Dr. Sanjay Gupta Shares Life Lessons

Passion, sense of purpose and compassion are three qualities government leaders should possess.

by / October 25, 2012

Sacramento, Calif.— CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a practicing neurosurgeon, kickstarted the Sacramento Speaker Series on Tuesday, Oct. 23.

Last year, Forbes named Gupta one of the 10 most influential celebrities, and he's received many accolades, including the 2003 Humanitarian Award from the National Press Photographers Association. As a CNN correspondent, he's covered such topics as military physicians, and disasters like the Deep Horizon Oil Spill, Hurricane Katrina, the Sri Lankan tsunami, and the Haiti earthquake, to name a few. 

During his lecture at the Sacramento Community Center, Gupta fielded questions about passing up the opportunity to become surgeon general, the state of the LiveStrong Foundation surrounding the recent Lance Armstrong scandal, as well as his book Monday Mornings being turned into a medical drama TV series by David Kelley.

But what can government employees learn from his lecture? Plenty, it turns out. Here are three takeaways from the night’s event.

  • Passion: Are people born with passion or does it change with age and time? Gupta merged his passion for medicine and media because he’s a lifelong learner who didn’t want his brain to wither away. He wanted to exercise his brain and utilize both the right side (creative and expressive) and the left side (analytical and logical) — he likes toggling back and forth between each. What are you passionate about?
  • A Sense of Purpose: In an interview with centurions, they said that living long can be attributed to having a sense of purpose. What’s your purpose? Find one; it just might extend your life.
  • Compassion: “I believe that people are inherently compassionate,” said Gupta as he retold a story of a woman and a little boy who lost their home in a disaster. The little boy had offered Gupta crackers, although he and his mom had lost everything, proving that people are “hardwired to be altruistic.” How can you give back?
Karen Stewartson

Karen Stewartson served as the managing editor of Government Technology for many years. She also contributed to Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines.