Leonard Zwelling

This was a new one on me.

Apparently, as explained by Tara Isabella Burton in The New York Times on March 10, manifesting is the belief that an individual can will things into existence. This has become popular because influencers on social media are trying to convince their followers that if the followers try hard enough and think positively enough they can be rich, skinny, and popular.

That was one thing I didn’t know about.

The other thing of which I was unaware is that this strain of thinking dates back to the 1800s and a movement called New Thought that purported to explain the success or failure of faith healing on the degree to which the putative patient believed in the treatment.

This form of thought actually exists today and is quite popular. See Joel Osteen whose message a friend describes as “no bad news.” If you’re not rich now, pray a little harder and believe a little more and you will be. I’ve been to an Osteen service. It’s an amazing show, but I fear there’s a lot of manifesting involved in its popularity.

And lest you believe that medicine is immune to this nonsense, there have been times that people believed that patients with cancer who had greater belief in the treatment did better. As far as I know, patient attitude does not cause complete remissions. Good therapies do.

The point here is that the belief that belief can alter reality is nothing new. May the Force be with you, if you get my drift.

I bring this up because manifesting has become a mainstay of delusional leadership. Leaders try to convince those they lead that if they believe in the leader’s plan, it will happen. No. What makes plans happen is hard work and that requires leaders with vision and will and the force of personality to motivate others to perform at a high level. Leadership is not all salesmanship. There’s got to be some there there.

Lately I get the sense at MD Anderson that there’s some confusion on this topic.

There seems to be no limit to the degree to which the leadership of Anderson will push the clinicians to see more patients in the belief that only that will fill the coffers. Never mind whether it is good for the faculty, let alone for the patients. Never mind whether the cost of seeing the next patient is offset by the revenue that encounter will generate.

For years when I was a staffer, associate vice president, and vice president the issue of MD Anderson’s true costs was under discussion. The true costs and their appropriate allocation to centers were never determined as far as I can tell. What I mean is what is the marginal cost of seeing the next patient and does that offset the marginal revenue. No business would expand without knowing these figures. Except health care.

I thought Dr. DePinho was really into manifesting in a big way. He really thought he could cure cancer in a finite time period because he saw the way and if the institution just did what he said, MD Anderson could be turned into a rehab hospital to compete with TIRR because cancer was no longer with us. How did that work out?

There is no question that good leaders see into the future beyond what is reality at present. One of the problems with both Joe Biden and Donald Trump is that the first has an unclear vision and the second sees chaos that only he can bring to order.

The sad reality of reality is that human beings can control what happens, but not with their thoughts, their beliefs, or their faith. It takes intelligent decision making, careful execution, and the willingness to learn from failure.

I wish that wishing for something could make it so. I’d be a scratch golfer. That’s not going to happen no matter how hard I pray to the golf gods or work on the driving range.

Manifesting in its old iteration of the 1800s and its new one on Tik Tok is silly. Wishing is not leadership. Leadership is. You may know it when you see it. It should be obvious as it is so rare currently.

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