An assistant professor in the social sciences once described a group of tenure-track colleagues in his department as “the lamenting society.” Once a week they met for lunch to complain about, well, everything and everyone. At first, attendance at this conclave of the irate exhilarated him: He felt better knowing other people were as unhappy there as he was. But over time he noticed that: (a) nobody in the group offered any solutions to the evils they cited, (b) some of the “cataclysms” seemed petty or imaginary, and (c) he felt increasingly drained by all the negativity.

In contrast, I know of a group of young faculty members who periodically gather for the weekend to work intensively on their individual research, and encourage one another. These “boot camps” have markedly increased their productivity.

Which group of peers do you think would have a more positive impact on your quest for tenure?

Are you getting caught up with enablers, disablers, and time-wasters?  Worried you will be as the tenure clock ticks? Read David Pearlmutter’s advice on how to pick the right academic friends at The Chronicle of Higher Ed.

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