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Esse quam videri. That's the Latin inscription on my high school ring now buried somewhere in the bottom of a jewelry box. Yes, I was one of those studious types who decided that a little Latin might eventually come in handy during nursing school. I don't remember much of the language today, but I vividly recall my teacher's translation of those words: "To be and not to seem like."
I'm not sure of the phrase's origins, but if I had to sum up the secret to success in 10 words or less, this would be my hands-down choice. It's an expression that transcends generations, cultures, and all manner of personal and professional pursuits. To me, it denotes authenticity, integrity and commitment in any endeavor or life journey. Unfortunately, it also represents the road less traveled.
When you truly commit "to be" something, you elect to go the genuine, valid route with all of the requisite time, effort, expense, and quality control necessary. There's no easy ride here, but the destination is solid and can weather a storm. Choosing "to seem like" is like selecting a cheap imitation or counterfeit copy over the real thing. When just "to seem like" satisfies the status quo in a particular situation, the path might seem easy for a time, but bumps in the road ultimately shake and break whatever weak foundation was pieced together. There's little stability and no lasting value.
Taken to heart, living esse quam videri means setting a goal and achieving it legitimately without cutting corners or erecting facades that hide the truth. It's committing to creating a product, a system, or a knowledge and skill base in an individual or group that can stand alone without the need for embellishment to cover flaws. It's also steering clear of the temptation to declare that some attribute meets or exceeds a particular standard when it doesn't-even though such an honest appraisal might invite criticism and generate the need for more work.
We have many opportunities both personally and professionally to make the world a better place. Examine your choices carefully...and commit "to be" that which you'd want to own.
Until next time-
Linda Laskowski-Jones, MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM
Editor-in-Chief, Nursing2011 Vice President, Emergency, Trauma, and Aeromedical Services Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.
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