Trained as a journalist (B.A. Journalism, magna cum laude; M.A. Health & Medical Journalism),Kathleen Raven’s ability to write for different audiences has propelled her career. She has written about science as a university news writer, an intern at Nature Medicine, a freelancer for Reuters Health and most recently, as a healthcare reporter for the financial industry. Her science background (M.S. Ecology) taught Kathleen analytical skills and ‘the whole is more than the sum of parts’ approach to problem-solving. She writes on any topic but specializes in solid tumor oncology, drug research and development and biomedical advances.
A Key Talent | Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous line sums up a strength I think every successful person should nurture. “Do one thing every day that scares you,” she said. This approach, with practice, can morph into a talent, as it has for me. The talent translates to a skill: the ability to handle tough situations well. Career, relationship, financial and physical health successes are built upon daily decisions. The scarier the choice the greater the potential benefit.
From my earliest memories, I recall how just the thought of playing with my peers frightened me. Playtime stories and jokes zoomed past me unheard due to my severe-to-moderate hearing loss I’d had since birth. Eventually, hearing aids began to solve this problem, but the early, large-sized devices created another issue by making me physically unlike my friends. Rather than spend lots of time alone with books – though I did that, too – I forced myself to go to birthday parties and sleepovers. Every experience left my social skills a little bit stronger.
Today I still look for situations and opportunities to pursue that are outside my comfort zone. I’m from a small, rural town in Georgia, and I moved to New York to further my career. I’m teaching myself to learn Dutch and German languages. I attempt to make connections with leaders in my field knowing that the worst they can say is simply, “No.”
My advice for those at any point in their career is to spend a few moments at the beginning of every day to visualize a couple of key choices that will need to be made that day. The choice could be to pack a gym bag so that you can exercise during the day. The choice could be to accept (or not) a job opportunity in a new city. Perhaps you can think of a contact in your network that you would like to meet for lunch or coffee to establish a mentor relationship. The choices are endless – and each one builds up your career.
The Characteristics Of Success | I have a lot of empathy – not sympathy – for others. I am constantly trying to put myself in others’ shoes. This leads to a habit of constantly thinking about others and as such I’ve been able to maintain a large network of professional and personal contacts. I remember a person’s key interest, and when I come across it, I try to let the person know I’m thinking of him/her by sending a note via social media or email. For example, one of my good friends loves foxes. I saw a T-shirt with a fox on it at a conference and sent it to her. In our fast-paced world, the attempt understand the feelings and emotions of others may seem like a waste of time. On the contrary, as our actions become more automated and accentuated by technology, I think that empathy will be a key characteristic of success.
Principles I Live By |
Spend time with family and friends.
Visit as many foreign countries as possible.
Eat fruits and vegetables as often as you can. Food is our energy – make it count.
Read, read, read. Poetry, fiction, non-fiction.
Write hand-written letters.
Love yourself first.
Deep breathing really does help with stress.
Get enough sleep.
Dealing With Doubt | I have a lot of anxiety. A psychiatrist might call it “generalized anxiety disorder.” Who knows where it comes from, but I imagine genetics and my early social fears each play a role. Anxiety can be so crippling. It interferes with the brain’s ability to move logically from thought to thought. It causes physical health problems like weight loss/gain, lack of sleep or gastrointestinal issues. At its worst, anxiety is an invisible shield that completely prevents a person from working efficiently toward her goals. Lessons must be learned over and over again because they bounce off the shield initially. I’ve learned to conquer my anxiety three ways. First, I seek professional help when it becomes too much to bear. Second, I always acknowledge it instead of trying to pretend it’s not there. Third, I start questioning the thoughts that lead to the anxiety. For example, my mind could say, “You just performed horribly, and you’ve made this mistake before, so now improvement is a lost cause.” But I’ve gotten much better at interrupting these thoughts. What was “horrible” about my performance? How bad was the mistake, in the grand scheme? What improvement have I made before? What is different about this situation?
Go ahead, make Socrates proud with your lines of questioning.
Advice On Building Wealth | Never focus on the money. The moment you focus on salary, you lose your focus. First you must ask yourself: what holds my attention and what am I good at? When you find a match with these two, then the wealth will follow. Also, start a savings account as soon as possible and put aside money – any amount – each week. NEVER dip into the savings. When you retire, you will be wealthy.
The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | A while ago, I discovered a woman named Dame Kathleen Annie Raven. She has an entry page on Wikipedia — the ultimate measure of “Legacy” today, no?! Over the years I’ve become fascinated with her story. She, like me, was born in November, and grew up in a rural area, albeit in England. Through hard work and gumption, she became a leader in the field of nursing. She did not win any huge award, and she is not a household name. She appears to be an ordinary person who – especially for her time – did some extraordinary things.
For my part, I am an advocate of women’s rights and the prevention of violence and sexual harassment against women. My goal is to stand up for other women as often as possible and using as many different channels as possible. I hope, by the end of my life, these individual actions will amount to a sum equal to “making a difference” in the lives of others.
*Photo credit – Jessica Lily