Observations Ethics Man

A passion for accuracy

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e4977 (Published 23 July 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e4977
  1. Daniel K Sokol, honorary senior lecturer in medical ethics and barrister at the Inner Temple
  1. daniel.sokol{at}talk21.com

A cursory glance at doctors and others at the peak of their profession reveals that attention to detail binds them all

When I was called to the bar, my father gave me a beautiful wooden box, within which were inscribed the words of Hardy Cross Dillard, once dean of the University of Virginia Law School and later a judge at the International Court of Justice in the Hague. The text described the perfect lawyer, and one sentence read, “He is endowed alike with legal imagination and a passion for accuracy.”

Even a cursory glance at people at the peak of their discipline reveals that a passion for accuracy, or attention to detail, binds them all. Although not enough to achieve success, it is a necessary component of it. The chess legend Gary Kasparov spent so much time analysing the games of his opponents before tournaments that a rumour emerged that he had a team of grandmasters conducting research on his behalf. Michael Jordan was known in his pre-National Basketball Association days for spending more time practising on the basketball court than any of his peers. The elite …

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