What should I do?

In his book, “better, A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance”, Dr. Atul Gawande, wrote what he told the medical students for “their life in medicine” in one of his lectures,”suggestions to becoming a positive deviant”.  Dr. Gawande’s advice:

1. ask an unscripted question (attributed  to Paul Auster)


“Try to keep conversation going for more than 2 sentences…It’s not that making this connection necessarily helps anyone. But you start to remember the people you see, instead of letting them all blur together. And sometimes you discover the unexpected.”

2. don’t complain

“(But) resist it. It’s boring, it doesn’t solve anything., and it will get you down.” “Medicine is a trying profession, but less because of the difficulties of disease than because of the difficulties of having to work with other human beings under circumstances only partly in one’s control. Ours is a team sport, but with two key differences: the stakes are  people’s lives and we have no coaches… Doctors are expected to coach themselves.”

3.count something


“Count how often you succeed and how often you fail”.

“Regardless of what ultimately does in medicine-or outside medicine-one should be a scientist in the world…If you count something you find interesting, you will learn something interesting.”

(4) write something

“What you write need not achieve perfection. It need only add some small observation about your world… (But) writing lets you step back and think through a problem. Even the angriest rant forces the writer to achieve a degree of thoughtfulness… Most of all, by offering your reflections to an audience, even a small one, you make yourself part of a larger world.”

(5) change.

“Look for the opportunity to change. (But) be willing to recognize the inadequacies in what you do and seek out solutions. As successful as medicine is, it remains replete with uncertainties and failures. This is what makes it human, at times painful, and also so worthwhile.”

To accomplish these suggestions we need:  “diligence, moral clarity, ingenuity, and above all willingness to try. “ All these 5 suggestions can be my New Year’s resolutions

Atul Gawande is a 2006 McArthur Fellow and a surgeon at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

2 thoughts on “What should I do?

  1. I think all the suggestions are necessary and worthy to pursue, but I must say “don’t complain” should be mandatory for teachers. Sometimes the lounge can overspill into the hallway and worse yet the classroom. Pure poison, of which I refuse to take part.

    As for change, that’s something I need to embrace.

    Happy Nee Year, Edgar!


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