“Even if a minefield or the abyss should lie before me,
I will march straight ahead without looking back.” Zhu Rongji
TASK AT HAND: This week I’m thinking about hindsight and the ability to forget. You know the old adage, “hindsight is 20/20”? This is not the whole story. Yes, you can look back and sometimes find explicable nature to events. However, looking back can leave you in an abyss of insecurity. The discrepancies of past actions can hinder our future movement by leaving us stranded on an island of insecurity. This plagues our ability to decisively carry out optimal strategy.
Why is looking back harmful? I heard Andrew Lincoln, the actor who plays Rick Grimes in the television show, The Walking Dead, say: “I would find myself getting deeply distressed if I lived in hindsight all the time”. I like this. Past events, while they allow you to learn and thus are of value, they can also paralyze you from future action if you do not let them go. They create bias in your vantage point that can then preclude you from realizing the potential of events not yet happened.
The ability to forget. The skill of not remembering allows us to move forward with confidence. “It is not possible to go forward while looking back” (Ludwig Mies van der Rohe). You cannot look back and move forward at the same time. Incessant retrospection is as deleterious as never looking back. At some point, you have to forget past triumphs, errors, wins and losses, and strike forward. Leave the past as rough notes on a story that you continue to develop.
I am a surgeon, and I believe the difference between good surgeon and great surgeon is a great surgeon has no memory. He or she forgets both the complications and successes of previous cases, and continues to work for the best possible outcomes. Whenever I operate, whether it be a straightforward procedure or a high-risk complicated case, I draw on collective experience and knowledge – but at the same time – I remain free of any worry of that which has happened before. For, if you look too far back, you might stumble into tomorrow without living the time that exists today. Besides, looking back for too long is bound to hurt your neck.
MEDICINE & MACULA: Check out our new feature in the September 2016 issue of Retina Specialist entitled, MIVS and Post-op Endophthalmitis: A look at evolving trends and techniques.
Thanks for the continued interest in our microincisional vitrectomy surgery (MIVS) technique for infectious endophthalmitis. Early vitrectomy for endophthalmitis provides significant benefit in removing infectious material and look out for a study we are putting together on this topic.
GRATIS: If you enjoy the Sunday Surgical Scrub, sign up with your email and receive a new Scrub every Sunday in your inbox! Also, I’ll keep you posted of updates and new material planned for 2017!
My best to you,