David Viscott, MD, was an extremely talented psychiatrist who not only operated a successful LA psych practice in the 1980’s and 90’s but also found time to host a radio show.  I listened to him whenever I could, spoke to him on a few precious occasions, and soaked up as much of his interviewing skills as it was possible.  It's fair to say he was one of my esteemed mentors.  

In one of his seminars David (as he insisted everyone call him) passed out sticky labels and asked everyone come in the next morning with this sentence completed and written on the label: “My success depends upon…” 

I racked my brain. This was about 25 years ago. I was still young enough to think I could make a difference and old enough to think I had all the answers. All I could come up with was: “My success depends upon paying attention.” 

Oh, boy. Somehow I had hit a mother lode. I can’t even begin to count the number of times since then that not paying attention has jumped up to bite me.. And every time that happened I thought of that silly sentence. 

As the years went by I struggled to internalize those few words and incorporate them into my way of doing things. The occasions when I have failed to pay attention have thankfully become fewer and fewer. 

David Viscott passed away in 1996, at age 58.  I still miss his wise counsel.

What started me thinking about this was a comment from a patient not long ago that she liked how much of a meticulous perfectionist I seemed to be. I thanked her, rolled my eyes (to myself, of course), and thought one more time of David and about paying attention. 

What does your success depend upon?

Gotta go... 

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  • Randal says...

    I listened while driving between work and library or wherever, always found David brilliant, engaging, insightful inspiring and etc. a truly genuine loving human being whose book is not closed as he continues to help people thru the legacy of his writtings

    On November 05, 2019

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