Upon Comparing Oneself to Others (del Giorgio)

This beautiful essay by Paul del Giorgio in the Bulletin of Limnology and Oceanography is timely and prompts a lot of self-reflection on my part. I’m talking to you: all you high-achieving physicians/APP’s who had to be top of your class year after year and never turned off that competitive streak in your career…

Original Article Here:

This prompts several questions for me:

  • Who is this thoughtful person?
  • What the heck is Limnology?
  • Is he writing this for me? (yes, he is)
  • Can Dall-E draw this for me? What would that look like?

from Bing - Dall-E generator

(from Dall-E: except this unhappy self-comparing doctor has 3 hands… and maybe extra fingers too)

CMIO’s take? This is reminiscent of my Failure Resumé. And so articulate. The entire article is a brief read, maybe 5 minutes. It was very much worth my time and maybe worth it for you. Be well, friends.

Your professional decline is sooner than you think (The Atlantic)

Yes, it is. Sadly, I think I’m talking about myself.

Screenshot From The Atlantic article


There is a difference, David Brooks says, between “resume virtues” and “eulogy virtues.” The challenge is recognizing when in our work lives, the second (should) become more important than the first.

A really thought provoking essay.

And, profoundly saddening.

Jump. Serve. Worship. Connect. Behave differently in the last third of your life, compared the first (primarily growing and learning) or second (working toward recognition, wealth, power).

Ray Dalio also encourages us to think about this in his book Principles (or the much more readable comic version of Principles). The arc of life is long, and many of us look at the pebbles in our path instead of the compass and the horizon.

I’ve began to value my work and home relationships more, and be less slavish to urgent, less-important emails (The ONE Thing). Turning off notifications, dipping less into social media, learning to focus, be strategic, step back and think big picture. Let others gain and grow in the spotlight.

CMIO’s take? Look at ME! I have the humility to admit that coaching and mentorship are magnificent force-multipliers and so much more gratifying than solo achievement! (see what I did there?)

How to Log Off (MIT tech review)

Wellness requires controlling your tech. Favorite quote: “What is your bigger, better offer?”


from MIT tech review

If you’re like me, you struggle with the addiction to online media sites (eg: what you scrolling right now, that you’re reading this?).

Love the ideas on this post from the MIT technology review, particularly step 3: find the “bigger, better offer”, once you recognize: you’re in a habit loop, the endless scroll triggers micro-dopamine. Create even a small break in that cycle and find something that is a “bigger, better offer” that is aligned with what YOU want out of life, not just mindless scrolling.

Good luck to all of us.

Perception Box: Elizabeth Koch’s take on self-examination and connection with others (NYTimes)

“The Billionaire’s Daughter Knows What You’re Thinking” (and she’s not wrong)

I’m hopeful when I read articles about people like Ms. Koch. Daughter of a billionaire, very much aware of her privilege, and exploring herself and inviting others to examine their own assumptions about their own lives and that of others.

CMIO’s take? I think we need more introspection and openness like this.

What are your non-negotiables / daily joyful habits? (NYtimes)

Do you have a daily habit that brings you joy, or clarity, or peace? Why? or why not? NYTimes asked its readers.

Link to article below:

What Are Your ‘Non-Negotiables’? Readers Share Wellness Rituals – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

We know that setting fewer goals (actually setting just ONE dramatically improves your likelihood of success) is better for you. And in the pursuit of that one goal, setting a daily habit is crucial to achieving it.

If, for example, your goal is “being present” or “being more joyful”, it helps to set a daily habit that moves you in the right direction. Is it a daily walk? a daily 30 minute read? A daily 10 minute sketch? A daily swim? Stretch? Birdwatch?

From the article, I particularly love the “gin rummy” habit at 6pm, between husband and wife. Popcorn, hot tea, play 5 hands, fiercely contested, joyfully celebrated by the winner. And, 5 minutes later, no one can remember who won.

CMIO’s take: Dear readers, what non-negotiable daily habit do YOU have that brings you joy, and can share with us? We are all looking for inspiration.

My conversation on Designing for Health (podcast and a ukulele song)

What does mindfulness mean to a CMIO? Also, patient engagement, information transparency, and FAILURE? And finally, gratitude. Listen all the way through for a special treat. #Podcast #healthcare #healthIT #hitsm #whyinformatics #hcldr #somedocs


You’ve been choosing your goals all wrong (Wired)

Yup, what were you thinking? Don’t you know each goal cascades into multiple sub-goals, and pretty soon, you’re drowning? So what is the solution?

Photo of author’s son, from our visual travelogue as we hiked The Narrows in Zion Canyon a couple years ago.


CMIO’s take? Set a goal (not multiple goals: ONE), and have the discipline to choose a daily habit to support it. Set it SMALL. No, smaller than that. And then stick to it. Yes, let’s both try it.

“That’s a waxing gibbous. That means it’s going to get bigger” (NYTimes)

‘Luddite’ Teens Don’t Want Your Likes. When the only thing better than a flip phone is no phone at all.

From Scott Rossi for the NYTimes

Luddite Teens Don’t Want Your Likes

This is a fascinating throwback to the Luddite Movement where workers rebelled against the new machinery.

This is teens taking back their lives from the pressures of social media.

I think we could all learn something from these teens. Yes, I realize I’m a CMIO.

How to Think Outside Your Brain (NYTimes.com)


This is awesome in several ways (read the article, link above).

  1. Having a “creative desk” full of glue, scissors, sticky notes, colored pens is always better when designing something. Once done, you can move to your computer and finish it at your “publishing desk”. This research tells you why (you can think outside your brain using your body and your physical space)
  2. The EHR (electronic health record) is a way to help your brain think, if we do it right. Do we do it right? This is “using tools” to augment our thinking.
  3. Then we have “other people’s minds” with the hint that teams who know how to draw on complementary skills from others in a team, perform better than individuals or uncoordinated teams. What does that teach us about our informatics work?

I will have to sit with this article for awhile. What are you taking away from it?

My Gratitude Letter (to Dr. Fred Platt), and why you should write one too

Learning to write a gratitude letter is worthy exercise, for both the writer and the recipient. There are surprises here …

In our wellness work, we learn surprising things about ourselves.

First, that expressing gratitude benefits both the giver and the recipient, in terms of mood and overall health.

Best of all, giving gratitude, unlike carefully wrapped, commercially-obtained holiday gifts, is FREE.

One particular activity worth noting, is the GRATITUDE LETTER.
Here’s how to do it.
Write a letter to someone for whom you are grateful, and tell them why.
Make an appointment to see them in person.
Read the letter out loud to them.

The research tells us that both the giver and recipient receive a months-long boost in mood from that event.


Reader, I did this last week. I’m here to tell you how it went. One of my mentors is Dr. Fred Platt, author of many peer-reviewed articles and books on Physician-Patient Communication: Field Guide to the Difficult Patient Interview, and the Annals of Internal Medicine’s Words that Matter series, including “Let me see if I have this right …“. In later years, he wrote poetry.

He helped me get started in academic medicine, in teaching medical students, in learning how to be an excellent communicator, in being a better doctor, a better colleague, a better human being.

Now, decades later, his health declining, I wrote him a letter, made an appointment, and drove to see him. He only had the energy for a 30-minute visit, but loved the letter enough to have his wife and I read it to him twice.

Not a dry eye in the house.

I will miss you, Dr. Platt. Thank you.

November, 2022

Dear Fred

Thank you for the chance to tell you how you’ve changed my life.

I met you at the Bayer Institute CPC Workshop: Clinician-Patient Communication to Improve Health Outcomes. You facilitated a group of 16 junior faculty in Internal Medicine in 1997, and taught me, among other things, Reflective Listening: “So, it sounds like you’re having some belly pain, and it is going down to the right side, and you think it is … gout? Do I have that right?”

I learned about Ideas, Feelings and Values, and it changed my life. I became a Bayer-certified Communications Facilitator to follow your footsteps.

You took me under your wing, you re-ignited my passion for patient care, and gently taught me tools for difficult conversations: “On the one hand you think … On the other hand I worry …”

You co-founded Foundations of Doctoring at University of Colorado. Our initial trials at teaching communication in lecture halls met with abject failure. 160 students at the first lecture, and only 5 come to the second one.

We repeatedly redesigned the course until it really sang: 1 standardized patient, 4 student learners coaching each other, and a facilitator guiding ILS: Invite, Listen, Summarize. I use and teach these tools today to incoming students.

You generously asked me to co-author numerous communications papers, published in several journals, including the series WORDS THAT MATTER in the Annals of Internal Medicine. We discussed a number of delightful cases, including the case of the patient who ate too many pies at work, and wanted to claim workman’s compensation, prompting an outburst from my resident.

For this computer-geek doctor, you taught me compassion and connection and relationship-building. These are my guiding principles to this day. In my national travels and talks that I give in the Informatics world, there are few who have had a mentor like you.

I am proud to teach your ideas that words matter, communication matters, relationships matter.

I’ve learned over the years, that I have an internal Judge voice, who sounds suspiciously like my father, and an internal Sage voice, who I call Fred.

I am so grateful for your teaching, your counsel, your collegiality, and your friendship.

Thank you, Fred.

With Love
CT Lin
Chief Medical Information Officer, UCHealth
Professor of Medicine, University of Colorado


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