Monday, November 8, 2010

This is the remix.

At the end of proctoring a clinical skills/physical examination test last week, I told two medical students this during the feedback session:

"Whatever you do, do it with as much zeal and as much confidence as you can muster. If you've prepared, there's no reason to shrink and hide in the shadows. In fact, no one wants you to do that. Don't be afraid to infuse your own style into it. Make it your own."

I noticed that they'd both done a wonderful job preparing for the exam. They knew every single thing that they were supposed to know. Interestingly, though, these students and several other learners I've encountered over the years were . . .how can I put it. . . self-deprecating to a fault. Apologetic, even. Yet they had no reason to be! I did my best to punctuate that session with a "you go, girl!" moment, just to make my point.

It took me a while to reach that point of being used to hearing my own voice in medicine.  I remember being stunned and overly celebratory whenever something came out right. One day during my 4th year of medical school, my classmate Jada M.R. and I were having dinner with this accomplished black female attending. We had just gotten our USMLE 2 scores, and were over the moon because we had done well. She looked at us with disdain as we chattered about how elated we were. Then she told us these pivotal words:

"Why are you so surprised when you do well? That's a shame. You need to tell yourself that your preparation is enough, and that you are the bomb--over and over again. Until you believe it."

  Of course we graduated. We worked hard. We prepared. We deserved to.
(with Jada at graduation in 1996)

I've held those words close to my chest ever since. I tell myself those things often, and I tell my husband and children the same every single day.

Today I'm reflecting on the importance of self-confidence. Sometimes you just have to get in the corner and shadow box for a few minutes to pump yourself up, even when you're feeling unsure. And no matter how nervous it makes you, sometimes you just have to get off of the ropes and start swinging as hard as you can. There's so much that holds us back just because we're too afraid to say, "Let me in, coach!"


To everyone out there who is trying their hardest to do something with zeal and with confidence and with non-shrinking-ness and with an infusion of their very own--albeit different--style. . . . this is your nudge to get those shoulders back and that chin up and do just that. This is your nudge to ask the coach to let you in. And to inspire you, I bring you the perfect example of zeal--courtesy of the "king-of-dancing-like-no-one-is-watching" himself--my four-year-old son, Zachary:

"Hey Diddle Diddle, The Country and Western Remix" by Zachary M.
(Digitally remastered at Manning Home Studios, 11/5/2010)

 (He also has an extended version of this remix that he sang in front of his class Friday--and a B-side version of "Hickory Dickory Dock" that is equally reminiscent of Waylon and Willie coming soon to iTunes. . . .)

Now if that ain't zeal, tell me what is?

Life. Make it your own, people. Don't hold back. Expect to do well. . . .

. . . and don't be afraid to do an unexpected remix.


  1. Thank you!! I'm a second year medical student and need to be reminded of this message too often...

  2. Showing confidence makes your "customers" feel better also. A figurative slap on the butt going out the door is better than "I SURE HOPE this makes you feel better"

  3. An important message that can't be said enough. You sound like a wonderful mentor (not to mention mother!)

  4. oh my lord in heaven your son is adorable! What a great post :)


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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