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Dare to Care How to fix what’s broken in the world and in people By Mark Goulston Be a first class noticer and then have what you notice matter enough to you to take actions to make it better – Warren Bennis Because of Warren’s values I don’t think what he meant by “what matters to others” was something of a material nature, but rather was more about helping others that had the potential to help the world to be better able to do that. On July 31, my last living mentor, Warren Bennis died. I have written about what he meant to me personally elsewhere. Who he was and how he was who he was feels like a beacon and True North that beckons to me. No, that is too weak. It calls me. One of Warren’s favorite notions was the quote above. By it, I think he meant that when you notice something, you are much more involved in it than when you merely watch, look at or see it. I think he also meant that when you notice what matters to others and come from a core value of being of service and truly caring, what matters to others matters to you. And then if you take actions as an expression of your commitment to helping others in what matters to them, it fixes things. In fact, it fixes people. In applying that to myself, I am reminded of another person who I was blessed to have in my life. And I mean blessed quite literally. That is because I have come to believe that Dean William McNary was an actual Angel, as in an actual agent of God. And this transcends religion, because I am Jewish. It was more than forty years ago and I was literally at my wit’s end and Dean McNary, or Mac as we medical students at Boston University School of Medicine affectionately and gratefully called him, may have been prescient in guessing that it might coincide with my also being at the end of my rope. I was about to request a second non-consecutive medical leave of absence. And it wasn’t to see the world on some exciting adventure. A year and a half earlier, my mind stopped working. More specifically, I had completed one and a half years of medical school, was miraculously passing courses in our med school’s then pass fail system, but I was not understanding, retaining or able to recall nearly anything from my courses and books. All my books were highlighted yellow as if I hoped that highlighting the words would magically transport their meaning into my brain and mind. I took a year off and did some honest blue collar work that to this day I miss for its simplicity and even its purity. My brain and mind came back enough to be able to handle the labor in that work and I felt some renewed confidence and competence. At the end of that year I came back to medical school, where everything was okay for a couple of months and then my mind left me again. I was actually able to pass courses and finish my second year and had just got started on my third year, but then I had hit a wall. Strike two. It actually felt like a third strike and the thought that I might hurt patients because of my mind being gone, horrified and terrified me. I actually still have occasional nightmares about doing just that. I requested another medical leave of absence. What you may not know is that every time a medical student takes a leave of absence and their place in the class goes empty, the school loses matching government funds. So I had already cost them a chunk and was about to do the same. At that point I was asked to meet with the Dean of the School, who was a very decent man, but whose role was among other things to keep the school fiscally sound. I met with him and had very little recall of what we spoke about. Shortly after that, Mac called me and in his thick Irish Catholic Boston accent said, “M-a-h-k, I got a letter here from the Dean of the School and I think you need to come in for us to talk about it.” And so I found myself seated five feet away from Mac in his office when he told me to read the letter he had received from the Dean of the school. I can’t remember exactly what it said, but the essence of it was, “I have met with Mr. Goulston, we discussed his current situation and also alternative careers, perhaps even learning the cello (“My God, the cello!!”) to which he agreed and I am therefore advising the promotions committee to ask him to withdraw from medical school.” After I read it, I became even more confused than the very confused 6 Submit your Articles Personal Excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 11.2014


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