How to be professional – and other idiotic advice.

A few years ago, I was busy taking photographs, even selling some of them, earning commissions and learning all the time how it could be done better. I was asked by a camera club to give a talk on some aspect of photography – something like “making the most of the environment”. I was happy to.
Waiting for the session to start, a gentleman approached me…
“You’re talking tonight? Are you nervous? Does it not worry you? I mean we are all quite good you know?”
Anyway, brushing that aside, I stood and I talked and then I did a critique session – not on other people’s images but on a selection of my own. The aim being to bring to light where I thought I could improve – using the points from my talk – this, as planned, led to a discussion about technical aspects of camera use, seeing the light and post-production. There were a lot of great ideas from club members with a range of experiences. It went well.
When I got home (which took a while as I went to the pub with the club guys afterwards) I found an email waiting for me. It was from the old guy (whom, he told me, had been into photography for years and had “worked in the industry”) and it went something like this…
Well done, I can see you are a very confident young lady (note my grumpy heart rate starting to rise at this point) however I have something to say about your talk. It appears to me that you do not understand what it is to be professional. By that I mean, it is time you learned that standing up and critiquing yourself should NEVER be done. You must NEVER show people anything other than your very best work (assuming you have better work) and NEVER point out your faults.  I have been a professional for many years and I would NEVER allow this to happen. You have a lot to learn.
So, just let that sink in…
I was completely blown away. What a bizarre and quite frankly moronic piece of advice.
This was not one of those moments to wait until I calmed down to reply….and he got the full force, straight away. I went to bed raging. He didn’t agree with my response…he replied that I would learn one day and if I couldn’t then I should give up trying to be a “professional”.
I didn’t need his advice but maybe I needed the conversation – because the more I think about it, the more I know he is just plain wrong and I am strengthened in my resolve to prove him so.
Can you imagine, just for one minute, if we NEVER discussed how we could do things better?

Advice to my junior Dr self – but will I listen?



What advice would you give your younger self, just graduated from medical school and about to start as a Foundation Year One doctor?

I love reading the sometimes hilarious #tipsfornewdocs and they will probably start appearing again pretty soon but we usually see these articles and blogs pop up all the time – asking people what they would advise their younger selves about to start it all. I was reading a rather good one the other day and that’s when it struck me.

Not only do I have advice for my younger self starting FY1 – I am also in a position to listen. I have this chance to advise my FY1 self, 8 years on, because I am about to start it again.

Yeah sure, these things will not be based on the last 7 years as a clinician – but they are based on the few years of the life that has happened since…and maybe that’s a good thing?

So, at the risk of sounding a bit Baz Lurhmann…

Ten things I am trying to get through to my younger self:

1. Wear sunscreen – but accept that the guidance for you to do so WILL change.
When you do need to change, don’t be annoyed that you’ve been doing it for years, those days are gone, things change. Move on.
Did I mention Baz Luhrmann?

2. Nobody expects you to know everything. If by chance you do know the obscure answer to a seemingly random academic question on your next ward round then this will actually surprise everyone. Honestly, don’t worry – the students will be back soon so it will take the heat off.
Also, however much you read today – it will not come up on tomorrow’s ward round. But that’s not the point is it?

3. It is really hard to make a right turn in busy city traffic but it isn’t impossible. Be patient but be ready to pounce when the time is right. Should you make it, you will get home quicker but failing that, you can keep making left turns and you’ll probably still get home.

4. Advice is about them, not about you. Advice from anyone is about what THEY would do, based on THEIR experience. Say thanks, consider it, but you must add your own experiences to the pot too.   

5. THAT vending machine. You know the one, at the end of the corridor outside Ward 8 – right outside the ED back door. JUST STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM IT.

6. The opinions of only a very few people actually matter. I don’t think I can put this better than Brene Brown. This is quite lengthy viewing but worth every wonderful minute.

7. If you are in a room full of people and you can’t tell which one is the jackass –then it is probably you. (This I stole from my big brother @iAndyThompson – but it’s OK to steal…steal like an artist.)

8. Remember to ask yourself – What is the worst case scenario? 
Sometimes it happens as an afterthought but do try to use this idea in the moment. Right now, at this moment…what really is the worst thing that could happen? It doesn’t bear thinking about and in truth, it will never be that bad. So go on, feel the fear and do it anyway.
I’m going to remind myself of that when I feel a bit shy about pressing PUBLISH.

9. You can Google the answer to anything – and so can everyone else.
Except I tried to find a picture of the hangar at Fightertown, Miramar (the one with the lat/long coordinate plaque above the door) but I couldn’t find one…not even on google.

10. If you make a reference to Top Gun, be prepared for the kids to stare back blankly. Remember that 1986 was nearly thirty years ago and move on.

Come on, your turn…anything to add?

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