The month of July 2019 just breezed through. For those who started their internship/fellowship/new job, let me tell you this was a big milestone. Those who have done this before you will share that the learning keeps on ascending, and you keep on growing, like any other important adventure in life. Allow me to introduce an important concept that will make your journey more fruitful. First we must read what Confucius said: “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” The first method remains a personal journey and the third method you will gain with time. I will shed light on the second method: imitation.
Throughout your career, you will meet people with exceptional capabilities, from excellent clinicians to fabulous teachers to kind humans. Try focusing on the habits and traits of people who positively impact your thinking the most. Find the valuable parts of their personalities and try to imbibe those traits. Ask those influencers what experiences, books, people have helped them craft their skill or characteristic you like the most; make them your mentors. Yes, do not be shy to ask for mentorship! And then imitate the good characteristics of your mentors wholeheartedly.
Now, to debunk a few misconceptions: mentorship does not have to be something absolutely official, and you do not need just one mentor in life. In my view, you need a council of many thinkers to get a clearer picture of things–Navaratnas, as they have been known in ancient kingdoms. As an example, I have many mentors here at my fellowship from whom I seek guidance about various things apart from my educational pursuits. With @KellyCawcuttMD, I learn more about leadership and enhancing social media opportunities, @amolpatil1 sits with me and teaches me financial freedom and life-hacks, and @Boer_MDPhD and I share our future goals and aspirations like friends.
There are so many great leaders from whom I learn every day that I have not mentioned here but shall in my future writings. Also, in my next post, I will talk more about how asking mentors for their book recommendations can enhance your vision and open a new chapter in your relationship with your mentors–I am currently waiting for one of my mentors to recommend to me which translation of Homer’s Odyssey she likes most.
Let me end this Chautauqua with a recommendation that I would give to the intern-me: share your failures as well as your successes with your mentors. In the field of medicine, where burnout prevails, this will help you hover past difficult personal and professional situations. Do not feel alone and isolated and discuss things with your mentors; you will be amazed to hear about their experiences and insights. I will leave you with the beginning of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, in which he cites what he learned from his various mentors. About one educator, he writes that he taught me to “bear pain and be content with little; to work with my own hands, to mind my own business, to be slow to listen to slander.” What a beautiful guide to have, won’t you say! So, find your mentors and build thy village.