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MOLECULAR MODELING Research group at the Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad

Being second

Being second doesn't mean that you lost;

it means that you had the privilege to compete with the best

Recently we participated in “Excellence in Materials Science Applications Publication Contest”, organized by Schrödinger Inc and Exxact Corporation, and in a very strong competition we have won second place. Honestly, this was great success for us. Nevertheless, very soon we received a comment: "So what, it’s just a second place and you missed the main award1?” This comment actually inspired me to write a few sentences.

In 2014th basketball world championship Serbia won the second place, right after the US national team. After a difficult start in the group phase, our team managed to overcome the crisis and in a series of fantastic plays fought the opportunity to tackle with the best in the world. Our nation was overwhelmed with the success of our players.

Nevertheless, somebody said: "What's the point, the Americans are the best"? I'll tell you what's the point. The point is to get inspiration for other great things. Yes, we lost against Americans, but the duel with them inspired us to keep up with the good work, so in the last Olympic Games we repeated the success in men's basketball. And we also won the medals in women's basketball and volleyball, while waterpolo team won everything there is to win (including the Olympics). That's the point. Only a small number of people actually ask themselves what it takes to be the second. I'll tell you again, being second doesn't necessarily mean that somebody worked less hard than the winner. It simply means giving the best you can at the moment and for that particular moment it is enough to win the second place.

If you end up depressed after being the second, it actually means that you missed the chance to learn something from the best. For example, in the first half-time of the match between Serbian and US team, the US team was simply fantastic. But, their play inspired our players, so you could also see fantastic alley ups and other great points by our team in the second halftime. Now, how many basketball teams in the world can afford exotic moves against the dream team? Not to mention that we almost got them in the group phase of the Olympics. Take a look at Đoković, the way he (and some of his  colleagues) truly respects the triumph of their opponents, even though he is not the first in the list anymore. Why? Because he learns from the opponent and takes that experience for serious. Take a look at the Icelandic national football team. They didn't come to the competition to win the medal; they came to inspire the nation. And they surely did.

As far as I am concerned, I know I would trade my PhD and do five PhDs more, for two minutes on the court (or in the pool) for national team in the finals. It wouldn't mean that I fought to take the medal, it would mean that I had the pleasure to compete with the best and that's from where the true inspiration comes.

So my message would be: don’t let other people decide whether you are a winner or loser. If you gave your best and if you take that experience for serious, you’re the winner regardless of your position in the list! Not to mention that true reward always comes2.

1 Very powerful workstation built specially for Schrödinger Materials Science Suite, which we use the most in our research activities

2 We are receiving sponsorship from Schrödinger Inc, for three consecutive years now, for their Materials Science Suite. This fact is the most important for our research activities.