Think Globally. Act Locally.



Perfection and Effort 

A simple yet complex lesson from a conference.

This week, I’m immersing myself in the future of brain research at the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting. Although some talks and posters I visited flew over my head, I gathered some insightful reflections in my trusty notebook.

At a career talk, a panelist shared a simple yet impactful thought that resonated with me:

Think Globally and Act Locally.

It’s easy to be critical of career advice, as many struggle to articulate their journey. Even the very strategic technicians can’t account for the occasional left hook of life.

This phrase, though familiar, perhaps from a video, podcast, or a T-shirt, took on new meaning as I reflected on it in relation to my career and the broader world.

I’ve been trying to carve out time for open-ended reading, learning, and wondering. As my previous essays might suggest, I tend to build large, indefinite ideas, often running myself into the ground and losing motivation. This habit also results in excessive self-criticism, energy drain, disrupted sleep patterns, missed workouts, and resorting to takeout more often than I’d like.

This pattern makes it harder to think creatively and easier to fall into the comparison trap, forgetting the importance of compassion.

What does acting locally mean to me right now?

It means embodying the values I cherish and hoping that living according to them causes a ripple effect for optimism and authenticity.

I’m re-evaluating my core values through self-care and committing to daily practices like meditation, exercise, writing, and expressing gratitude. These steps have made a noticeable difference. I have more energy, look forward to each day, and am less critical of myself.

Will I slip up?

Does Usher dance?

Does DC miss the pandas?

Absolutely. I’ve already missed a day of meditation and sometimes get so engrossed in other activities that I neglect my writing goals.

But that’s okay.

I’m striving to be the fullest version of myself, hoping that doing my part can encourage others to seek positive change for themselves.

We’re all imperfect, striving for an unattainable perfection, like approaching an asymptote without ever reaching it.

On the topic of thinking globally, this is a bit more complex. I know the words will not be exactly right, but I will try.

In my childhood, I relished the anticipation of pen-pal exchanges, eagerly waiting for letters from distant friends in the classroom. I liked this concept so much that I even scoured pen-pal websites to connect with individuals worldwide. I could learn what their country was like, their aspirations, their hobbies, and their daily routine. Snail mail brought an innocent anticipation, which was sorely missed when the exchanges stopped, a precursor to modern-day ‘ghosting.’

Now, instant internet connections have replaced this wait, but the curiosity about global lives persists.

You can get language lessons on YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok.

You can learn about another country’s political system in real-time and get questions answered on X-itter/mastodon/threads/etc.

Yet, this easy access to connection and information comes with challenges, such as misinformation and declining civic engagement. Cynicism festers. Returning to personal bubbles is tempting, but we must resist this and instead engage in informed discussions and avoid oversimplification.

The reality is that most of us will never be able to make global decisions directly, but there is power in a collective that aims to promote and share the values that should be reflected in those who do get the opportunity.

We face the task of updating institutions and embracing new technologies and ideas. The qualities we instill in children—cooperation, industry, and resilience—can devolve into selfishness, unseriousness, and victimhood. If we don’t proactively address the future, we leave room for those who exploit uncertainty for their gain. We stay stagnant and decline further because we want a false idol of continuity rather than growth. These aren’t issues we can think our way out of; they demand action. Although the world can give us insight, it will not solve our immediate issues.

As the saying goes: Hay comida en la casa. There’s food at home.

We have to go local to go global.

By thinking globally, we approach the world with curiosity instead of fear, making decisions that extend beyond our immediate surroundings. By acting locally, we continuously define and live by our values. Together, these approaches can help us shape a world we’re proud of.

Thank you for reading! Check out the weekly Minket puzzle here.

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