Stop Lauding Jerks

Last night I went to a dinner with a distinguished speaker, an emeritus professor, who began by talking about past mentors in his field. One of these leaders is memorialized by a statue of him at a chalkboard because he was such an “amazing teacher.” The floor of the statue around him is littered with dimes.

Why? Because when a student, resident, or other trainee answered a question wrong, he would hand them a dime and tell them to call their mother because she was the only one who would love them now.

What an asshole! Instead of being a real teacher who allows trainees to make mistakes and learn from them, he humiliated them in public. And someone felt a statue to lionize this behavior was in order?

Too many of academic medicine’s “elder statesmen” laud the “tough love” of the good old days. Just because some of us survived and thrived under such conditions does not mean they were good for us. I wonder about learners who looked to other fields of work because they were too stupid to follow in this “great man’s footsteps.”

Teachers should have respect for their learners. Public denigration is never the answer. You can correct an answer without humiliation.

An Approach to Impostor Syndrome

xkcd for the win!

We have all had that self-doubt at times, wondering if we were really qualified to do what we do. In some people it becomes debilitating, preventing them from pursuing opportunities.

Most of us suck it up and struggle through the self-doubt, usually with some version of “fake it till you make it.”

I heard a new approach yesterday in an interview with Todd Herman, an internationally recognized coach. He suggests having an alter-ego who has qualities that you lack. For example, he is often indecisive, but his business alter-ego has no such problem. He assumes his other identity by putting on glasses (which he does not need).

This reminds me of when my daughter had to do unpleasant tasks, like cold-calling for donations for fundraisers. She has a theater background, and she became “Fundraiser Jenny.” People weren’t rejecting Jen; they were saying no to the other character.

I’m going to try this for some upcoming situations and see how it works. How about it? Do you ever assume a secret identity?

Why I Haven’t Been Here

My new offspring!
My new offspring!

Wow. I have not posted here since August. I do have a pretty good reason, though. I wrote a book!

One of my interest is faculty development. We are good at training doctors, but they often do not have the skills (or knowledge of what they need) to succeed as a faculty member in a College of Medicine. After advising folks for several years, developing content, and hanging out with others who have similar interests, I decided to set all that wisdom down.

Yes, it’s a book for a small niche market, and it’s only about 10,000 words. It’s still a book, and holding it makes me feel more published than any paper I have put out in the scientific literature!

Learn more about The Promotion Game: Your Guide to Success in the Academic Medical Center at the website.