If there's one thing that has been clear with this round of grants, it's that when I need some data to slot into a section, I've got to walk down the hall and ask the right people in the lab to rustle up the data I need. Gone are the days when I could seemlessly alternate between Word and the bench, laying the groundwork for the proposal as I wrote the sections. I knew this point would eventually arrive, I just didn't expect it to get here so quickly.
Part of me is thinks this is not a great development. I mean, I could get most of this stuff done, but it would take hours of time invested that I just can't commit in the same way that the people in my lab can, so I don't. At the same time, I'm happy that I have trainees who have pushed the limits of what we do to the point where they have gone outside my comfort zone and continued to plow ahead. I've asked them to do things that I can't directly train them in, but pointed them in the right direction, and off they have gone. This is a good thing.
It does feel a bit strange to have to depend so heavily on others so that I can craft a compelling proposal, but taking the big picture approach is the only way I see to thrive. I know some PIs spend all sorts of time at the bench (to which everyone always ooohs and ahhs when it comes up) or insist on being able to perform all of the work going on in their lab, but I just don't see that as a viable strategy for me. My best place seems to be directing the course of the work by discussing strategy and troubleshooting and I'm slowly getting more comfortable with that.