What the Mayo Clinic can teach us about personal growth

Last weekend, I watched “The May Clinic: Faith, Hope, and Science” by Ken Burns. I’ve always been a fan of Ken Burns’ work, and this documentary was a fascinating look into one of the greatest hospitals on earth, its history, innovation, and the people they’ve helped. At times, it was very touching.

The Mayo clinic is named after founding doctors William Mayo and his sons William and Charles. One of the things that struck me about the documentary was their commitment to learning and teaching. They made medicine collaborative. In the documentary, medical historians argue that in their day, doctors weren’t always keen on sharing what worked with other doctors out of fear that someone could just turn around and use their techniques.

The Mayo brothers always had an open hand with their methods, knowing that it was for the greater good. They also extensively traveled and learned from others. The documentary claims that William Mayo (the son) saw surgeries performed in every American and Canadian city with a population over 100,000 people and that he traveled to Europe upwards of 15 times to see surgeries done by the leading doctors of the day. That’s commitment. It’s commitment to learning, to being the best you can be, to learning from the best, to always being at the cutting edge.

I believe that mentality is part of why Mayo was (and continues to be) one of the leading hospitals in the world. But I also think there’s wisdom in that for all of us. We need to always be learning from others and bettering ourselves. We need to appreciate that there’s always more to learn and things that people can teach us. No matter how much expertise we have in an area (and Mayo was certainly one of the great surgeons of his day), that we can continue to get better and better.

With anything that really matters in life, there’s never a time where we’ve truly arrived and reached a point where we have no room to grow.

We also shouldn’t feel pressure to have all of the answers or have everything figured out. There is always wisdom and insight to be gleaned from others.

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Josh Benner  has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has served churches in Minnesota and Illinois. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in St. Louis.