- Understand that, with enough tenacity, you can accomplish the seemingly impossible. Curie had to overcome extreme gender bias to pursue her work, exploring radioactivity.
- Know that the more important the mission, the less important the working conditions. During their “heroic period,” Marie and her husband Pierre endured Spartan lab conditions and radiation exposure that they knew was dangerous. A hundred years later, their clothing, personal items and papers are still radioactive.
- Stand up for yourself. Late in life, when asked not to accept her second Nobel Prize in person because of a love affair, Marie Curie wrote to the Nobel Committee pointing out that her professional work had nothing to do with her personal life … and showed up to accept the award.
- Cultivate successors. The Curies’ daughter Irene had the right temperament, skills and interest to continue her parents’ work. Marie mailed her math problems during their long separations, and at age 11, Irene was doing advanced math. She later took over her parents’ institute and supported breakthroughs in nuclear physics.
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