I’ve found them, thanks to the writers, of all things, Grey’s Anatomy. Ah, now that I’ve looked up the episode, “I will Survive,” and discovered that it was written by Shonda Rhimes, I’m less surprised.
I wrote the sentence on the back of the first bit of paper I could find, a yellow bank slip. Owen Hunt said it, speaking to Cristina Yang, his wife and colleague. In charge of choosing chief resident, he told her that she wasn’t in the running because, though an excellent surgeon, she broke rules and was lousy at paperwork. Furthermore, he said, as steam was coming out of her ears, despite ambition which was pushing her to fight for the post at all cost, she would hate it because it would take her away from surgery, which she loved. Then he said the words written for his character by Rhimes:
“Be excellent at what you are.”