It is Woody Allen who is quoted as having said that “80% of success in life is just showing up.”
This may be true, but a whole generation of young Americans were given trophies for just showing up. I saw it with my own kids early in their athletic activities. Everyone on the soccer team got a small trophy. Everyone was a winner. Unfortunately, that’s not true.
These Americans used to getting trophies for just showing up have now matured or at least gotten older. Some of them are doctors. They still want to get trophies for just showing up and surely do not want to be spoken harshly to by an attending of superior rank or stature. Thus, we have the current trend that everyone is equal and no one is any better than anyone else. This is the heart of the One MD Anderson philosophy that is a formula for mediocrity and has its roots in the fact that every one of the young faculty got a trophy for just showing up. The only new thing is that the people surrounding the leadership of MD Anderson are stealing everyone else’s trophies.
Maybe just showing up is good enough at many cancer centers. It shouldn’t be at MD Anderson.
My sources tell me that most meetings are festivals of praise for everyone around the table and no one ever does anything wrong that warrants harsh corrective action or, if what they did wrong is considered “unprofessional,” that faculty member may be gone in the blink of an eye regardless of that faculty member’s productivity, insight, or patient care skills.
As a parent, I was appalled when everyone got a trophy for just showing up. I never expected a trophy for just showing up. My father would never have tolerated such nonsense. My life was not a pass/fail test and neither is anyone else’s, especially in academic medicine.
In academia, we are to strive for excellence. We should never settle for just showing up. If anything was instilled in me throughout my education it was to drive for excellence and gold stars will follow. Did this become an addiction for me? It did. Was it healthy? No, but neither is settling for mediocrity and trophies for just showing up.
I would suggest to Dr. Pisters (as if he would ever ask) that he scrap the One MD Anderson nonsense, start surrounding himself with people who have actually accomplished something in academics besides stealing everyone else’s trophies, and set standards high for academic performance and less so for a rigid pattern of behavior. If he doesn’t, he may find himself short of the very people he needs for success and surrounded by 80-percenters who just show up.
Dr. Freireich never just showed up. Neither did Drs. Clark, LeMaistre or Mendelsohn. The patients of MD Anderson and the sponsors of MD Anderson research expect way more than just showing up. And they ought to. The current leadership of the institution is setting a course to letting down both patients and sponsors. That’s a formula for losing both.