Friends, don’t you love those synthesis/cohesion moments when all of a sudden something important to you—a passion, a core value, a project—is validated from multiple angles? That happened for me this weekend and I am positively giddy from it!
My new group of medical students promises to be just as engaging and fun as every other I’ve had, yay! They are only three rotations into their third year and already wise beyond their training. This month we discussed tribalism. They considered stereotypes, barriers to overcoming them, and how they might lead by example. And they identified experiences in which such barriers are already breaking down. “Finding your people” came up as both an aspirational as well as a potentially divisive ideal. We discussed the benefits of ‘We’re Great!’ and the risks of ‘They Suck’ attitudes. The conversation did not veer into political arenas, but it crossed my mind. I tried to point out how the skills of professionalism we address in medical training apply well beyond the bedside and medical teams. Our tribal memberships can save us and also keep us from living fully. I’m so grateful to have these reminders on a regular basis.
Some of you may notice I reference Ozan Varol increasingly this year (see coda below for why I think he’s so great). I started following him in the winter after reading his post on why facts don’t change people’s minds. This summer I joined his Inner Circle, a private forum of diverse and like-minded folks who subscribe to Ozan’s newsletter and wish to connect. Yesterday Ozan generously hosted a conference call for three of us to get feedback on current projects. At 2:00pm Central Daylight Time, I logged on from Chicago. I met Ozan and his wife in Portland, OR. J, a Canadian, called in from the Dominican Republic, where she has lived the past 24 years. C, an organizational psychologist interested in humane-ness in the workplace, logged on from Germany. And R, an education leader working on emotional intelligence workshops for schoolteachers, called in at 12:00am from India. C, R, and I presented our projects and everybody gave generous, honest, and encouraging feedback to help us all do and be our best. I could hardly contain my enthusiasm, gesticulating wildly and barely staying in the webcam frame sometimes.
I wrote to Ozan afterward: “I’m still wrapping my brain around what you have done here–stimulated so many people to think more critically and also openly… Convened a community of us all and given us a forum to interact, at our own pace and in our own words, from around the world… and invited us to help one another, to contribute to lives that we would never otherwise touch… What a privilege, a pleasure, and an absolutely ecstatic experience!!!”
Mission to Connect
I think it’s fair to say that part of Ozan’s mission is to connect people. But not just for the sake of connection—to make us all more thoughtful, curious, and collaborative beings. A man after my own heart!
Maybe my passion for such connection stems in part from my immigrant roots? Today my daughter and I embarked on another food adventure at home: Onigiri and chong you bing (but ours are much easier than the linked recipe!). The former turned out to be less labor-intensive than I expected, so we made a bunch, both salmon and chicken versions.
My Korean-American friend of 20 years, Regina, posted photos of her own culinary accomplishments today—savory and sweet galettes. Mei and I may try those next! Our ensuing text thread included my laments about the unhealthiness of onion pancakes (but oh, salt, fat, and starch—yummo!). Her kind reply: “Making food together with your kids, carrying on food culture, bonding, it’s a win-win!!” I knew I loved her for good reason. And how lovely that we have stayed in touch all this time! If not for that, I could never have recruited her to join my work team this year. And holy cow, talk about a win-win! Her kindness, generosity, curiosity, openness, and conscientiousness have elevated the team even higher than we could have dreamed—Thank you, Regina! What a blessing our connection has been for so many.
My new German friend C is thinking of launching a blog to explore humane-ness and its effects and importance in the work environment. She thinks maybe next year. Yesterday Ozan and I both encouraged her to start now. Asked whether I would follow, I said HELL YES. Not only will writing about her topic develop her ideas and thesis faster; the interface with fellow readers and writers on a blog, the opportunity to join a community of thinkers, and the connection with folks from who knows where, doing who knows what amazing things, may very well yield untold treasures of relationship and development—as it has for me—so why wait?
Tonight my heart bursts with gratitude for membership in such thriving, complex, diverse and overlapping tribes. I treasure the various communities that welcome me and give me a chance to contribute. And my mission to make as many and meaningful connections as possible between all people stands validated and sustained once again.
Why Ozan’s So Great:
- Humility. So many bloggers and podcasters are so full of themselves. It’s obnoxious. They may have expertise and knowledge, maybe even wisdom. But I cannot get past my aversion to their ego. I have no such issue with Ozan. 🙂
- Goldilocks content. The blogs are the perfect length! Enough words to make his point eloquently, and not so many that I lose interest before the end. He contacts subscribers at just the right frequency–weekly emails and biweekly podcasts. And the newsletters are also the perfect blend of blog, quote, and other interesting material. So many other authors inundate the inbox that I first ignore and then unsubscribe. Ozan has really found the perfect touch.
- Resonance. Though Ozan’s podcast topic is failure, what he really addresses is humanity in all of our complexity and fascinating ironies. I LOVE that! And he does it nonjudgmentally, always from the perspective of curiosity and learning. I really respect that–the generosity of spirit and growth, exploratory mindset.
- Consistency and reliability. Ozan is clearly disciplined and intentional when it comes to this work (and so I imagine he is also this way in life). His podcast script has a reassuring cadence and authenticity to it. When he says he’ll reply to all messages, he actually replies (that is what most impresses me about him–his responsiveness and how he makes me feel like I matter). He says he will update us on something and then he does. All in all a truly stand up and stand out guy among so many!