Some of us may have seen the movie called Inception with Leonardo DiCaprio. 

In the event you have not seen the movie, the premise can be summarized in this one quote: 

“What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient…highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain, it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed – fully understood – that sticks; right in there somewhere.” – Dom Cobb

I was reminded of this quote earlier this week while I was speaking to a few colleagues. 

The first colleague was prepping me for a call and advised me to “tone it down.” Simply stated, he thought it would be best if I didn’t wear a bright red suit coat, wasn’t as animated as I typically am with my hands, and tried to be a little less passionate. 

The second conversation was before recording our new podcast this week. AJ reminded me that I tend to fill up those little spaces (where my words try to catch up to my thoughts) with phrases such as, “you know, for me personally, as I was saying.” 

As we were recording I started to become extremely conscious of each time I said one of the above phrases which made me say it more during our recordings. I became so aware that it almost consumed my thoughts and I took a long pause at one moment to collect my thoughts and lead with a different phrase, only to fall back on the “you know.” 

For the meeting, I didn’t wear my typical red sport coat. I held my hands together so I would prevent myself from talking with my hands. As a follow-up, the same person who told me to be less animated provided feedback that I didn’t seem my typical passionate self. 

Why does this observation matter? 

Two reasons. 

First, the people we surround ourselves with influence us. Their thoughts, ideas, opinions, actions, and views on the world around them have a direct impact on our own reality. We need to be aware and acknowledge, and at the same time, remember to be true to ourselves. 

Second, the things we read, the things we watch, the information we consume shape our own perceptions of the world. It is because of this influence I feel it is imperative to set time aside each week to disconnect from the digital space and immerse ourselves in the analog space. I also believe it is important to set time aside each week to allow ourselves to explore new ideas, new concepts, and new themes that are outside our typical interests. We need new (to ourselves not necessarily the world) themes to inspire creativity, innovation, and design. 

This concept is important for the world of medicine (and the pseudo business called healthcare). For innovation to occur, we must look beyond the four walls of a hospital, a lecture hall, or our typical medical journals. 

We also need to look beyond ourselves and the dogmatic hierarchy of medicine. We need to remember that while one may have the most medical expertise in the room, that there is another person in the same room who has the most expertise in the context of their own life. 

What happens if the patient and the physician work together to plant a seed that allows that relationship to grow with listening, understanding, and respect? 

Perhaps it grows into delivering care at the N of 1. 

Please email your comments, thoughts, questions, or ideas to me directly at You can also find me on Twitter and Instagram.


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