A Lesson Learned From the Late Dr. DeBakey: The Greatest Innovators Should Expect the Most Ridicule

As you probably know, the “renegade” Physician, pioneer, and father of open-heart surgery was the late Dr. Michael DeBakey. His innovations saved many lives, and his legacy should motivate us to want to help others, and wanting to cause real disruption to improve the “Standard of Care.” Along his pathway, Dr. DeBakey encountered naysayers, both Physicians, and bureaucrats, who found comfort in the old “Standard of Care.” Dr. DeBakey’s pathway teaches us that innovators making the greatest “disruptions” should also expect the greatest roadblocks and ridicule.

Something ironic: Dr. DeBakey’s naysayers included competing Physicians and bureaucrats, as expected, yet it was his colleagues in his specialty, who hindered his improvements in the field the most with their “Napolean-like” egos.”

Meanwhile, he received ridicule while the “experts” who remained complacent in their “old ways” prospered without ridicule. It’s reminiscent of the persecution directed against the first physicians challenging bloodletting. Bloodletting was the “Standard of Care” for over 2,500 years, purportedly ridding the body of “evil humors.” Therefore, challengers against bloodletting also faced great persecution and an uphill battle, because of its 2,500-year history of being the “Standard of Care” until innovators like you challenged early “bloodletting experts.”

Like Dr. DeBakey, do you take risks with your innovations to help mankind?

Are you willing to persevere for something greater, in spite of ridicule and even failure? Dr. DeBakey failed many times, and his failures were occasionally fatal. But they didn’t stop him from crossing the finish line. He assumed risks others weren’t willing to take, facing rejection and even ridicule. His willingness to take risks, and change the “Standard of Care” caused his innovations to change the world, by saving millions of lives.

I think his remarkable life should inspire each of us to ask: “Are we playing to our genius with the ideas we believe in, and taking risks in spite of pushback, to change lives for the better?

You’re an innovator in Regenerative Medicine; whether you’re a Ph.D., Nurse, Physician, Biotech Expert, or Business Leader, and you play an important role in making a mark on the World.

I ask you a question I ask myself often: Like Dr. Debakey, are you using your gifts and talents to make significant contributions to improve the world we serve?

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