Wise words from long ago.
Letter to Prince Frederic-William of Prussia (12th November 1770) – Voltaire
It is true that we don’t really know what a soul is: nobody has ever seen one. All we know is that the eternal master of nature has given us the ability to think and to know what is right. And while it’s never been proved that this ability lives on after our death, neither has it been disproved… Amidst such doubts, the wisest course is never to do anything against one’s conscience. With this secret we can enjoy life, and need fear nothing from death.
‘The ability to decide what is the best thing to do in a particular situation and to do it with energy and determination’ 1
I love the word gumption, it is devoid of connotations of jargon or management speak and is an example of the wonderful words we have gained from our old Scots heritage. 2
It also epitomises for me what RCGP exists for. It is all about us stepping up to take the initiative and coming together to make our profession the best it can be for our patients. Think of the College as a ‘gumption catalyst’.
In addition there has never been a time when gumption has been needed more in the NHS; the challenges of continuing to deliver care with increasingly complex systems, burgeoning demand from older and frailer patients and a shortage of doctors, staff and resources to deliver. On the other hand, we also have unprecedented opportunities; a new GP contract, the Integration of Health and Social Care and new models of care delivery with increasing recognition of the key role of GPs.
The College is also a ‘gumption magnet’ – anyone who has attended a Scottish Council meeting will be struck by the initiative, ability and drive of the group. The same can be said for our Faculties, Executive Board, P3, Membership Liaison Group and RCGP UK Council.
But gumption will not be enough on its own. We also need to have a sense of purpose and an environment that will nurture individual effort. That is where the College is fortunate to have the staff with the time and skills.
So if you want to connect with your inner gumption: – get in touch, get involved or just join the conversation!
First published in RCGP Scotland Chair’s message, December 2015