Upon hearing the word brand, it is natural for a flash of corporate logos to enter our minds. As consumers, when it comes to branding, we think big and we play favorites. However, of all the brands you support in your everyday life, the one most deserving of your loyalty is not your favorite brand or even your practice brand—it’s your personal brand.
In my experience with ophthalmology and with life in general, there are many lessons I have learned the hard way. But these teachings have come to serve a greater purpose of helping me to craft my makeup, or my personal brand.
From our everyday challenges to life’s infamous curveballs, it can be hard to invest time and energy into ourselves. However, as doctors and as human beings, the best investment you could ever make is in yourself. I don’t always gamble, but when I do, I bet on myself. If you have the opportunity to bet on yourself, bet the farm.
Below are a series of lessons I have learned in ophthalmology and in life. Ideally, reading and absorbing these insights up front would save you from future stresses. But living them and learning them is a rite of passage that, in the end, will land you in a better place.
LESSONS IN OPHTHALMOLOGY
• The difference between madness and ingenious is the acceptance
of your peers.
• You can’t predict the future, but you can adapt to the future.
Be sure to have a backup plan.
• Remember, there are two types of doctors who don’t have complications: (1) those who don’t operate and (2) those who
aren’t fully truthful.
• Sometimes you will make mistakes. The difference between
a mistake and a lesson is your ability to learn from it.
• Doctors can be like crabs in a bucket. They will step on each other
to get the top, but once on the top, don’t worry, the others will pull
them right back down.
• You are only in competition with yourself. Aim to outdo yourself,
• Follow the Golden Rule of Medicine: Give the same surgery that
you want to receive.
• Sometimes, it is hard to find balance, and you will get that sinking feeling. Hang in there.
• Teaching surgery is often more fun than doing surgery solo. I have taught 120 residents and counting so far; these individuals are fresh, enthusiastic, and perhaps a little naïve, but they go on to do amazing things and surpass me. And that is incredibly rewarding.
• In all of the decisions you must make—which subspecialty to choose, which type of practice is best for you, and so on—do what makes
• Charity surgeries can be the most rewarding of all.
• Seek a balance between work and personal life.
LESSONS IN LIFE
• Life can seem more confusing than it is.
• Life is short, and you will only get older every year. (By some definitions, a millennial is born between 1981 and 2000; if you finished residency before 2010, you are NOT a millennial [sorry].)
• Nothing lasts forever, and today is the youngest you will ever be.
• If you want to achieve something in life, do it now. If you wait too long for the perfect moment, the perfect moment will pass you by.
• Always remember that good times are balanced with bad times. Life is a zero-sum game. If you are down in the dumps, hang in there; the good times are around the corner. On the flipside, if your life is amazing right now, enjoy it because your downturn is coming.
• Everyone fumbles the ball once in a while. Do your best to recover it.
• A lot of people you encounter in life will be insincere; good friends will be there for you when times are tough.
• Things aren’t always fair.
• Life is full of haters; ignore them.
• Believe in yourself, and never, never, never give up.
• Find happiness in your everyday life.
Both ophthalmology and life will give you challenges. Don’t despair. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Relax and enjoy life. Happiness really is very simple.