Approaching the close of a busy year of travel and public speaking I am reminded of a gap in my narrative. I lack an elevator speech. Now don't get me wrong, I can certainly share my latest data insights or a particularly interactive workshop that I loved giving but if I had to say one thing--just one thing--what would it be?
I want it to be unique and free of attachment. A sort of "cosmic giggle" that recognizes the futility of stringing together the right order of words that will resonate with someone. I seriously have mediated on this "hinderance" and only discovered its lack of relevance.
How does "recovering medical writer that got tired of focusing on client profit motives instead of point of care decisions that matter, so studied applied analytics and data visualization" sound?
I don't like how the typical descriptors hang flat in the air, "data analyst", "data visualization professional", "insight analyst" and why pick one over the other? I am reminded of the five hindrances of buddhism. These negative mental states are what many of us sit with through mindful meditation. Maybe its just me but I see how seamlessly they apply to impeding not only our meditation practice but also how we walk through our business life. Ram Dass speaks of radio channels and frequencies of engagement but I don't want to get to woo woo. If this sort of thing is intriguing to you here is a link to Who Are You.
Here is the wrinkle. We are instructed to use key words and tags that will yield us discoverable. What if you enjoy your work but simultaneously don't want to adapt to the flotsam of "being picked"? Seth Godin says it best, “The next time you catch yourself being average when you feel like quitting, realize that you have only two good choices: Quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers.”
I would also be interested to hear if your knee-jerk response to "So what do you do?" changes as constantly as mine does. It feels so dynamic in real life. Especially if you spend a nontrivial amount of time engaged in ongoing conversations. Talking to peers and colleagues aligns different edges to your thought processes.
A recent twitter post from a colleague described what I do quite succinctly. I write about topics of interest in the data healthcare sphere and people hire me to talk about it. This blog wasn't designed to be that sort of a platform but here we are.
Now, it’s interesting how subtle and yet how formal our identities are, and how much we’re attached to them, because of how much we are used to our cards of identity.
To be honest with you, I have been sitting in this metaphysical realm since hearing about a few devastating diagnoses in my circle of friends. It made me contemplate my own identity. Am I simply my awareness? Can I make choices separate from my "identity"? Does your work life get a free pass simply because we have sold out to things that we think matter?
What are your business goals? Clicks and shares? Monetizing? SEO? No thanks. I want to be able to sit down and write about the tensions or complexities in healthcare, health economics, and health policy. We all know how to Kardashian-ize a headline or create titillating content. Count me out.
I find graphics like the one published by Vox to be mesmerizing and worthy of deeper analyses and consideration. If more of us were data literate and fluent, we would be empowered to question answers and delve a little deeper. That is going to be my 2020. My focus will be to share more tools, shape more data explorations, and guide us all into collectively doing a little better.
My free newsletter will continue to focus on many of these principles. This blog will continue to gather insights and share careful considerations. Although many of us continue to work over the holiday weeks, we share a history with many of the curious that preceded our humble efforts.
The quote that originated the phrase "Comfort the Afflicted, Afflict the Comfortable" is from 1902. A humorist, Finley Peter Dunne would write pronouncements in an Irish dialectical speech according to the Quote Investigator. A rendering from the website states the following in standard spelling...
The newspaper does everything for us. It runs the police force and the banks, commands the militia, controls the legislature, baptizes the young, marries the foolish, comforts the afflicted, afflicts the comfortable, buries the dead and roasts them afterward.
If you think of newspapers from 1902 as the 2019 "media" the parallels remain even if often they are tongue in cheek. We have a responsibility to not simply serve our own interests but to dig deeper and offer granularity. The devil is indeed in the details and what better way to afflict the comfortable?
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In a world of "evidence-based" medicine I am a bigger fan of practice-based evidence.
Remember the quote by Upton Sinclair...
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”