You are in this profession as a calling, not a business; as a calling which exacts from you at every turn self-sacrifice, devotion, love and tenderness to your fellow-men. Once you get down to a purely business level, your influence is gone and the true light of your life is dimmed. You must work in the missionary spirit, with a breadth of charity that raises you far above the petty jealousies of life.
The young doctor should look about early for an avocation, a pastime, that will take him away from patients, pills, and potions . . . No [person] is really happy or safe without one, and it makes precious little difference what the outside interest may be – botany, beetles or butterflies, roses, tulips, or irises, fishing mountaineering or antiquities – anything will do so long as he straddles a hobby and rides it hard.
But do not get too deeply absorbed [in your work] to the exclusion of all outside interests. Success in life depends as much upon the [person] as on the physician. Mix with your fellow students, mingle with their sports and their pleasures. … You are to be members of a polite as well as of a liberal profession and the more you see of life outside the narrow circle of your work the better equipped you will be for the struggle.
Children are one’s greatest happiness, but often & often a still greater misery. A man of science ought to have none, — perhaps not a wife; for then there would be nothing in this wide world worth caring for & a man might (whether he would is another question) work away like a Trojan.
It seems that for success in science or art a dash of autism is essential. For success the necessary ingredients may be an ability to turn away from the everyday world, from the simple practical, an ability to rethink a subject with originality so as to create in new untrodden ways, with all abilities canalised into the one speciality.
The general advice I give to young people is to follow their passion. That’s a pretty common answer to a question like this, but I really do think people do their best work when they are doing something they really care about and have a genuine interest in. I think of computing and the analytical mindset that it provides as being useful in pursuing a number of career paths.
The advice I give to my students when they are considering making a job decision is to go to the place where they think they will learn the most and make the biggest difference (in a broad sense). A career isn’t just defined by one’s first job, but is really about the kind of impact someone can have in the long term. Finding opportunities to learn as much as possible along the journey helps to create more opportunities for greater impact in the future. Especially given the pace at which computing evolves, it’s important to have a real commitment to life-long learning in this field.