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A Piece of My Mind
September 6, 2016

Five People

Author Affiliations
  • 1Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts

Copyright 2016 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA. 2016;316(9):929-930. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.5091

I had just left an evening leadership lecture by a university professor at my daughter’s school. He stated it was the 200-something-th time he had given this discourse, but it was as authentic as the leaders’ stories that he shared. However, it was at the end of this inspiring hour that an offhand comment during the discussion caught my attention: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” He was quoting someone else; I keep meaning to Google who it was. Authorship was not as relevant as the concept, which somehow irked and motivated me at the same time. Engrossed in my thoughts, I walked through the stuttering rain on what was an absurdly warm February evening in Boston not understanding why that phrase had gotten under my skin. I sat in my car and the rain steadied, settling in for the night. As the windshield wipers cleared my view, my dilemma simultaneously surfaced.

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