Too Many Smart People
“Being smart is not enough, there’s many smart people in the world.” This was a phrase my dad repeated to me many times and I am finding it to be truer everyday. Often it is the simplest words of advice that take a lifetime to fully understand.
In medical school, I am surrounded by bright minds. Medical students are the cream of the undergrad science degree crop. They were the students who were most capable of post-secondary education. People who excelled in their university academics, aced the MCAT and still had time to pursue extracurricular activities. All medical students have a certain level of “smartness.”
I am amazed at the talent of my classmates. A few have ran multiple marathons and triathlons. Another has worked for the United Nations. Others have completed their PhD’s and are already “doctors”. Watching my classmates assimilate large amounts of information in a short period of time for a test is proof of their abilities. I often feel insecure in medical school among all these smart people, like an imposter who slipped through the cracks of the medical school admissions committee. Compared to the doctors and professors who frequently “pimp” the class with obscure questions, my confidence in my abilities is often shaken up. However, being smart and talented IS NOT everything.
Growing up, I was always curious as to how successful people got to where they were. How do athletes win championships and musicians write best hits? This curiosity made the biographies, especially autobiographies, a favorite genre. I read up on the lives of great thinkers, inspirational leaders and famous doctors trying to find a common thread to their success. To my surprise, being smart was not a crucial element. They all acknowledged that their talents and brains gave them a slight advantage but much like my father, they also acknowledged that there are many many smart people.
A video I’d like to share is from Richard St. John who gave a talk at TED on success. It sums up nicely what I think is needed – on top of being smart – in order to become a good doctor. Of the eight qualities that he mentioned, intelligence was not one of them.