thank you, Venus!

Has anyone else noticed how so many people are off-kilter these days? Yes, I come across a bunch of interesting people every day, but really, things are out of whack lately.

So perhaps we will get help.

Yes, we really need help with perspective. And the Transit of Venus just might be the ticket.

Sul Ah Chim, a researcher at the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute in the central South Korean city of Daejon, said he hoped the event will help people see life from a larger perspective and “not get caught up in their small, everyday problems.”

“Most people consider 105 years to be a very long time,” Sul said. “But when you think about it from the context of the universe, 105 years is a very short period of time, and the Earth is only a small, pale blue spot.”

And then you read this commencement speech by Atul Gawande at Williams College last Sunday, where he proves that people are able to learn most effectively by taking their egos out of the equation.

Scientists have given a new name to the deaths that occur in surgery after something goes wrong—whether it is an infection or some bizarre twist of the stomach. They call them a “failure to rescue.” More than anything, this is what distinguished the great from the mediocre. They didn’t fail less. They rescued more.

This may in fact be the real story of human and societal improvement. We talk a lot about “risk management”—a nice hygienic phrase. But in the end, risk is necessary. Things can and will go wrong. Yet some have a better capacity to prepare for the possibility, to limit the damage, and to sometimes even retrieve success from failure…

But the only failure is the failure to rescue something. I took away ideas and experiences and relationships with people that profoundly changed what I was able to do when I finally found the place that was for me, which was in medicine.

So you will take risks, and you will have failures. But it’s what happens afterward that is defining. A failure often does not have to be a failure at all. However, you have to be ready for it—will you admit when things go wrong? Will you take steps to set them right?—because the difference between triumph and defeat, you’ll find, isn’t about willingness to take risks. It’s about mastery of rescue.

And that, my friends, would be a giant leap for all of us.


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