companies or sick funds or national payers, that they have the right information.

Another big area for me is all the different people said talk. Two external stakeholders like medical, scientific liaisons, sales reps, key account managers, they talk to really important stakeholders outside. Let’s make sure that they understands the data and that they have the tools to communicate the data appropriately.

Lastly, let’s make sure that when physicians and their patients and their caregivers discuss about the different treatment options, that they also understand what is the right evidence. So this is, for me really big intrinsic motivation. It doesn’t necessarily need to be for you, but I know for lots of us statisticians in the industry, that is probably a variation of this.

What else drives you? What are the things that really you value? What are the things that you are proud about? What are the things that you will be want to be remembered for? What are the things that you talk to your parents, your friends, your kids about that make you proud?

This will help you to understand what is your intrinsic motivation, and if you have the right intrinsic motivation, you can step back into this, and from there you can take the courage to act. You can think I really wanna make sure that we have the right data. This is my motivation. So that’s why I have the courage to speak up and say, Hey, we need to do something different here.

Or you can speak up and say, no, let’s don’t do this study. This will not help us. Let’s invest into something else. Or let’s make the communication of our data more accessible, more understandable. And every time you find the courage, write it down. This will build your confidence and then you will grow. You will personally grow.

Three things. Understand your intrinsic motivation, build your courage, and build your self-confidence.

This was episode 300 of The Effective Statistician. I’m super stoked about this and I very long thought about what is the right content for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope it was something that really helped you moving forward. If you love this episode, if you love other episodes, please tell others about it.

Sharing is caring. Post about it on LinkedIn, share it with your colleagues, with your friends, and if you post it on LinkedIn, feel free to tag me. I’ll definitely reply. I’ll definitely get back to you. I always laugh talking to listeners. I have met lots of different listeners at the PSI conference and afterwards, please reach out. I wanna build this community of statisticians that make a big difference in our industry and with that in our world so we can change the world.

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I want to help the community of statisticians, data scientists, programmers and other quantitative scientists to be more influential, innovative, and effective. I believe that as a community we can help our research, our regulatory and payer systems, and ultimately physicians and patients take better decisions based on better evidence.

I work to achieve a future in which everyone can access the right evidence in the right format at the right time to make sound decisions.

When my kids are sick, I want to have good evidence to discuss with the physician about the different therapy choices.

When my mother is sick, I want her to understand the evidence and being able to understand it.

When I get sick, I want to find evidence that I can trust and that helps me to have meaningful discussions with my healthcare professionals.

I want to live in a world, where the media reports correctly about medical evidence and in which society distinguishes between fake evidence and real evidence.

Let’s work together to achieve this.