When I was about 10, working on some long division homework my dad walked behind, looked over my shoulder and pointed at one problem and said, you might want to double check that, I think you forgot a step. Well, I looked, and he was right. I had forgotten to carry a number over and my solution was wrong. I fixed it, and being at an age where I still thought my parents were brilliant, I asked how he got so smart. Now, at my age now I realize that part of the reason he just looked and knew it was wrong is, despite my thinking it was difficult, it really wasn’t and he had done far more complicated mathematics over the years. But, he paused a moment and said, “Well, I am pretty smart about some things, but I wish I was wise instead.” At that age, I didn’t know there was a difference so I asked what he meant. He quoted someone, at this point I can’t remember who, but he said, “A smart man learns from his own mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others. If I am smart, its because I made mistakes. Now mistakes are better off not being made, but what is really a tragedy is if you make them and don’t learn. Otherwise, you make the same mistake over and over.” I sort of understood then, as well as a 10 year old could, but over the years, that statement has progressively made more and more sense.
The same logic is applied in medicine. We try to learn from mistakes as well as successes. We try to figure out what was done right, and what was done in less than an optimal way. Maybe not wrong, but there may have been a more right approach. Meetings are held to review various medical cases, focus on those with unexpected complications or outcomes. Depending on the hospital, which group of doctors, etc, these may be monthly or quarterly. But the general way they are held is a group of similar providers, family practice, pediatricians, surgeons, etc. meets, they have a certain number of cases to review. Usually submitted by the doctor who had been taking care of the particular patient. Identifying information is redacted, but the overall case, medical conditions, treatment, changes in patient condition, changes in treatment, etc are presented. Everyone takes notes and then after the case is fully presented, people start discussing it. The first time I went to one as a student, it seemed almost like a roast, like the provider that presented the case was attacked. Yet, he or she sat there, not getting upset, defensive or angry. They were trying to learn, EVERYONE there was trying to learn. Why? So that people would either get a chance to become smart or wise. Learn from their own mistake, or those of others. The information is picked apart, labs, xrays, each note, each medication to see if there was a gross error, a minor mistake, or if it was just one of those cases that no one could have treated successfully. No other treatment would have made a difference in the end. Sometimes, the presenting provider does feel somewhat attacked, you can see some start to get defensive. Once that occurs, if they don’t take a breath, realize it is a learning experience and put their ego in check, no one learns. I have never seen anyone get up and leave, they realize they need to learn from the case, so they hang in there. Once that case is over, the next one begins. Each taking the hot seat, that, by presenting the case they chose, is of their own making. But each provider there wants to get smarter or wiser. No one likes to be the one being scrutinized, but each takes their turn, each gets to scrutinize not only themselves, but the others. Its about learning to be better at their jobs, better at helping people.
I try to apply this approach to learning on my life in general, at work, at home, and in my Christian life. I want to know how to get smart or even better wise if possible. I look back at various experiences, the good and the bad. I reflect on my actions and my reactions to things. What did I do in a certain situation that was the absolute most right way to do it? What times did I do something less than perfect, or maybe down right terribly wrong? While I would love to only look and say, I did this, and this and this, just right, and pretend no wrong, no mistakes. I know that is not reality. And, like with my grandson, I learn better by figuring out my mistakes and adjusting my ways to avoid making the same mistake again. There may be some, or many, that prefer to avoid looking at their mistakes, I find that I do myself a huge disservice when I do that. I don’t like admitting mistakes, I don’t like feeling I have flaws. But, only if I can identify those mistakes can I correct them. What have I done, how, why, when, etc that hurt or could hurt, my Christian walk? What behaviors have kept me away from Christ, or would possibly cause me to backslide?
I will be very honest, I DO NOT LIKE to scrutinize myself, I often don’t like what I see when I take an objective look. But, when I see differences in me now, compared to a week, or a month ago, I am glad I do that. It has helped me. I, unfortunately, will make more mistakes. I don’t plan to do that, I don’t want to do that, but it is part of being human. When it happens, I will try to reflect, compare to other instances, see what about each thing was done better, or worse, and try to take the right actions from each, see what the scripture says. Find the things others have done, how it tells me Christ wants me to act and apply what I learn, so eventually, if in similar circumstances in the future, I won’t repeat the mistakes.
4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.
6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:4-10
So, I challenge all, myself included, to not think oneself smart or wise, try to find all the flaws, the spirits of error as once you see them, you can fix them and you will be better for having done so. I wish I could say I have finished learning about me, but that will be a never ending task.
Lord, I worship Your grace and majesty. I praise You for all that You are. I know I am flawed, have made many mistakes, and I thank You for the forgiveness of those sins. I thank You for the gift of Your Son, Christ, to take the burden of my sins. I ask that You help me better understand the mistakes, so I can avoid them in the future. Help me better seek You, and the perfect grace You provide. I ask You work in the hearts and minds of loved ones. Those who know You, draw nearer, those that do not, work in their hearts that they will be saved. I ask You continue to show me Your plan, help me better prepare myself for Your way in my life.
Once again, I thank you all who make it this far. I hope all have a blessed day, and are able to be a blessing to others.