The Luck of the Nobel Laureates

While on holiday in Stockholm, we visited the Nobel Museum just off the main street in the Old District of town.

It is a small museum filled with stories and artifacts from the greatest minds of the past 111 years. In one room ran a constant stream of videos from different Nobel winners describing their work and their award.

While there were many similarities to what many of them said such as having a visionary ideal, or being dedicated and focused, there was one that particular quality that stood out for me.

James Watson and Francis Crick, who discovered the arrangement of DNA, our basic biological structure, described the certainty they felt about how luck played a critical role in their work. Crick, a British researcher decided he needed to change his field of study from physics to molecular biology (a change that he said was a chance decision to be more “adventurous.”) The researchers went on to describe how the luck of finding each other and their complimentary styles led to a logical path of discovery. In summarizing their good luck, they both believed that their timing was perfect. The field was evolving quickly and new techniques set the stage for discovering the double helix.

We oftentimes don’t understand why good or bad things seem to happen. I’ve always believed that there are more powerful forces in the universe operating in our lives than our best efforts alone. Building a path to resilience means respecting and honoring these forces without giving them all the credit or blame.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017


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