When I study my life, I wonder how I did it. How did I beat the odds and overcome life’s obstacles? Since I was a young boy, growing up in lower middle-class Chicago, I have had any number of potentially life-changing encounters--and not of the auspicious sort, to be sure. It is intriguing to me that despite these encounters, and the very circumstances from which they were spawned, I find myself where I am today. After deliberating this piece for Love Sanctuary, I find that it is not a mystery, nor a fluke, coming from some power outside of me. On the contrary, I see clearly that my success had (and still has) to do almost completely with what I think about myself.
While there was no phase in my life that was completely free of naysayers, sometimes the distractions came from the most surprising places. Many of my detractors, believe it or not, were physicians themselves. Dr. Grace (last name left out for anonymity) was a pediatrician, who in attempts to bolster her position in the university, worked for a short while in the laboratory where I earned my PhD (prior to going to medical school). I distinctly remember looking to her for advice in a private conversation. She discussed the difficulty of her medical training. As she lamented about her experience, she turned to me and said, “David, I don’t think you would make it in medical school.” Very plainly and matter-of-factly—just like that. I sort of chuckled inside. Dr. Grace was, shall I say, new to the field of cellular and molecular cardiac physiology, and, in many ways, it showed. But by this time, I was a senior graduate student with many awards and had already published a number of original papers on my work. I wondered what gave her that idea. But really it didn’t matter what she thought. The very fabric from which I was formed said the exact opposite—that I could do, be or have whatever I desired. I had already seen myself in medical school and beyond. In my mind, it was a foregone conclusion. Poor Dr.Grace didn’t know that, nor did she seem to understand the power of thought.
I will distill my lessons into these few aphoristic statements. 1) What you see is what you get! What you literally envision in your mind’s eye, you will manifest in your life and affairs--good or bad. Nothing that I’ve ever accomplished came before a vision of it. Whether it was a new bike or graduating from medical school, the image of it always preceded the achievement. This works in both ways. If you hold out a mental picture of a negative experience, you’ll still experience it. The good news? You can change your vision! 2) Things can happen to you, against you and around you, but the only things that really matter are the ones that happen in you. This is huge! It speaks to ultimate power of your thought. Nothing has power to change your ultimate experience because only you control your thinking about yourself, your world and your place in it. I love this so much. I can’t tell you how many unwitting souls along my journey tried to dissuade me, saying that I wouldn’t succeed, that I couldn’t make it. If I hadn’t had the constitution of thought and proper mental diet, perhaps they would’ve been proven right. If I had adopted their image of me, of course, I wouldn’t have accomplished anything. It is because what they said had little negative effect on me--literally meant nothing--that I can write this to you now. Lesson: what you think you experience. The good news? You can change what you think!
No matter where you are in your life or affairs, always know that Spring time always follows even the coldest Winters. That glimpse of light in any season is the very knowledge that you have the final say. Ask yourself, “what am I seeing for myself?”, “what do I think about myself?". If you don’t like the answers, change them!
About Dr. Dave David E. Montgomery MD, PhD, FACC is a board-certified cardiologist who focuses on preventing heart and vascular disease at the Piedmont Heart Institute in Atlanta, Georgia. He received his MD from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, where he continued his medical training, including an internship and residency in Internal Medicine as well as clinical and advanced fellowships in Cardiology/Cardiovascular Diseases. His patient care and clinical work as a resident won him induction into the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. He is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology. He also holds memberships in a number of other organizations, including the American Heart Association, the National Lipid Association and the American College of Cardiology.
Dr. Dave, as he is fondly called online, is the Executive Producer and Host of the refreshing new web series, The Good Doctor, which brings health, motivation and entertainment together seamlessly. Tune in to The Good Doctor to learn, laugh and be uplifted. TheGoodDoctorTV.com
For more on Dr. Dave visit davemontgomerymd.com