The most important things are simple – but they're not easy

dvm360dvm360 July 2019
Volume 50
Issue 6

Meaningful personal and professional growth may come at a level that seems easy as pie. Like so basic that surely the veterinary profession succeeds at it already. But no.

Much like baking, meaningful personal and professional growth may seem easy until you encounter those few complex steps. (sweetlaniko /

Well-being author and speaker Mike Robbins tells us that the advice we give others is often the exact advice we need ourselves. As the Sermon on the Mount admonishes us, “ … First remove the log out of your own eye, then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.” Sort of like, “People who live in glass houses … ”

We all have the solution to our friends' problems. So, here's a thought: Maybe it's time we all listen to our own advice rather than doling it out like Halloween candy.

I don't know about you, but I struggle with seemingly universal issues. It isn't easy. Maybe that's why they're called struggles. Relationships, truthfulness, tolerance, compassion ... you get the idea. Where do you wish you could hold yourself to a higher ideal? In the quest to be your best, most amazing self, where would you want to dial up your effort just one more notch?

I think we can all grow by focusing on the simple and basic. For example:

Be honest. I know. We're all honest, right? Then why is the world so full of doubt, mistrust and accusations? The more open and honest we are with ourselves and about ourselves the less likely we are to be arrogant, judgmental, self-righteous or defensive about our own need for love and support-and the more likely we are to be compassionate toward others.

Be compassionate. We are all doing the best we can at any moment. Having compassion is really simple, but it is not easy. Start by giving yourself a break. When we can get off our own back and forgive ourselves (not as easy as it sounds) then we are on the road to giving others that same gift.

Stop fighting for perfection. Perfection doesn't exist. So, stop asking for perfection from yourself and others. We all screw up sometimes. And recognizing and accepting that is a first step toward acceptance of yourself and others. Turn down the heat under your burner and give yourself space to be you and impact others in a positive way.

Dr. Paul is the former executive director of the Companion Animal Parasite Council and a former president of the American Animal Hospital Association. He is currently the principal of MAGPIE Veterinary Consulting. He is retired from practice and lives in Anguilla, British West Indies.

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