The Legend File

Academic work is often a sea of rejection, revision, and re-write. Thus, it can be hard to keep upbeat when it seems like everything and everyone is a critic.

The solution - The Legend File - a file or folder full of all of the nice things people have said about you or your work.


One of the things that I see often with the people that I coach is that they get disheartened by the small setbacks that might come their way as part of the grant writing process or the journal writing process. Or if they're applying for jobs, the job application process. That's natural to be disheartened, and indeed lots of when you're applying for jobs, writing grants or writing peer-reviewed journal articles rejection is the common response rather than acceptance when you think that you know 1 in 10 grants might get funded. Journal articles rarely get accepted without modification or correction. Job applications have hundreds of applicants for any one particular job. One of the things that can help mitigate against that in terms of our psychology is to create what I have been told is called "The Legend Folder" or "A Legend File". This came to me from a mentor, Peter Cook or I think it was Col Fink. I can't remember which one but one of them said to me and asked me about a legend file.

So, a legend file is basically all of the nice things that people have said about you or to you or about your work that you want to capture and then put into a file or a folder on your computer that you can read it periodically. So that might be once a month you might get it out and have a read of it to pep you up. Or before you submit a grant you might read the legend file to give you a bit of a boost in self-confidence. Before you give a presentation, you might read some of the items from the legend file about perhaps previous presentations that you're given. The idea is to just make you realize the amount of nice things, and good things that people say to you or about you or about the work that you do. That's like I said to balance out the constant negatives that you might get like I said when it comes to grant writing or CV writing and job applications. Or when it comes to journal writing and submission. So, it could be anything. It could be someone might have given you a compliment about a grant that you wrote. Some of them might have given you a compliment as part of a presentation that you gave. Someone might compliment you about the work that you do or your work ethic. It could be a social media post. It could be in an email. It could be in a phone call or in a Zoom meeting but whatever it is do your best to capture it in some way, and then make sure you tuck it in the file.


If you review it once a month that helps with both like I said, self-confidence but it also keeps the idea of looking out for these things top of mind. And again, you as you start to look for these things, you notice them more frequently, and all of a sudden, the rejections that you get for grant writing, CV writing or journal article submission, now are balanced out again all of the against all of the positive things that happen for you day to day. So, your legend file, go out and create one. Let me know how it goes for you.

Can't wait to see you next time!