Understanding Success and Failure

NPR (5/1/23): Why an NBA star’s response to a reporter’s question about losing hit a nerve

Some excerpts:

Antetokounmpo, after being asked if he considered the past season a failure:

Do you get a promotion every year at your job? No, right? So every year, your work is a failure? No. Every year, you work towards something, which is a goal: It’s to get a promotion, to be able to take care of your family, provide a house for them, or take care of your parents. It’s not a failure, it’s steps to success. There’s always steps to it. Michael Jordan played for 15 years and won 6 championships. The other 9 years were a failure? That’s what you’re telling me.

There’s no failure in sports. There’s good days, bad days, some days you are able to be successful, some days you’re not, some days it’s your turn, some days it’s not your turn. That’s what sport’s about. You don’t always win, some other people are gonna win. And this year, someone else is gonna win. Simple as that. 

So 50 years from 1971-2021 that we didn’t win a championship, it was 50 years of failure? No it was not, there were steps to it, and we were able to win one, hopefully we can win another one.

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti’s reaction:

What Antetokounmpo said was fantastic … Failure is when you don’t try to do something as well as you can. When you try to do your best, you have a clear conscience, and that’s never a failure, not just in sport but in life.

My take: I like Giannis’ response so much (there’s a 2 minute video at the link). His sentiments align with my beliefs. If/when I work hard, this often leads to good outcomes. However, even if the outcome is not what I wanted, I have no regrets.

“When You Reach for the Stars You May Not Quite Get One, But You Won’t Come Up With a Handful of Mud Either” – Leo Burnett

Thank You Larry

One of the difficult aspects at this point in my career is saying goodbye as physicians retire.  Larry Saripkin, who is an amazing person, is retiring (last day yesterday). 

I first met Larry when I was working at Egleston Hospital. Larry, along with Jeff Lewis, provided coverage for me when I had become the single physician in my group.  This allowed me to be off when our youngest son was born.  Then, later, Larry helped convince me to join the merging GI groups at Scottish Rite (23 years ago).  This has been one of my best decisions.  Of course, I feel that our group delivers very good care for our patients.  Yet, the main reason why it has been a good choice is working alongside some terrific individuals. 

Larry has a keen intellect and a wonderful ability to connect with everyone, even families with very stressful medical conditions. He is very generous with his time.  I remember one night when he was on-call, the parents of one of my patients called. They were upset because they could not get the feeding pump to work.  They told me that Larry insisted on driving out to their house (around 11 pm).  He and his wife showed the family how to work the pump.

For about 15 years, he has spent a week every summer at Camp Oasis as the medical director.  At heart, Larry is still a kid.  For years, he would take some of the younger staff (or kids of other physicians) with him when he went to Bonaroo.

He has served as a mentor to many of us in our group and to about a dozen scribes who have moved on to become physician assistants or to medical school/physicians.

Countless families have told me how important Larry has been to them. He has attended many of his patients’ celebrations (eg. weddings).

It will be bittersweet going forward when I walk by Larry’s office & missing out on some great story or some new music.

In this picture with Melissa and Cassie (from 2011), Larry is dressed up
as a cheeseburger (with a fake mustache) at Camp Oasis.