“The Punisher”

I recently met someone whom I will name “The Punisher” in my life right now. This person is pushing me beyond my perceived abilities. He says, “Ok. I know you can do that already, but can you do this?” He doesn’t care where I came from (and, in fact, he has not yet asked me anything at all about my past), only where I am going. He is forcing me to reveal goals that I didn’t want to utter out loud for fear of having to realize them. I call him “The Punisher” because the process of thinking outside of my usual pattern is painful, as is being forced to admit that I am not at my best right now. “Come on,” he says. “You can do better.” Everyone needs someone like this. (The movie, “Good Will Hunting” comes to mind).

We tend to surround ourselves with people who are complimentary and accept us for who we are and we easily dismiss those who criticize us. There are good reasons for this. But the person who is most likely to help you realize your true potential is often neither of these. Rather, it’s the person who says, “Stop your grumbling. Move forward.” I had an amazing band conductor, a great chemistry teacher, and a senior resident during medical training who did this.  These are unforgettable individuals who made an impact on my life not just by helping me improve my performance in the respective subjects, but by also reshaping my perception of what I can conquer in life.

Who is your “Punisher”? Who motivates you to improve yourself? It might have been your parents or a teacher when you were a child. Who is it now that you’ve grown into a stubborn adult? Have you ever had a doctor or a nurse who made you feel that way? It is important for us to feel we are loved for who we are and to not feel like we are being forced to be someone else. But it is also important to find and hold on to people who push you to realize that you are ever-evolving and have great potential. They might just know you better than you do yourself.

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