I’m reading “The Millionaire Mind” by Thomas J.Stanley. In a section on tenacity and leadership ability, he says this:
“The large majority (of millionaires) report that at some point or points in their lives they were labeled inferior, average, or mediocre, but they did not allow critics to forecast their future achievements, and they overcame their label of so-called inferiority.”
I’m reminded of many such points along my career.
1. As a medical student, I expressed an interest to become a surgeon. My mom, an anesthesiologist, pointed to my faint tremor, saying it would limit my capacity. (It was a side-effect of medication which I once took for asthma!)
2. During postgraduate training in general surgery, my anesthesia colleague would needle me by contrasting my surgical speed with co-registrars in other units. Forty minutes into an operation, he’d say: “Y’know, R does appendectomies in just 20 minutes.” I’d respond with: “Maybe she wants to get away from you quickly!”
(Once, just to show him up, I had the appendix out and the wound closed in 12 minutes flat!)
3. After graduating, I spent some time in a cardiac surgery department, where one junior consultant gave his scathing feedback after watching me cut sutures: “Your scissoring technique is poor!” Ouch! That stung for a while.
4. Then, I got accepted into a residency program at one of the country’s top institutions. In my first week there, I had just finished closing the wound after a vein harvest for CABG, when the consultant looked down at my work and said: “This isn’t a hernia repair. Remove the stitches and do it over again!”
5. And then, the very next week, well past midnight, I was wearily finishing up after an emergency re-operation for postoperative bleeding. Half-asleep, my fingers were mechanically placing sutures – when suddenly I felt a sharp pain. It was a few seconds before I realized that the scrub nurse had rapped me on the knuckles with an instrument!
“That’s not how you hold a needle, doctor,” she scolded.
Yet, five years from then, I was operating on tiny babies with complex birth defects of the heart.
Because, as Dr.Stanley goes on to state:
“Life is not one short race – it is a marathon of marathons. Labels come and go.
If you believe that you can succeed in life in spite of degrading labels that predict your failure, you are likely to win most of the marathon.”
Speaking of criticism, my book hasn’t had much of it – yet. But if it did, I’d overcome that!
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