This week, I had two unusual events on the same day. I opened an envelope on my office desk and found a handwritten note from a hospital administrator, thanking me for the high scores that patients were giving me on a survey.
Later, I received an email from a medical school administrator. She was thanking me for the tremendous lecture I had given that day to second year residents and was inviting me back to lecture for a longer session.
While I take pride in both how I care for my patients and how I teach at the medical school, I had to chuckle. The first letter was in reference to a hospital where I don't see patients. And I had not lectured at the medical school that day. Both messages were kind, but unfortunately they were meant for someone else.
I ended up sharing these false praises on social media for their humor. I also pointed out that on some days, there are no awards and no recognition despite our efforts and some days there are false praises. I've certainly had my fair share of public accolades and exposure.
Finding balance to stay grounded can be an issue throughout life. As a child, I learned a teaching attributed to Rabbi Bunim, a Hasidic teacher who lived in Poland 200 years ago. "Everyone should have two pockets, each carrying a piece of paper," he said. "On one paper should be written, I am but dust and ashes and on the other, The whole world was created for me. From time to time, we must reach into one pocket or the other, the secret of living well coming from knowing when to reach into each.”
This teaching has been a helpful guide, so I sought out other wisdoms on the topic and share them here.
Here are 10 inspirational quotes to help you keep your humility and pride in check:
1. “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” — Ernest Hemingway
2. “It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.” — Mahatma Gandhi
3. “On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom.” — Michel de Montaigne
4. “To find the balance you want, this is what you must become. You must keep your feet grounded so firmly on the earth that it's like you have four legs instead of two. That way, you can stay in the world. But you must stop looking at the world through your head. You must look through your heart, instead. That way, you will know God”. — Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
5. “Early in my career...I had to choose between an honest arrogance and a hypercritical humility... I deliberately choose an honest arrogance, and I've never been sorry.” — Frank Lloyd Wright
6. “Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.” — Ann Landers
7. “An attitude of gratitude is the highest yoga.” — Yogi Bhajan
8. “Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.” — Steve Jobs
9. “Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.” — Khalil Gibran
10. “Be happy for those who are happy, have compassion towards the unhappy, and maintain equanimity towards the wicked.” — Patanjal
As a consequence of this week's lesson in humility, I have dipped into the pocket of pride and am trying to discharge my patients with more information while I lecture with more enthusiasm, striving to earn the praise that I falsely gathered.