Staying humble

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 57, No. 10, December 2015, Page 428 Editorials

“How did your appointment with the specialist go, Mrs Smith?”

“He told me that he is the best physician west of the Rockies, which makes me wonder if he really is.”

The best definition I’ve found for humility is “an admirable quality that not many people possess. [A humble] person may have accomplished a lot, or be a lot, but doesn’t feel it is necessary to advertise or brag about it.”

When perusing social media I am reminded of the erosion of this quality. So many Facebook posts involve boasts about personal and family achievements. I have no problem with people sharing life details with their “friends,” but is it necessary to post how important you are? A not-uncommon Facebook phenomenon is to post amazing workouts or race results. While your Facebook acquaintances may want to hear if your race went well, they don’t want to hear about your splits, power output, average speed, or placings.

Could you imagine if surgeons starting sharing this way through social media? “My laparoscopic cholecystectomy was amazing—completed in 35 minutes through portholes the size of a 25-gauge needle. I got that apple-sized gallbladder out through a keyhole and never broke a sweat.”

Or financial advisors: “Even though it was an easy day, pushed through a deal every 20 minutes, making a million by the early afternoon.”

Or even carpenters: “We got that frame up in no time. My nail-gun rate was unbelievable.”

In 2003 I volunteered in the bike lot at Ironman Canada. As the evening wore on, the weary finishers collected their bikes. Close to midnight I checked one young man’s bike out of the lot and asked him how his day had been. He relayed that he was happy and took the time to thank me for volunteering. As he was leaving, a fellow volunteer pointed out that I had just asked the race winner, Raynard Tissink, if he’d had a good day.

Mr Tissink’s response is a perfect example of humility.

Lesson of the day: if you are good at something you don’t have to tell everyone, because someone else will.

David R. Richardson, MD. Staying humble. BCMJ, Vol. 57, No. 10, December, 2015, Page(s) 428 - Editorials.

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