Thinking about the Dash

I was originally going to write a review of one of the great books I’ve been reading lately and links to the TED talks to give you a gist on each: Dare to Lead by Brene Brown, Trust Factor by Paul Zak, The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. Each of these books is a little geeky (sort of like me) and provides insights into the results we achieve based on what we think and how we interact. 

I decided to change my focus after a recent visit from a friend that started me thinking about the dash. What do I mean when I write “thinking about the dash”? The dash is the line on a tombstone that represents a person’s life from their birth until their death. It’s about what mattered most in their life and their legacy.

Lisa and I have been friends for more than 15 years and most of those years she has been battling breast cancer. She came over last week to tell me that she is embarking on her final stage of her long battle with the disease. We knew this was eventually coming but the finality hit me hard. I admire so many things about my friend; her work ethic, her positivity, her always putting others first, her joy of life, her encouragement of me and her ability to laugh at herself. So many things I will miss.

This time in her life has heightened my thinking about how I want to be remembered. My “dash”. Yes, I would hope that people think my career in healthcare has had a positive impact. Being a scientist that works to bring novel life enhancing medicines to patients is way cool. And that I was in a small part responsible for helping to extend my friend’s life is truly amazing and satisfying. Also, helping women advance in their careers through mentoring and connecting is another big positive impact. 

But that doesn’t seem enough. There is so much more to life than career and getting ahead. I think what matter most are faith, family and friends. One of the things I love about the HBA are the friendships I’ve made through the organization. Yes, we work really hard to make our chapter and our region successful and provide meaningful impact for our members. But we also take time to get to know one another and support each other; to become friends.

What do you want your “dash” to include? When it’s all said and done, I hope that my “dash” includes she was a good friend.






Ruth Martin
programming COE president