Projecting optimism in the ophthalmology practice while acknowledging reality

December 15, 2008
Peter J. McDonnell, MD

He is director of The Wilmer Eye Institute, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, and chief medical editor of Ophthalmology Times.

Some speculate that the current economic crisis is a result of financial institutions' misplaced optimism and trust in their companies. Ophthalmologists, who run practices, departments, divisions, etc., have to strike the right balance between sharing and recognizing the realities of whatever problems organizations face, and express the confidence that they can be overcome if the right things are done.

Key Points

"I have not yet begun to fight." -John Paul Jones

"We have more capital than we need, so we can say to the market that we don't need more injections. We can confirm that we have tackled the problem." -John Thain, chief executive officer (CEO), Merrill Lynch

"The worst is behind us." -Richard Fuld, CEO, Lehman Brothers

My friend, who is an ophthalmologist, has a daughter who is a USC Song Girl, so we needed to be there. You have seen these young women on the sidelines of the football field on television-pretty, smiling, dancing, and shaking their pom-poms (has anyone else noticed that the daughters of ophthalmologists are always beautiful?). They smile at the crowd and dance with tremendous enthusiasm whether their Trojans are dominating or losing to their opponents. In this particular game, USC crushed the Cavaliers of UVA. But the reality of the score doesn't matter; the Song Girls are always happy and excited (or at least they appear to be).

Jones, as you no doubt recall from your American history classes, was the American revolutionary naval officer whose ship was being blasted by a vastly superior British vessel.1 The British captain asked Jones to surrender. Despite the severe damage to his ship (the Bon Homme Richard) and the loss of many of his sailors, the optimistic Jones yelled, "I have not yet begun to fight!"

His crew went on to board the British vessel and win the battle. The Richard ended up sinking, and half of Jones' sailors died, but the charismatic and optimistic leader lives in history as the prototypical naval war hero for rallying his men on to victory against all odds.

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