“What heart surgeon did Diana date?”
According to data from a popular search trend analysis website, this is one of the most highly searched phrases about heart surgery.
According to Cosmopolitan, Princess Diana dated cardiac surgeon Hasnat Khan for years and called him “Mr. Wonderful.” Mehera Bonner did a lovely job discussing this topic.
Nonetheless, it left me to ponder the following: Why do we want to know who the Princess of Wales dated and what (generic) nickname she picked out?
Researchers estimate that anywhere from 65 to 80 percent of conversations are gossip. This habit likely evolved as a safety mechanism, fulfilling an “innate need to understand and predict people’s behavior.”
But can this need be fulfilled in other ways?
While learning to skydive, I went through the Accelerated Freefall Program. This consists of levels where competencies are demonstrated in the air. You downgrade from 2 instructors to one, and eventually, once deemed competent, you qualify for your A license. This means you can now jump out of an airplane by yourself!
During this process, I learned how to spot. The plane I was learning to jump from was a Cessna 182, which fit small groups of people. At altitude (roughly 13,000 feet), the airplane door opened, and we looked out. We noted where the landing area was and chose the correct exit point. This was the process of manual spotting.
I started jumping at other drop zones as I progressed in the sport. There, GPS was largely used for spotting, and there was less emphasis on manual spotting.
Still, having learned the manual process gave me better awareness. It made me a safer skydiver. It taught me to engage more attention and use more of my senses.
I started to notice this concept applied nearly everywhere. This involves measuring the “temperature in the room” instead of relying on what we are superficially told to expect. Pre-existing biases and expectations often skew our thoughts. We may not even notice them. We are on autopilot. Our GPS is on.
But what if we were to sharpen our senses? What if we were to bring our awareness back to the present moment?
Could we elevate our work environment and invite a more collaborative culture? Could we more intuitively sense what our patients and families need and meet them where they are? Could we be more powerful and influential leaders in our communities?
How would your life be different if you turned off the GPS and heightened your awareness?
Alexandra Kharazi is a cardiothoracic surgeon, mother to four-year-old Harper, and a passionate writer. She can be reached on her website, Alexandra Kharazi, MD, LinkedIn, Instagram, and TikTok. She is the author of The Heart of Fear: A Surgeon’s Collection of Stories on Adversity, Passion and Perseverance.