The Expert in Each of Us

As President of the Northern California Urology Society, I held an interesting event in my office this week. I post it here because what I learned from it could apply to all of us in some small way.
It was an event meant to highlight the idea of mentors in our lives. Titled “Inside the Minds of Great Urologists,” it was modeled after the show called “Inside the Actor’s Studio” hosted by James Lipton on Bravo TV. Three internationally known, highly successful, academic urologists (Drs. Jack McAninch, Fuad Freiha and Ralph de Vere White) were featured and I acted as James Lipton and interviewed them. I asked them how they got where they are, what were their major influences and traits as they started and along the way, and what advice do they have for others. Quite a unique and modern venue for an old academic urology society.
What was incredible, though, was how revealing and educational the session was. The stories were short and full of meaty tidbits of advice from a blue ribbon panel of doctors. Most interesting were the answers to the questions that centered on how they got where they are, what they considered to be the secret sauce to becoming an “expert”. The major points are worthwhile summarizing here.

  1. Enjoy what you do. If you have a passion, pursue it, as it will keep you smiling.
  2. Don’t be jealous of others. Talent differs greatly from individual to individual.
  3. Mentors help greatly in finding and pursuing your passion. Find and treasure them.
  4. Stay focused. Stick-to-it-tiveness matters. “Be like a postage stamp. Stick to something until you get there.” (Josh Billings).
  5. An expert involves many things, but importantly, the desire and capacity to constantly change and improve.
  6. Be true to yourself and to others.
  7. Make a difference if you can.

So there you have it. Straight from pretty reputable sources in my field. And from this, it seems to me that the secret sauce to being a successful urologist in America is probably quite similar to that of any other profession.