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What can “The invisible child” teach us about leadership?


On the first day of medical school one of the main teachers read the short story “The Invisible Child” by Tove Jansson out loud. It is still one of my strongest memories from almost six years of university studies to become a doctor and I guess the one single book of all literature during my medical education that has affected me the most. But then I also become a psychiatrist and maybe “The Cell” or other important medical literature has inspired other colleagues who chose other specialties more.

Anyway, the story is about Ninny, an invisible child due to that her caretaker has mistreated her, that comes to the Moomin family. The Moomins welcomes Ninny with open arms giving her clothes, a warm bed, food, and love. Ninny becomes more and more visible. However, it is not only the warmth of the Moomin mother and the friendship of the Moomin troll that makes her increasingly visible but also that little My teaches her the importance of being angry. In short, the story tells us about the importance of different stimulus to become whole and the teacher who read the story said to keep that in mind during med school to become complete as doctors. That we would learn from different things, and not only the way we thought, and sometimes the thing we will need the most in our development might come from a different direction then we think.

Artist and writer Tove Jansson in 1956. Image by Wikimedia Commons.
Artist and writer Tove Jansson in 1956. Image by Wikimedia Commons.

So, why am I writing about this story when the Nordic Psychiatrist has the theme leadership? Well, maybe because when I heard about the topic, I was told about various aspects of leadership that might be enlightened. It made me think about the story once again. About the different sides of good leaders, I´ve had. About the military leadership training of development of group and leaders that I once took place in and which had an emphasis about the importance of a changing leadership depending on how well the group new each other for the best development as a group. And I thought about the story because it is a celebration to equality and respect. The best base for a good leadership.

Thus, if you have 20 minutes or so and need warm inspiration in your leadership or maybe just to develop as a doctor my best book tips this autumn is “The Invisible Child”. It had made a major impact on my development and still do. □


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