My surgical residency was a surreal experience.
I’m not even talking about the fact that I started out drilling holes through people’s skulls as a neurosurgical resident 15 years ago.
All the gory stuff gets pretty routine and pretty soon you become immune to it.
The part of residency that I really had trouble with was the hierarchy. My surgical program was particularly heavy on the resident pecking order thing.
The class in front of me was considered by my department to be phenomenal. They were the perfect residents.
When I think back at why they were considered as good as they were, it wasn’t because they were smarter than anyone else or better surgeons.
No…they were just better than anyone else when it came to kissing up and kicking down.
They excelled at how to look the part, say the right thing, and deflect negative outcomes to other more junior residents.
Admittedly, I was considered to be a little bit of a troublemaker—perhaps even a bit insubordinate. But I just couldn’t play the game.
The only reason I didn’t get kicked out of the program was because I had a knack for coming up with interesting ideas that became publishable papers. People put up with me because I had academic talent.
My insubordination and general lack of respect for authority also translated in me being terminated by my first employer out of residency.
I had a dispute with the new office manager who had recently been hired from a hair salon. I didn’t like her bossing me around.
My ego was too big for me to be employable.
Now what do you do with a personality like that?
Well, there’s only a few options really. You spend your life getting fired every few months and bounce around until you give up. Or…you become an entrepreneur.
I chose the latter.
The moral of the story is that we all have our instinctual nature.
Society only recognizes certain strengths and personality traits as desirable. For example, you are good at taking tests so you must be smart or you are not good at taking tests and so you must be stupid.
Is there only one kind of smart?
Society is not good at is encouraging us to tap into our own personal “superpowers”. We spend too much time trying to fit a square peg into a round hole instead of trying to cultivate the best of our individual qualities.
I sometimes wonder if that’s why so many people are so unhappy with their careers.
Does this sound like you? Would you be a better dancer if you could just dance to a different tune?
The New Year is just around the corner. Maybe it’s a good time to reflect.