February 2008

Runner

I’ve always been a runner and still am. Usually about four miles a day, first thing in the morning. It’s an activity where—race or no race—the deepest competition is with yourself.

I think there are parallels for us as an organization, as we seek to become the best that we can be.  We have an extraordinary legacy to uphold, and at the same time, some accumulated habits to undo. It’s not always easy to tell which is which, and that can be very stressful.

Unfortunately, in a high-powered world where we compete for patients, for students, and for research funding, we don’t have the leisure to ponder this over time.  Probably the most urgent—and difficult!—challenge we face is distinguishing heritage from habit.  

For me, the litmus test is this: are we doing the most we can possibly do for our patients, our students, and science?  Where the answer is “yes,” then that is legacy, and we must preserve and protect it fiercely. Where the answer is “not yet,” that means rising to the best we are capable of to change it.