This quote about fortune provoked an adverse reaction in me. I did not particularly agree with it initially. As I read the quote I recognized that the words somehow seemed familiar but I had attributed that description to “fame”. I must admit I was a little annoyed that fame and fortune were being equated as one. As I pondered that quote at 3 am in the morning on my only bathroom break on night call. I questioned why I was so annoyed by the quote and it was not until hours later that I gained some insight into my initial reaction.
I finally realized that I was irritated because it had been drilled in me that if I worked hard I would reap the results of my hard work later. In other words, I had internalized the idea that hard work guaranteed good fortune but this quote challenged that tenet. Once I had calmed down, I was able to understand that just because I put in the work did not necessarily imply I would be successful. This was a particularly bitter pill of knowledge to swallow because I am a physician in training. Most physicians in training will agree with me that the hardest thing about completing the training process is “delayed gratification”.
Anyone can take a test and will eventually pass it once they get enough time to prepare for it. However, it takes a certain commitment to enter a training process that could last anywhere between 11 – 17 years from the time you leave high school depending on your specialty. When you take into account the rising cost of medical education and decreasing physician salaries. It obviates the idea that most people who go into medicine are doing so to get the proverbial “pot of gold” at the end of the training. What motivated me to pursue Medicine was a desire to improve people’s lives and my love for Science I found that this field allowed me to blend the two.
As I begrudgingly accept the fact that I may sacrifice time with my kids and spouse, my health, my personal time, finances, money and friendships and still not be guaranteed good fortune. I realized that finding or discovering my purpose is the key to a building a successful life. But the caveat with that statement is that your must first have a definition of what you consider a “successful life”. I will leave you with this quote by Louis Pasteur “Fortune favors the prepared mind”.
Enjoy the festivities this season and remember – Jesus is the reason for the season.
The court of public opinion is a vicious one especially in this age of social media. Insults are rampant, defendants hit below the belt, there is no jury, judge, bailiff and there are no rules. Anyone can say and do anything with little or no repercussions or so it seems. Some people believe their actions and comments on social media are inconsequential. Harsh remarks and abuse are heaped on certain individuals with little or no support from the public. However the individuals being abused can’t seem to stop themselves from engaging in these self deprecating and self injurious behaviors. Some of them even go as far as internalizing the feedback thereby leading to catastrophic results.
Most of us have been attacked, insulted or even vilified online. The way we each deal with the online onslaught is a little different. With more and more young people engaging online it is important that we share strategies on how to engage online and how to address unconstructive criticism.
I have been in training for the past 14 years and ultimately whether or not I progress unto the next level of training is largely dependent on someone else’s opinion about me. So trust me when I say I have received a lot of feedback over the years. The further and further I get into my training, the less exams I have to take and the evaluations become more reliant on the feedback method. Now, feedback by itself can be very helpful and I believe it is a critical part in the process of improvement. However, not everyone is skilled in giving feedback. I therefore had to quickly establish a system to provide me with context in processing all this data. Realizing that it was up to me to establish a personal system for processing external input, I decided to abide with each method for a specific amount of time in order to gather enough data to make an informed decision.
The first thing I learned was to not be over reliant on tests. I am very adamant about this fact because in general tests exist to establish the minimum standard for qualification. Every board or licensing exam that I have taken always has the caveat that they are establishing the requirements for the minimal standards of practice. I therefore could not rely solely on tests to gain insight into quality improvement processes for my life. Performance on tests is not all useless but by no means is it all inclusive. Making this realization at the age of 13 prompted me to start an interval and personal system for self improvement and quality control. My entire process is outside the scope of this blog but essentially I developed what I like to call my INTERNAL BAROMETER.
Regardless of the context, I check every piece of feedback I get against my personal barometer and if the data is congruent (meaning in agreement) I adapt the feedback and make the necessary changes and if the data is incongruent (meaning in disagreement) I immediately reject the feedback and move on. When I was 14, my teacher informed me I was wasting my time trying to get an education, I should focus instead on getting married and bearing children. My friends were infuriated and went ballistic over these comments. I quickly checked the “feedback” against my INTERNAL BAROMETER and promptly rejected it. I have had a professor tell me that I career in law was what I was destined for. I also quickly checked it against my INTERNAL BAROMETER and promptly rejected it. This approach and system led me to the following realization: “You must set an internal barometer for your soul otherwise your surroundings will establish one for you”. Basically, your ability to process feedback both positive and negative bespeaks a certain level of maturity.
This is my way of freeing myself from the drudgery associated with the court of public opinion. In a way it is my way of “fleeing” from the public while still engaging with others in a public setting. Feel free to share your thoughts either in agreement or disagreement.
Millennials, Millennials, Millennials, who are they anyway? The term was first coined in 1987 by William Strauss and Neil Howe and has since stuck. It describes people born between 1982-2004. I love millennials and their need for immediacy. Their irreverent view of typical American culture. Their uncompromising right to assert their beliefs even when it is absolutely irrational. I find this generation fascinating. They are also affectionately known as Generation Y, Generation Me, Me Me Me Generation. They have also been called digital natives because they are the first generation who have not experienced life without the internet. I affectionately love to credit them with the surge of “the microwave philosophy”. For millennials everything must happen with immediacy and instant alacrity. In their minds the world revolves around them. This generation seems to glorify diversity of thought and philosophy as long as it fits with their personal philosophy. Some studies have shown a large percent of narcissistic characteristics among this population group.
Their most recent escapade is the anti-Trump riots that sprouted across the nation. This defiant group of young people branded themselves with catchy slogans such as “Not my president”. What was most astonishing was the fact that the my favorite generation the millennials did not seem to have any insight into why Trump was elected. As a matter of fact most of the rioters arrested in Oregon choose not to exercise their right to vote and some did not even register to vote. As they valiantly protested the Trump election I wondered in shock if any of them realized how their actions may have contributed to the results of the election.
But before we continue to rag on the millennials let’s ask ourselves the fundamental question: Who raised these entitled brats? Well, I hate to say it but the baby boomers are to blame for these self absorbed smart-mouths. This generation finds most things that baby boomers are proud of completely antithetic to their culture. And when I say “their” I mean each individual’s subculture. That’s right millennials don’t want to be labelled unless they are placing the labels on themselves such as “life coach”, “guru”, “expert” etc. As a matter of fact, some polls have shown that most of them do not want to be called millennials. Some say this generation seems to be missing the “American dream” and they don’t seem to care.
But let’s not condemn that whole generation lest we forget the good things the millennials bring to the table. They have redefined and really established what work life balance should be. They unlike any other generation before are serious about their relaxation. They also show the greatest concern for both local and global issues unlike any other generation in history. They are crafty problem solvers and innate innovators. They live life with gusto and do not believe in being chained to your job. They are reported to treasure a simple life with not too many frivolities. They seldom indulge in consumerism but when they do it is usually with a cause. They seem to care less what people think of them and focus more on their view as individuals. They have rejected a great tenet of American culture which is; more and bigger is always better. They believe in a 30 hour work week and actually demand it. This generation has been credited with inventing self branding, killing the napkin industry by re-branding the paper towel as sexy. Some of them have even given up sex. They have been accused of ending multiple industries and ideas including; the 9-to-5 work day, blockbuster, the movie business, travel marketing, vacations, golf, baseball, bad advertisement etc. See the entire list on fusion.
Before the end of this article, I would be remiss to not divulge that I am a millennial. Yes I am part of the problem. If you were not born during the time period described above and you identify with some of these values, there is a quiz to see just how millennial you are. I will end with my favorite thing about the millennials; they elected the first black president in the United States – I will forever be proud to be part of the generation who changed history. Speaking of history, I leave you with this quote; “One generation’s treasure is another generation’s refuse”.
Social constructs have always been one of my numerous interests. I find socially engineered problems of particular interest. One of the topics I am greatly concerned with is the insolence and lackadaisical approach to life that teenagers in the western world seem to adopt. Imagine my surprise when I first immigrated to the United States at age 18 and encountered the self absorbed, rude and myopic view that teenagers tend to have. I was flabbergasted by the laxitude with which teenagers were treated in America. I was totally aghast when my freshman class spent an hour session on strategies for success in college such as waking up early and making sure you did not miss 8am class times. I was perplexed that the professors were using valuable class time to review what most people would consider basic home training.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that my University had a major called “undecided”. I remember asking my advisor “how could anyone be allowed to matriculate if they are undecided, they could not even decide on General Studies?” It wasn’t until had been in America for at least 3 years that I began to get a glimpse into the real problem. American teenagers are treated like “mini gods” by their parents. Most of them have little to no responsibility. Sometimes their parents have to bribe them to get their attention. Children make inordinate demands on their parents who willingly pay them gladly for fear that their children may resent them for being seen as inferior to their peers consequently causing them to not fit in. The fear of not fitting in is a problem which seems to drive parents into shopping binges and frenzies. Personally I believe we should instruct teenagers that the expectation is that they not fit in with their peers but rather fit in with their families and communities to become contributing members in our society.
I wondered how American teenagers managed to develop such a knack for carefully engineered and executed temper tantrums as well as an inordinate sense of self entitlement. Pop culture and iconic teen movies such as American Pie seem to potentiate this idea that any and every thing is excusable because one is a teenager. I finally came to the realization that from the time most teenagers are thirteen their upbringing is essentially mortgaged out to after school programs and activities such as sports, clubs, hobbies, jobs etc. On average, a 16 year old American teenager spends about 10-15 hours a week at home actively interacting with their families. However, most of that time is spent complaining, fighting with siblings, throwing tantrums and arguing with parents for less strict rules etc. How can we really blame teenagers when a recent survey by Commonsense media showed that parents of tweens and teens spend more than nine hours a day on average on screens.
I remember growing up in Cameroon, West Africa where most days I was expected to have dinner with my family, actively contribute to the upbringing of my siblings and to the balance of our household. I am not implying that no youths in other cultures have temper tantrums. However, they are not considered a rite of passage, they are considered more of an anomaly. My point is, high school students can not be treated like mentally incapacitated citizens for 4 years with no sense of responsibility or duty then somehow magically transform themselves into responsible adults who make positive contributions to society. One can argue that most high schoolers need to spend even more time with their parents since they are so impressionable at that age but somehow this society accepts the fallacy which purports that the relationships teenagers have with their friends is sacred and even more valuable than their relationship with their families. I want to debunk the lie that fitting in with friends is an absolute necessity. I personally remember very few people that I went to high school with. I remember most of the people who were in my specific area of specialization but on average I do not remember at least half of my high school class. In general, most relationships formed in high school do not carry over into adulthood – so why spend so much time on them?
If I learned anything from my parents who raised 8 children on a middle class income, it is that children will always live up or live down to their parent’s expectations. Here are some examples of exceptional teenagers in their times; Queen Elizabeth II was 14 when she entered public service, she was 16 when she was appointed colonel over the Grenadier Guards in the UK. Joan of Arc led the french army to a historic victory at the age of 17 and was martyred at age 19. Bobby Fischer became a chess grandmaster at age 15. Malala Yousafzai received a Nobel Peace prize at age 17 in 2014; she was the youngest recipient in the history of the Nobel Peace prize. She started championing women’s rights at age 11. At age 19, Mark Zuckerberg commercialized Facebook and the list goes on and on. My goal in writing this is to caution parents that by coddling and adopting a laissez faire attitude with teenagers they may be doing them a great disservice by inadvertently stunting their emotional growth and thwarting their ability to reach their maximum potential. I leave you with a definition of social construct: “a social construct is an idea or notion that appears to be natural and obvious to people who accept it but may or may not represent reality, so it remains largely an invention or artifice of a given society”.
When I first read Victor Hugo’s quote, I was arrested by the truth in the statement. It prompted me to ask myself; “which thoughts are constantly echoing in my mind and how are those thoughts affecting my future?”
The word “echo” has plethora of definitions. It can be defined as a reflection, a repetition, a parallel, a duplicate etc, etc. My favorite definition is “a sound caused by the reflection of sound waves back to the listener”. Radiology uses this technique to obtain images of internal body structures. When ultrasound waves are directed towards the body, some of the waves are stopped by the body tissues. But some are reflected back to the transducer which then uses that information to generate a fairly accurate picture of internal structures.
Applying that principle to my life, I assumed that the ultrasound waves were “words” which were spoken by me or to me. Some of those words do not get internalized likely due to certain psychological characteristics (these represent the stopped ultrasound waves). Of those that are internalized, some are reflected back and forth in my unconscious mind and are eventually picked up by my conscious mind (the transducer). Once we become conscious of these thoughts, we use them to inform our decisions. Ever wondered why certain words be they positive or negative stick with you? Well my theory is somehow they surpass the mind’s threshold for rejection and become internalized in the subconscious.
Note however that the echo is only picked up by a transducer it is connected and listening for feedback. Our minds get that feedback through the process of meditation and introspection. By paying close attention to the thoughts echoing in my mind, I can use the information to inform my future decisions. Remember that our pasts can affect but do not determine our future.