A More Patient Kind of Skill

Much of what ails us requires a more patient kind of skill.
Atul Gawande, MD

This butterfly image has always been a favorite of mine. It speaks to me of the ever so subtle and slow process of transformation – of becoming one’s true self, of daring to dream and of trusting that, in time, something beautiful will emerge. Today, I celebrate with my two colleagues, Doug & Tom, the birthing of our beautiful work in the world, Interior by Design Associates-Cultivating Wholeheartedness in Healthcare. It has been a process we have gently honored and carefully tended. A process as Atul Gawande, MD states in his recent New York Times article, entitled, The Heroism of Incremental Care, “requires a more patient kind of skill”.  (Link to article)

Gawande, a renowned general surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, does a masterful job of comparing and contrasting, through detailed patient stories, the value and difference of two kinds of care, surgical care – “a definitive intervention at a critical moment in a person’s life, with a clear, calculable, frequently transformative outcome” and primary care (incremental care) – “a place for prevention and maintenance and incremental progress against difficult problems”.

With great attention given to the fragility of the human condition, the complexity of our present healthcare delivery system, the fluctuating moods of the human heart and last but not least, the intrinsic artistry and skill of primary care practitioners, he seeks to answer the question, What really is the primary practitioner’s skill? What is their hallmark? Gawande comes to the realization that the answer is multi-dimensional and I dare say, interior by design. He believes it is “about being comfortable with waiting, about steadfastness, about cultivating relational trust and about taking the longer view of incremental steps that produce sustained progress”.

As I reflected on his insightful assessment, I realized how closely this way of practicing medicine is aligned with Interior by Design’s mission, vision and values. We are the incrementalist, taking the long view, being comfortable with waiting, building relational trust, facilitating courageous conversations and cultivating wholeheartedness in healthcare. As we joyfully celebrate the birthing of our work in the world, we invite you to pause, to take the long view, to live into the questions that you hold in your heart and to become “interior by design”. Here are a few to ponder:

  • Who are you becoming in the work that you do?
  • What adds beauty and meaning to your life and work?
  • What dreams do you dare to dream?