On Tuesday July 17th my wife and I attended the degree congregation at Warwick University where our son, Dana, was receiving his Ph.D. in Engineering. During the same ceremony Professor Sir David King FRS received a Hon DSC from the university and he addressed the audience of graduates, university staff and proud parents. Sir David’s speech to the young graduates who were starting out on their careers was both interesting and full of encouragement and during it he said something that was very pertinent and made me reflect on it. Advising the young people embarking on their careers he said, ‘Take your work seriously, take your friends seriously, but never take yourself seriously. Pomposity is the enemy of civilization.’
I have thought about this advice to the young graduates and realized what good advice it is. I have met many people who are too full of their own importance and are truly their own enemies but also prevent or impede their colleagues, and indeed their fellow countrymen, from beneficial progress.