No hero without problem
I recently read a small story about Bian Que, who was one of the most well-known physicians in Chinese history, according to the legend. I’ve read various stories about him, but this one was new to me, and I felt related.
One day, Bian Que met Lord Wei, at the state of Wei, and the converstation went like this.
Lord Wei asked: “I have heard that you have two elder brothers, and they also have excellent medical skills. Who, among you three, is the best?”
“My eldest brother is the best, my second elder brother is the second best, and I am the worst among us.”
“But how come you are the best known and people don’t know about your brothers?”
“My eldest brother cures people before they even know they are ill. Therefore, no one knows about the great things he has done, except the members in our family who are well-versed in the trade. My second elder brother cures people when illness just started, before the disease had a chance to spread out. Therefore, people think that he can only cure very simple illness. I am lousy, I can only figure that people are sick when the disease has already progressed to a later stage. At this stage, it is very complicated, and I have to make use of all tools and medicine at my disposal. People thought I am the best and that I can cure the worst kind of diseases, because it looks complicated.”
There is no hero in peace time, we see heroes only after the war or catastrophe broke out. This is true over two thousand years ago, it is true now. It is true in the medical field, certainly true in the IT domain and others. The best people have done great things to make the system run smoothly and to prevent problems, but they do not get due credit. We notice them only when bad things happened. Is that why everyone is striving to have their 15 seconds of fame?