I’ve been stepping outside of myself to look back on my first year at ICO from a different perspective. It has become something of a bi-yearly tradition for me to look back on my life and be embarrassed about how I’ve acted for the last couple of years. At this point, I expect my future self to continue being embarrassed no matter what I do.
Anyway. That’s not the point I’m trying to make.
I think I’ve done many things right at ICO, but there are also things that I could have handled with more tact or thoughtfulness. Thinking back has helped me realize that I didn’t need to do things differently; it was my attitude and perspectives that needed to adjust.
Attitude and perspective make a difference in everything you do. This is especially important when working with people. So, I’ve written down some principles. These are principles that would help all of us, especially professionals and soon-to-be-professionals.
Here they are:
I will not take things personally, even when it seems like I am being attacked. I will respect criticisms from others, no matter the content of their criticisms. This is important in a professional environment, especially as a student. It’s easy to be defensive about criticisms, but by dismissing the critiques, I am doing myself a disservice. I won’t be able to improve the weaknesses that other people see in me that I am unaware of.
I will be kind and I don’t expect people to like me for it. We need more kindness in our world. I’m a strong believer in being kind for the sake of being kind. It’s normal to expect others to reciprocate kindness with kindness, but that isn’t always the case – and you shouldn’t take that personally. Remember: the goal is kindness, not to boost my own ego.
I will always give people the benefit of the doubt, even when I am not given the same benefit. I have seen too many situations where assumptions have ruined relationships. Some would say that this point of view is too trusting. I realize that one day, someone may take advantage of my good will, but I am willing to make that trade to give honest people a chance. Call me an idealist. This principle is very similar to the second principle. There is a very thin line to walk between being trusting and having people take advantage of you, but in my experience, I have found that the vast majority of people reciprocate trust with trustworthiness.
I need to recognize that I’m needed in a supporting role more often than I’m needed in a starring role. This is especially true as a student. I am here to learn and cooperate with my colleagues, not to prove my intellect. This is a personal problem for me. My ego can become inflated sometimes.
I will admit when I am wrong. Ego and defensiveness do not make this easy. This is one of hardest things for anybody to do. It is also important to recognize that you can be completely humble and willing to admit mistakes in one area, and be completely obnoxious in another. I speak from personal experience.
I will learn from my mistakes. I realize that I will make many of them. This principle is important in order to become proficient in any field. Optometry is no exception.
I will respect my body and my health. The mind and body are connected. As a student who is constantly learning, I need to keep my mind sharp. To do that, I must keep my body strong and healthy. Time for a metaphor: anything can be used to make art, but having good tools makes it easier to make great art. Your body is the tool, optometry is your art. This isn’t completely necessary, but in a high stress environment with tests being thrown at you every other day, it’s important to stay in the best shape that you can.
These are principles that I try to follow everyday, but I do forget them – and I forget often, without something reminding me. I still struggle with them from time to time. They sound too idealistic for certain situations, but despite this, I have found that I never regret what I do when I follow them and I am always in a better situation, considering the alternatives. I really hope that you consider adopting some or all of these principles on your own, and I hope you get as much out of them as I do.