I'm Dr.Mani, a pediatric heart surgeon and author. I raise funds to sponsor heart surgery for under-privileged children in India. On this blog, I'll share my thoughts, travel photos, fitness tips and book reviews.
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!
Our next article is about handling tough challenges – and overcoming them to achieve success. To get notified when we post it… join our email list.
Once upon a time, a little boy found a caterpillar in the garden. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother.
“Can I keep it, ma? Please? I’ll take good care of it.”
Mom agreed. So the little boy got a large jar and put the caterpillar in it along with some leaves to eat, and a stick to climb on. Every day he watched the caterpillar grow. He brought it new plants to eat.
One day, he saw the caterpillar climb up the stick. It was acting strangely.
“What’s it doing, ma?” the boy asked his mother.
“The caterpillar is building a cocoon.”
His mother explained to the boy how caterpillars went through a metamorphosis to become a butterfly.
The little boy was thrilled to hear about the changes his caterpillar would go through. He watched the cocoon eagerly, waiting for a colorful butterfly to emerge.
Then one day, he saw a small hole appear in the cocoon. And through the crack, he could see the butterfly begin to struggle to emerge.
After a few minutes, the boy became concerned. The butterfly looked so weak and puny. The cocoon appeared so tough and strong. The little insect was struggling so hard to get out!
“What if it can’t break free?” he worried.
The butterfly looked desperate. More time passed, but it didn’t seem to be making any progress.
Finally, the little boy decided he had to do something to help.
He ran to his room and got a pair of scissors. Carefully, he snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger.
The butterfly now emerged easily. He was thrilled!
But his joy was short-lived. The new born insect had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. It was weak and floundered around inside the jar. He continued watching it, hoping that the wings would dry out, expand, and support the swollen body.
It didn’t happen.
For a few days, the butterfly crawled around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. Finally, it died.
The butterfly never was able to fly!
The boy tried to figure out what had gone wrong. He asked his mother. The wise woman took him to meet a local scientist. From the professor, he learned that the butterfly was…
“It’s the struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the cocoon which pushes the fluid out of its body and into its wings,” explained the learned scholar. “You see, son…
Without the struggle, the butterfly would never, ever fly.
The boy was heartbroken. His well meant intention to help had actually hurt the butterfly!
In life, your instructors, guides, mentors and teachers feel just that way.
On one hand, they want to reach out with “a pair of scissors” and “snip at your cocoon” to make things easier for you.
On the other hand, their rich experience with life has taught them that it would be counter-productive – to YOUR best interests.
Struggling is an important part of any growth experience.
Like the butterfly, it’s the struggle that makes you strong enough to fly.
You can work hard to overcome hurdles, succeed within constraints – and get things done.
Or you can condemn the system, keep wishing someone will make things easier for you – and lose the opportunity to grow strong.
It’s your choice.
You can view crushing competition as a heavy burden that drags you down – or as a something that builds your muscle, makes you stronger, helps you gain the strength and stamina that’s so essential for success.
In the words of famous motivational guru Zig Ziglar:
“Life is a grindstone. Whether it wears you down or polishes you up depends upon what you are made of.”
I promise, my book will not make it easy. You must actually read it to learn what’s inside!
Our next article will show you how to handle feedback – and overcome critics to let your inner light shine. To get notified when we post it… join our email list.