Orchestral conductor Benjamin Zander uses “shining eyes” as a way to tell if his musicians are reaching their potential. He says, “If the eyes are not shining, you get to ask a question…Who am I being that my players’ eyes are not shining?“
This is a useful tool for leaders, and perhaps even more so as a tool for self-reflection; Who am I being, that my eyes are not shining?
Of course, 95% of the time we can’t see our own eyes, but I think most people have a sense of what having shining eyes feels like. Personally, I feel my eyes shine most when I engage in creative tasks and when I get to solve problems. I often felt it when I worked at the museum. And I felt it when I was working in street medicine.
Nowadays in medical school it can feel like most of the time my eyes are dulled and I’m just going through the motions. Especially with the culture in academia being the way it is. I get a twinkle every now and then, but I’ve learned to suppress it because God forbid I openly expresses any sign of satisfaction with learning; that just makes me a gunner and a kiss-ass.
I’m trying to find my way back though. I’m trying to tune out the voices that say I need to study in a certain way to be successful or that studying should be miserable.
I’m gonna find ways to reconnect me to my work and make them eyes shine.