Celebrating Failure with Dr. Venkat Narayan
19 min

K.M. Venkat Narayan, MD, is the Ruth and OC Huber Chair of Global Health and Epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health, the Director of Emory Global Diabetes Research Center, and a professor of medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine. He is the former chief of the diabetes, epidemiology, and statistics branch at the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention. With over 500 publications, Dr. Narayan is noted for substantial multidisciplinary work in diabetes and noncommunicable diseases. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the American Diabetes Association’s Kelly West Award, the Danish Diabetes Academy Visiting Professor Award, and Emory University’s Mentor of the Year Award.

How do we really define success? According to Dr. K.M. Venkat Narayan, it is the ability to do what we are really interested in—and doing it well. Today, Dr. Narayan teaches us how we can best allocate our time to preserve mental energy, and to still feel accomplished in our work. We learn why it is imperative to think outside our areas of research alone. Studies in philosophy and literature became surprising aids to Dr. Narayan in his career, so he urges us to remember to think broadly, and to be creative thinkers in our work. He also reminds us to celebrate failure. Because if you haven’t failed, you haven’t tried.

Pearls of Wisdom:

1. Remember that breadth is just as important as depth. Develop an intellectual curiosity and have the mindset of thinking broadly. Many of the advances in medicine have come from observations outside of medicine. 2. Devote 1-2 hours on the most critical work of your day. Spend your most alert hours on those projects that are most significant in your life. 3. Celebrate failure. Remember that if you have not failed, you have not tried. Rather than being sad about failures, celebrate them and move forward.

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