Crossing The Swamp

I am here today to cross the swamp, not to fight all the alligators.

A quote from The Art of Possibility by Ben and Ros Zander; it popped up several months ago in a newsletter I subscribe to. I love a good quote, and this one is apt for the viva.

You just need to get to the other side. That’s your job. Your job is not to defend every idea to the death, your job is not to respond forcefully to every criticism, you don’t have to fight-fight-fight your way through.

Questions and comments could suddenly pop out of the water and you might need to make a full response for some. For many you could just say, “OK, thank you. Thanks for letting me know. That’s interesting. Could you tell me more?”

You don’t have to fight all of the alligators in your viva. You need to get to the other side – to being done.

Nowhere To Hide

A candidate told me they were afraid because they had nowhere to hide in the viva.

Examiners would have spent lots of time reading their thesis and so the candidate worried they would be unable to evade questions on the day.

Literally in the viva room as well, there is nowhere to hide. On viva day it’s just you and your examiners: talking, discussing, figuring out what the thesis means and what that then means for the end of your PhD.

So yes, nowhere to hide…

…but also no need to hide.

Why hide in the viva? You have your work, your thesis, your ideas, your know-how, your talent. Why would you need to hide?