If you asked someone to tell you one of Albert Einstein’s many discoveries, most people would start by naming his Theory of Relativity. They may not know what it means, but E=mc2 has been printed on enough t-shirts and mugs that it has become iconic.

But Einstein did not win his Nobel prize for his most famous work, not because it wasn’t worthy of such an honor, but because politics intervened. The Theory of Relativity is a theoretical construct and applied physicists blocked recognition efforts on that account alone. After several failed attempts to give Einstein the Nobel he deserved, colleagues took a different approach and nominated him for an award for his photoelectric effect – an applied concept, and he received the prize.

If one path closes to you rather than expend energy on repeated attempts to overturn the resistance, perhaps the best tactic is to pivot to another approach. Learn from Einstein and remember that ‘tis better to receive a Nobel for a different theory than to be devoid of the honor because of stubbornness or a technicality.

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