Notes from the Big Brain Collective as summarized by Research Scholar Emily Monosson

The last Big Brain gathered around the idea of success. What does success mean and what are some challenges for reaching success? Ask a bunch of Ronin Scholars and you’ll get a bunch of different ideas; that’s part of what Ronin is about. Here are a few themes that emerged:

We feel successful when we have balance in our lives, such as for relationships, research, board games and doing whatever we like. Success can also mean personal growth and fulfillment in our work and life, as well as meeting our essential needs and connecting with each other. Not only that, we want to feel engaged and creative doing work that “matters” to us, or that benefits others or “the greater good.” Figuring out what success means can be a moving target–especially as we grow into different phases of our life. 

This isn’t to say that we’ve all achieved whatever our definition of success is. Most of us have experienced plenty of challenges. From lack of confidence and feeling the need for external validation to time management and the more quantifiable financial roadblock: making a living, and funding our research and work. Sometimes it’s hard to find useful professional networks and communities – particularly when the work isn’t quite within the mainstream.  

While there aren’t always easy solutions, we have also found some ways to navigate some of these challenges. Flexibility of the mind can help, including  being open to learning new things and starting with a “beginner’s mind”,  recognize and create what we need, and addressing the nuts and bolts of balance by developing  work-life habits to help us get where we want to be. 

The Big Brain Collective is a group of Ronin Scholars (anyone can join) who periodically gather together to explore our feelings and approaches to our lives, work and work-lives.

Emily Monosson

I am a toxicologist turned writer. Most of what I write is about how we impact the world; and how we can reduce our human footprint. My most recent book Blight: Fungus and the Coming Pandemic (W.W. Norton Press) will be in print Summer 2023. It is about fungal pandemics across species.


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