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John Marvin

What New Lesson Did You Learn This Year?

How about learning the power of community and its importance to us as human beings?




“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

FOLLOWING A DAY of school, I often ask my grandchildren, “What did you learn today that you didn’t know this morning?” In fact, I try to ask myself this daily, weekly and monthly.

This past year has taught me several things, but the most surprising and impactful lesson I learned occurred at the funeral of my father and mother.

My parents passed away at the beginning of 2022 less than 30 minutes apart. My siblings and I decided that it would be appropriate to celebrate their life together in a double funeral. Both were in their 90s and they had been married for over 66 years. My father was a family physician and my mother ran his private practice as manager. No doubt, this is where my love and passion for independent practice was born.

Both stayed very active and engaged in helping people with their health up until the day they passed. They started a new health and wellness consulting business in their late 70s and traveled the globe helping people live more productive and healthy lives. Their legacy is thousands of people attending their funeral both physically and live streaming throughout the world. The outpouring of love my siblings and I received was humbling and completely unexpected.

The surprising lesson learned was the power of community and its importance to us as human beings.


Stop and consider your own life and career. How is it impacted by your community of colleagues, patients, employees and organizations? We are social beings. We need the support and compassion of other human beings. Our profession is not clinical and distant, but one of caring and compassion.

The pandemic isolated us. Government guidelines separated us, distanced us from one another. We were fearful of new relationships and reluctant to give of ourselves to others. But giving and caring for others is our purpose. Experienced, successful doctors know that it is not clinical expertise that builds a large patient-base, but rather communication, compassion and patience.

Our communities need our contribution. A doctor’s practice and their local community are codependent; sometimes the practice needs the community, and sometimes the community needs the practice. The most valuable rewards of private practice are not material, but the relationships—the people who turn to us when they are in need.

Neighborhoods and small and middle-sized towns throughout the U.S. include families that are hurting this season. Many organizations are in need of financial help and volunteers. I encourage you to select a way that you and your practice can contribute to your community and pour yourself into others selflessly.

Recently, for a course I am taking, an assignment was to write my own eulogy. This is an exercise I recommend. It will cause you to think about how you want others to consider your life. I realized through this exercise and the outpouring at my parents’ funeral, that more than remembering expertise, knowledge and technical skill, what lasts is the way we touched people’s hearts.

The holiday season is a time of reflection, renewal and giving. Find a way to make a difference with those in your community.


John D. Marvin has more than 25 years of experience in the ophthalmic and optometric practice industry. He is the president of Texas State Optical and writes about marketing, management and education at the blog. You can email him at


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