Tempus Fugit

My Take Tuesday: Tempus Fugit

This past week marked 14 years since my graduation from veterinary school. I can’t believe how fast time has flown by!

Over the course of the past fourteen years, I have had many accomplishments that I am proud of. It has been a most remarkable journey.

It seems like just last week when I was saying farewell to some of my dearest friends and colleagues. Members of my class have traveled all over the world and have already left an impressive mark on the field of veterinary medicine. Many have completed residences and internships.

Some are private practitioners. Some are clinical pathologists, oncologists, zoo veterinarians, surgeons, cow calf specialists, internal medicine and equine specialists, mixed animal practice owners, epidemiologists, FDA oversight veterinarians and USDA food supply veterinarians. I am fortunate to have spent my veterinary school years surrounded by such exceptional people.

Looking back at my journey, I could not have dreamed of the adventures and opportunities that awaited me in my first decade of veterinary practice. It has been an exhilarating ride. I have been knocked down several times during this journey. With each failure, I have tried to get back up, dust myself off and move forward. Hard time times have come before, and they are bound to come again. When they come, I grit my teeth, bow my head and ride straight into the wind. Each struggle has been followed by myriads of opportunities. One cannot fully appreciate the highs of life without experiencing the lows. As Ernest Hemingway aptly observed, “Night is always darker before the dawn and life is the same, the hard times will pass, everything will get better, and sun will shine brighter than ever.”

Timing and chance have tremendous bearing on each of our lives and careers. I have had successes and experiences that were not in my wildest dreams when I graduated. I have performed veterinary work in 8 countries, 27 US states, performed reproductive work on 39 different species, performed over 70,000 small animal examinations and have helped build a successful private veterinary practice. I have also published 10 scientific papers and just recently authored my first textbook chapter.

I cannot think of a profession that is more rewarding. I have had the opportunity to travel to many faraway places to share some of the successes I have had with today’s veterinary students. I very much enjoy the opportunity to do this. I always encourage students to be different and to follow their hearts. My advice to them is to always seek self-discovery and self-improvement. There is very little satisfaction when comparing oneself to others. So much time is wasted when trying to be better than someone else. The true test of success is measured when looking at your own improvement and progress. Are you better than you used to be? If you focus on being your best-self your potential is unlimited. When using others as a comparison, there will always be someone bigger, better or stronger.

Each of us are unique. Look at your thumb. Your thumbprint is a testament to your uniqueness. Your individual thumbprint is different than any of the billions of individuals that are alive today. No one ever has, or ever will have the same thumbprint. Your identity is as unique as your thumbprint. Your perspective and personality are not shared by any other person. These traits are arrows in our quiver of individual contribution. Why is it so difficult to acknowledge this? Self-awareness is the key to harnessing and honing this uniqueness in an effective fashion. As we become self-aware, we are able to visualize, assess, nock, draw back and place a precise arrow in the bullseye of our desired target.

Thank you to my many mentors who have guided me and made me what I am today.

I look forward with optimism at the journey ahead. I have found my passion. I love what I do.

And that is my take!
N. Isaac Bott, DVM

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