Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The GTF - Over - Yourself - Puppet

Ever have those days when you feel like patting yourself on the back for things like doing the dishes? Or your past accomplishments seem good enough?  Your ego is swelled, and your trophies are what keeps your chin up?

Well then, have I got the thing for you!

You, my friend, need to go out and make yourself a GTF-Over-Yourself-Puppet.

Step 1: Find a pillow, a duffel bag or whatever.
Step 2: Decorate is with your A papers, your medals, your trophies, and whatever else that makes your nose stick up (a picture of yourself might be a good idea if you've ever found yourself buying yourself a drink).
Step 3: Play a ridiculously awesome 80s song.
Step 4: Jump over your puppet over and over until you've worked up a sweat.

Congratulations.  You have successfully gotten over yourself and are ready to get back to work.

This is what I do on those days when things don't feel like they're working out, when things just aren't going MY way, and when I feel down because maybe it's been a while since I've received a gold star.  This is what I do when I feel myself plateau and when I feel flat.  This is what I do when my own thoughts are so annoying with praise for so-called "good deeds."

I mean seriously, these are the days when I desperately need my mantra to be, "Get over yourself, and remember you're really a total dork...and don't you forget it!"

The trend is common in medical students.  We get smarter, we think we should get some kind of praise, we start to look down on others who might not be as smart, and we can lose perspective.  We can become comfortable with our state of knowledge.  We can think, "Well I did well on that one thing that one time, so I'm great and there's no reason to improve."

Ever have those days when you start treating others, maybe even patients, a little differently because you've accomplished something or won something? You get a little smug? Your identity is now linked to a medal?

You need to GTF over yourself.

And here's why.  Sure, you should be proud of your accomplishments. What you did is important, and hard effort deserves some acknowledgement, but when we link our identities to accomplishments, we're setting ourselves up for failure.  What if you didn't have the trophy? Are you still better than your neighbor? Does that prize you won make you a better human being? Really?  I don't think so.

Incentives for striving to do our best are great to motivate us into producing product, but it comes at a price if we don't keep ourselves and our motives in check.

Remember the scene from Titanic when the passenger could no longer buy a seat on the lifeboat? Money didn't matter anymore just like our silly papers and awards don't actually mean anything.  When you die, your accomplishments don't go with you.

All you can strive for is to leave a legacy that has made the world a better place.

Your trophies? Who cares? Your medals? Will they save you against a tiger in the jungle? Nope.
You know what does though: character, hard work, and commitment to making the world and our communities better (note: I probably exaggerated; I'm not really sure if these things will actually save you from a tiger).

Regardless, your spirit is what touches people, moves people, and has the ability to change people.  Trophies, awards and empty compliments don't move anyone.

Incentives might catalyze action and cause motivation, but it's empty if the incentive comes without purpose.

So today, if you're looking for credit, a pat on the back, get out the GTF-Over-Yourself-Puppet, start making a fool of yourself and get out and serve somebody.

DISCLAIMER: The only reason I know so much about this topic is because I need it.  I think I was born with an extra gene for arrogance, so I have to practice this technique.  I'm not claiming to be some saint of humility.  I'm just a human who sometimes just needs to find creative ways to stay humble.

P.S. Please feel free to leave your own GTF Over Yourself songs in the comment section below!  Maybe we can make a GTF over yourself soundtrack...stay tuned...


  1. Ego - Kanye West and Beyonce
    You're So Vain - Carly Simon
    Get Over It - Eagles
    The Safety Dance - Men Without Hats

  2. Hmmm, I can't think of any songs off the top of my head but I am with you on this movement Vicki. I think we all have this tendency if we allow it, it's sad that we don't think higher of ourselves for the character we have and not the awards. Wonderful post.

    By the way, I not only follow you, I missed you when you were super busy but I totally looked forward to your next post as I always do:)