atul gawande: the magic of human limits and limitlessness

last week an excellent episode of on being aired with atul gawande. i have already sent it to a few friends, especially my friends in the medical community.

even though the show is mostly about the intersection of health, the role medical practice in it, and what makes a good life, this one section really resonated:

ATUL: …in my public health work, it’s about the idea that we’re all so incredibly limited, and yet there are ways that we string together and are almost unlimited, as groups of people. And it’s the kind of magic of when that happens, when you all start pulling together, and then you eradicate polio from the world, which we’re almost on the verge of doing. It’s just fricking amazing when you see that happen and how these limited, flawed — and to me, that was the amazement of surgery. We’re these smart, great people, but we’re all limited, and yet, can pull off these incredible, risky, complicated operations and forms of care that give people back their lives and give them many years of better life.

this little thought process has doubled-down on the importance of two things for me.

first, boundaries are so so so important. things like eradicating polio don’t happy when everyone tries to do everything. we need clear roles, scopes, responsibilities and hopefully those align with the particular skills and proclivities of the people who need to fill them. it would be hard for me to be a communications expert if i were also trying to be a medical doctor, a manager, and lab researcher. of course, that doesn’t mean people can’t be varied in their interests and expertise, but at a certain point, boundaries really are helpful for teamwork.

not only that, but people good boundaries help us to rest, think and see clearly, make good decisions, all of which support us to do our role more excellently. knowing our own limitations, both in terms of humanness and potential impact on the world is important to prevent overwork.

but that makes my second thought even more important: once we have good boundaries, we can see even more clearly the need to connect to others. because i am limited (ht wicked), i know that in order to do big things, i really do need to connect with others.

life really can be magic if we let it.

words / writing / post-processing
271w / 11min / 5min