Every day is a new adventure. We are faced with expectations and tasks, but always with the possibility of unexpected circumstances that can derail the best laid plans. There are day-to-day processes that function on autopilot, which saves energy and allows for efficient work. When obstacles arise, we can perceive these as a nuisance or opportunities for learning and growth. Whether it be a challenging situation, or a beautiful sunset, moments are defined by that which captures your attention. The question is, what is worthy of your conscious mind?
Barriers will always arise. I remember my medical school professor, Andrew Pecora, D.O. saying that the work of being a doctor is in the thinking beyond that which is comfortable. This is not true just of practicing medicine. I have worked on construction sites where the automation of the daily project could be sabotaged by an unexpected challenge. The best artisans would anticipate problems and seamlessly find solutions. I have seen our best surgeons do the same. When we expect things to go smoothly we limit our creativity and prevent ourselves from being the best we can be. Leaving enough space to deal with each potential stumbling block in a curious and engaged way is what allows for growth.
Setting your values makes indecision disappear. When planning ahead it is important to leave enough space to deal with potential stumbling blocks as they arise. The inability to take on your responsibility and own the issue, versus delegating, versus ignoring that which is outside of your goals is what I most often see blocking my co-workers from finding the joy in the work. Without a clear picture of what is most valuable to you, decisions will be overwhelmingly complex. Setting the sail in the direction that you want to go makes the decision to steer around impediments and regain your course an easy one. As Greg McKeown says, “make the one decision that makes a thousand.” Knowing the overarching goal and setting your sights can be a process that requires in depth introspection and the insight of trusted peers and leaders.
Caring for people is our primary concern. In order to achieve that end with the satisfying moments of direct patient care our entire enterprise must prioritize the same. Whether you are a biller submitting the claims and collecting the money, or a manager organizing operations, or a custodian disinfecting the offices and exam rooms, that ultimate purpose is carried out because of what you do. In your job is the key to the joy of service to others. If you are faced with a wavering sense of what is most important consider speaking to your manager to better understand how to get the most effective and important things done. If you are a leader yourself, charged with setting the course, consider leaning on others with similar roles to brainstorm and work through a usable strategy.
You matter. Regardless of your job you are a person first and foremost. Your family, friends, and coworkers need you to prioritize your health. No matter the objective, if your health fails, you fail. Prioritize the time to enrich yourself through proper sleep, nutrition, exercise, and leisure. Human beings are creative and inspiring creatures when our health is optimized and we leave enough time to just be. Our world is so focused on performance and efficiency that we skip meals, deprive ourselves of sleep, forget family obligations, and put ourselves last in line. That is a mistake. In order to accomplish anything worthwhile, and revel in success, you will need to persevere and show grit, but you will also want to be in good health and surrounded by people you care about to share in the happiness of achievement. Map out your time. Be realistic. Set priorities. Then execute. When obstacles arise meet them head on and ask yourself, does this serve my purpose? Having a clear vision of your values will allow you to seamlessly decide whether to delegate, ignore, or engage your attention and energy.
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