Yesterday at Legal Tech in New York I was able to hear Malcolm Gladwell speak alongside of Dr. Lisa Sanders. While I loved listening to Gladwell- one of my heroes- I was most impacted by a story told by Dr. Sanders, the great mind behind the TV show House MD. The story she told holds the key to helping lawyers, business people, and really anybody to change the world.
A young 24-year-old woman walked into an emergency room complaining she wasn’t feeling well. Truth be told, she wasn’t looking well. Her skin was an unnatural yellow in color- and it was clear that she had Lyme disease among other things. Four days before she had awoken not feeling so hot, and had stayed in bed for a few days. After looking into the mirror and seeing her skin had taken on a disturbing yellow tone- she went into the hospital. If she had waited another day or two, she wouldn’t have made it.
The hospital had no idea what to do, so they ordered a full battery of tests on this young lady. Dr. Sanders referred to this as similar to shooting her in the face with a shotgun to diagnose her illness. 48 hours later, after every test imaginable and 20 pages in reports had been created, the hospital had was no further along. They had no clue what to do next. They did know one thing with certainty however, this woman was dying.
One of the doctors decided to do what any responsible doctor would do, they called the smartest doctor they knew and asked for his advice. This doctor came in, examined the patient, read the 20 pages of tests, and was completely stumped. This new doctor had no idea what was wrong with this poor woman. Then he did something that none of the other doctors had done. He sat quietly in his office and just thought about it. He let the ideas percolate and waited for his subconscious mind to answer a question that had left dozens of doctors stumped.
A light went on in his head. A quick search of the internet, and he confirmed his suspicion. Wilson’s Disease, a rare but highly treatable illness. The only treatment was a liver transplant. The woman was rushed to surgery, received the transplant, and her life was saved.
So how does this story help you? There are many possible messages to this story, but there are a couple that stand out to me. First, you can’t always do everything yourself. Know your limitations. If the first doctor hadn’t been humble enough to ask for help, this girl would have most likely died.
Second, our intuition is incredibly powerful. I just finished reading the book Think and Grow Rich and although the book is almost 80-years-old, it has some similar messages to the story Dr. Sanders told. The book calls our intuition “infinite intelligence.” We all have this infinite intelligence at our disposal, but we can’t use it if we underestimate its power. The real value of the story Dr. Sanders told, and the book Think and Grow Rich is in reminding us to put our intuition to work for us.
Michael Jordon was cut from his high school basketball team, Abraham Lincoln lost his first election, and Thomas Edison failed thousands of times before really understanding the power of intuition. All of these men eventually tapped into the infinite power of their intuition- and achieved miraculous results. You can too, but the question you need to answer first is this: how do you want to change the world? Decide that, and you can let your intuition get to work.
At Legal Tech in New York the keynote speakers this year could have covered any technology imaginable in their speech. The fact that both of them were most fascinated by the power of the human brain goes to show us that our minds continue to be the most innovative gadget of all.