I recently had to see a dear mentor off, as she leaves UA medical imaging to join her family on the East Coast. She was a gem in our program. Many people were really sad to see her leave, but we are happy for her choice to be closer to family.
She has been an inspiration to me the day I started radiology residency in July 2015. Not only is she incredibly knowledgeable, but her empathy and her work ethic are among the best that I’ve ever come across in my personal and professional life.
I’d like to share the top 5 things she taught me by example.
1. Work hard.
Given her academic/professional stature and shear intellectual prowess, she can choose the path of hardly working rather than working hard. Yet she persists to work the hardest she can. Her work ethic inspires and reminds me that effective leaders lead by service and example. The best way to increase the efficiency of your team is to increase that of your own and thereby setting an example/standard for others. Because of her example, I decided to become more aggressive with grabbing studies and working harder than ever. When any resident who “likes to take it easy” is on service with me, instead of complaining about additional workload, I see it as a golden opportunity for me to work harder, grab more cases, and learn more. She was totally right, working hard in the end benefits me more than anyone else because the more I do, the more I learn, and the better/stronger I become as radiologist and an individual.
2. Don’t take kindness and generosity for granted.
As I began to furnish my 2nd/dream home (while my partner keeps our first home in Tucson), she gifted me so many things. I felt so grateful when we picked up the wonderfully cared for household items/furniture from her home. During our last trip to her home the night before her flight, she even made dinner for us. By all standards, she went above and beyond to help and nurture me, one of her 36 residents at University of Arizona during 2015-2016. I was speechless to receive such undeserving acts of kindness from her. Seeing how she has given so generously to me and many others, I also see how not everyone realizes how lucky they are to receive her graciousness. So this taught me to appreciate those rare creatures like her. Before I take someone else’s kindness for granted, I will remember her, and remember to pass on and reciprocate acts of kindness.
3. Love and give to others as much as you can.
While we live in a world of competition, exclusion, envy, and scarcity, she builds an oasis of love, inclusion, admiration, and abundance starting from herself, reaching out to those around her. She gives and gives and gives tirelessly. Though it could be disappointing to see some take her kindness for granted, she manages to become an inexhaustible source of positivity. In a tight radiology job market, she got job offers from multiple prestigious institutions within a month when the word got out that she was leaving for Tucson. She was surprised at how much people from all over the country love to have her join their respective teams. Yet it’s clear to me how her loving, positive disposition compounded with her work ethic makes her an incredible asset to any hospital/academic institution.
4. Respect everyone.
She’s always kind and respectful to everyone: colleagues, technologists, residents, patients, and visiting scholars. Even if she does not agree with a person’s work ethic or decisions, she still treats him or her with respect. I find this the hardest to practice. As I work hard and love working hard, I find laziness/sloth despicable and have low tolerance for it. So I find it amazing that she could accept someone at the other end of the spectrum from her end. I do though understand why she respects everyone. She values each human being intrinsically, regardless of their character traits. Her respect for others speak greater to her character than those around her.
5. Always do and be the same even when no one is watching.
She’s absolutely right on this. Whenever she says this, I recall the times when I cut around the corner with a U turn to circumvent a red light and other little acts that I won’t do if the authority is around and I can get in trouble. In the end, I might have saved 1 minute on my commute to work or had some other short term short-sighted small gains, it truly isn’t worth it. It’s just easier to be consistent and hold myself to the same standard whether someone else is watching or not. Plus, I do serve someone greater than myself. My God is always watching; He knows my every act. At the end of the day, being able to sleep at night and be at peace knowing I have done my best with everything is worth maintaining the same standard in all circumstances.
I think the top 5 things she taught me by example will make me happy and successful in all aspects of my life: personal, professional and financial.