Sitting in My Dad’s Study

May 9, 2013 § 3 Comments

Happy Birthday Dad!  I figured I’d celebrate it with a blog post to share a couple of lessons I learned from you!  Thanks!

2 Lifelong Lessons:  Learning and Teaching

I was 12 or 13 years old and sick of school.  Sick of homework.  I hadn’t yet realized learning is fun.   All I knew is there was homework to do and  it felt like a chore.  I couldn’t wait for school to be over so I could start having fun in life. I remember thinking to myself, “Did I really have 6 or even 10 more years of school?”

One day, I walked into my Dad’s study (he was a Doctor and 40 yrs old +/-) and I found him absorbed in a pile of books in the middle of a beautiful day seemingly studying.  I recall saying something to the effect of “Hey Dad, what are you doing?  It looks like you are studying”.

He said “I am”.

I paused in confusion.  “But Why?” I asked.  “I thought that once school was over, you never had to study or do homework ever again?

He paused and then said very matter of factly and very presciently  “You know Jim, you never stop studying or learning in life.  In fact, new books and techniques are developed every year and I have to keep up on all of them”

Again I asked “But Why?”

And my Dad said so impactfully:

“Well, there might be something in these books or new techniques that could help me save somebody’s life someday.  Imagine if I didn’t keep up with all this new material?”

A second conversation with my Dad (in his study) occurred a few years thereafter.  This conversation centered around Teaching.  I remember asking him “Is everyone who goes to medical school a great doctor?”

He explained to me that not all doctors were equal and those doctors that put the effort in and “got A’s” in medical school were probably better than doctors who got “C’s or D’s”   He continued to explain how all medical schools had a very regimented and rigorous core philosophy to ensure all doctors granted a license were qualified to actually be a doctor.

I’ve never forgotten his explanation of this core medical school philosophy and how it consisted of 4 distinct phases all students went through in medical school.

  • Read It and Memorize It – Year 1
  • See It – Year 2
  • Do It – Years 3-4
  • Teach It:  Internship and Residency

The words my Dad used that day have been emblazoned in my psychological makeup ever since:

“You don’t become an Expert at anything until you actually have to Teach somebody else what you think you know”

Knowing my children will be 12 and 9 this year, I’m waiting for the right moment to share with Trevor and Claire what my Dad taught me.

1)  You never stop studying and learning.

2)  Only until you Teach somebody else, do you become an Expert

Happy Birthday Dad!  And thanks again for your valuable life lessons!

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