Most recently, I learned (something I really already knew) the stuff that scares me the most is most likely the stuff I should be doing.
So yesterday, while I was reflecting about how I used to fantasize about getting even with dental school instructors who really didn’t recognize a creative genius when they saw one, I realized I should have played things a little differently.
Instead of seeing myself as a victim and daydreaming about ways to turn the tables on my white coated, white belted and white shod perpetrators (yeah, they really dressed just like wannabe golfers), I shoulda just apologized Canadian style, left the past in the past, and claimed whatever power I could’ve scratched out.
And going Putin on these guys (no, not the poisoning thing) in a KGB good cop manipulative kind of way would’ve definitely been possible. I serve up my D-school lab partner as an example. Billy-G got outa the blocks in great style, mostly because he was already over thirty and knew who he was.
We had this first project where we had to carve something out of a cube of wax just to prove we had any talent whatsoever beyond acing Organic Chemistry, having a pulse, and not coming out of the psychological testing rated “Sociopath.”
I carved a beautiful rose. And so my first project (combined with my previously having trash-talked the Dean of Admissions for talking mess about my Dad’s job) availed me the unfortunate label, “soft wise-ass.” Billy, on the other hand, carved a monkey with moveable parts and a proclivity for self-satisfaction. In the eyes of the “cool” guys wearing white shoes and white belts, Billy-G became Billy-Great.
And I think Billy-G actually loved his four years of D-school. On the other hand, I was really happy the psychological testing wasn’t a regular thing.
Today, however, everything is different. And I still can’t believe I went four years without hearing a single bird chirp. My bad; I chose my four years of attitude and created a self-fulfilling prophecy…being miserable.
About twenty years ago, one of my first mentors outside of mom and dad shared, “You teach people how to treat you.” Later, I learned there’s no power in being a victim (a corollary is resolving conflict by first apologizing for your role in the experience.) Most recently, I learned (something I really already knew) the stuff that scares me the most is most likely the stuff I should be doing. And I could’ve used some of this fortune cookie material while I was contemplating a dental school instructor beat-down in the parking lot…but I’ve never claimed to be a quick study.
Eventually I learned to look and listen for opportunities that connect with actions that bring me joy; that’s when I started writing these pieces about 20-years ago and that’s when I chose to make dentistry fun. And I have to tell ya, those Temple City parrots are freakin’ power chirpers.
On a recent trip to Seattle for yet some more team training, we stopped by for a visit with our fishmonger friends at World Famous Pike Place Fish. And it’s hard to believe it’s been over ten years since our first visit. The trip came after watching a video that helped change our culture and whom we chose to be.
Back in about 2005, we hung out with the Pike Place crew; invested in some cold ones and some coffee and got a return that will never be measured in dollars and cents. I had a conversation I’ll never forget. I asked a 27-year old with a master’s degree, a high school teaching and coaching job, and a family why he chose to return to his fishmonger role. The young man explained he had three children and his wife had just been diagnosed with cancer; when he worked at Pike Place Fish, he was a better husband and father.
The young man’s response shook me in my Nike’s. I couldn’t help but shed a tear…just like now while I’m punching the keys. That’s the kind of culture I wanted for the people I love and with whom I work and serve patients every day.
I don’t think we’ve ever been the same…I know I haven’t.