When I was doing my MA in Hispanic Studies, my thesis adviser would come to my office looking royally peeved and say, “So, Clarissa, you are not doing anything, right? You aren’t doing any research at all, right? You are just sitting here, doing nothing?”
“Professor,” I’d reply, “I’m teaching two courses, taking three courses, writing my dissertation, preparing for two conferences, and writing a SSHRC grant proposal.”
“Yes, exactly!” he would respond. “As I said, you are doing nothing. You need to be publishing. Here is a novel. Read it and write an article. I expect the first draft in two months.”
Then he would leave the office, muttering about “those useless people who just sit there doing nothing.”
That was a leadership style I loved. I was never as productive academically as I had been during those two years in the MA program.
I really appreciate it that the administrators at my current university love and praise me. And it’s nice to go up for review and hear how amazing I am and how everything I do is great. On a personal level, it’s very gratifying.
On a professional level, though, it’s not extremely helpful. Hearing how I’m doing everything just right doesn’t really do anything for me. It isn’t like I’m getting published in the PMLA or churning out books by the year, so obviously there is vast room for improvement.
Instead of hearing, “You got 3 articles accepted for publication, that’s wonderful!”, I’d like to hear, “Three articles, that’s very good. However, one of the journals where you got accepted is not very good. Why are you even submitting to such journals? Are you applying for any grants? Why on Earth not? Why is your goal to submit just 2 articles for publication this year? Can’t you do better? Are you sure this is the best you can do?”
Yes, I am aware that this probably makes me some sort of a masochist but I need for somebody to push me and drive me through negative motivation. I have this very annoying tendency to “like myself the way I am”, and that is very self-defeating.