Dean's Column: Summer Gladness

Michael Reddy

Dean Michael Reddy

The other day I found myself sitting on my living room floor, with a cardboard box for a table, reflecting on the move that has brought me here to San Francisco. While contemplating all the things that I want to do at UCSF, and imaging how much more comfortable it would be with furniture, something on the box caught my eye: "The coldest beer you'll ever drink is a Summer in San Francisco!"

It was an ad for Anchor Steam Summer Wheat Beer and, of course, a twist on the well-known Mark Twain remark about our weather: "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."

Yes, I know every July, throngs of tourists shiver in shorts and T-shirts, getting a fog-shrouded view of the Golden Gate Bridge. It's a boon for the local sweatshirt industry and makes for a memorable story. I must say, though, the weather mostly has been pretty nice, especially compared with 90 degrees and 90-percent humidity.

However, Mark Twain never said or took credit for that quip. What he actually wrote about was, "...the birds, and the flowers, and the winds, and the sunshine, and all things that go to make life happy, are present in San Francisco to-day, just as they are all days of the year... The multitude of pleasant things by which all people of San Francisco are surrounded are not talked of at all. The blasted winds and the infernal dust - these alone form the eternal topics of conversation."

What does this have to do with an academic health center, research and health care? In our quest to advance health through excellence, we sometimes forget to acknowledge, celebrate, and simply get to know all the people who make great things happen. Certainly in my short time here, I've met many wonderful, accomplished people who indeed are making great things happen in the School of Dentistry.

Do take the time to give your teammates the proper accolades they have earned and deserve. It organically ignites the extra effort and lets people feel they are making a difference. Genuine respect and recognition brings a greater sense of purpose and satisfaction. In today's high-tech, high-volume, high-speed world, few take the time to understand why one is successful and how one's fortunate outcomes are the direct reflection of the people around one.

Striving for excellence while at the same time dealing with uncertainty makes it even more important to take time to celebrate success. This goes beyond acknowledgment - this is about noticing the birds, flowers and the sunshine. It's about taking a step back and reflecting on the things you've accomplished, and the things you've learned throughout the journey.

The move to San Francisco has been spectacularly smooth. The people are talented and genuinely welcoming, the sun is shining and the beer is cold. Who could ask for more? Oh yes: There likely is someone I need to remember to thank.

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