Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Power of Presence - Not an Act but a Habit

Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit." Orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Duke Ahn, embodies Aristotle's insight. For my Tip of the Month, I want to share about the Power of Presence, which has everything to do with what we have repeatedly been doing and is either working for us or not. When I met Dr. Ahn, he had come to my hospital room the night before surgery to answer any questions I might have. As he sat next to the bed facing me, I had only a couple of questions. But while he described my injury and his plan for the surgery, my questions began multiplying, tumbling out of me one after the other. His responses were direct and detailed in content, his tone soft and steady. Being in his presence was somehow drawing more and more questions out of me and we were in a living partnership of give and take. Dr. Ahn's years of study and practice didn't just emanate passively and non-verbally from him. They acted like a catalyst and a magnet on me. When he left, I was confident that my leg and I were in the hands of a meticulous, masterful surgeon. The next morning, as I was wheeled into surgery, I looked forward to being in his reliable hands. The proof is that I'm walking now (the injury had been called "devastating") and several other unrelated doctors and therapists have commented on the exceptional appearance of my surgery. The results were planted before my surgery took place, during Dr. Ahn's years of meticulous attention to details, and they gained momentum during that hospital visit. So to wrap up, we can all ask ourselves, what is the nature of our presence? What is the effect we have on others? By weeding out what isn't working and repeating what is working, we, like Dr. Ahn, can have a more powerful presence. Please comment below.


Maureen said...

I LOVE that quote by Aristotle... and it is truly representative of Dr. Ahn's handling of your doctor/patient relationship. It really makes me want to step back and be an observer of my own behavior... to witness what is working and what maybe isn't. And running with what is!

Cindy said...

Thank you for the reminder that today is a gift and that we need to "be present" to appreciate it.