Why care values and purpose as a physician? Ask the Samurai
Professional and Career Stability: What does it mean to you?
What keeps us from taking a career risk as leaders and business professionals? Often it’s a desire to maintain “stability”. As practicing physicians, we reasonably expected to set up a practice, build it over time, and derive a good income without a major interruption. For many physicians, the largest threat to that stability has been an erosion of income from administrative burdens and managed care.
What happens to your concept of stability, then, as you become a physician executive or business professional? Certainly, no health system is immune from executive changes, downsizing, restructuring, and mergers. Moreover, for physician leaders who aspire to grow professionally or reach new personal goals, a move out of your current organization is a given.
Because the fear of “instability” often keeps you from making the very moves that can vault you to the next great adventure, it is worthwhile contemplating what stability means for you. Here are some questions to help uncover your personal perspective.
- Describe a scenario of maximum stability (for you).
- Describe a scenario of minimally acceptable stability (for you).
- What are the essential features and elements of stability that are shared in each scenario?
- What do you “give up” when moving from the maximum to minimally acceptable scenario?
- What do you gain (how is it to your advantage) in accepting the minimal stability scenario (assuming it will be temporary)?
Francine R. Gaillour, MD, Business Consultant and Executive Coach for Healthcare Leaders firstname.lastname@example.org, (206) 686-4205
Professional Transition: Consider the Three Dimensions of Career Fulfillment
For physicians embarking on professional transition, a helpful model I have used with clients is the Three Dimensions of Career Fulfillment. Imagine three interlocking circles, each representing one of these three aspects:
- Economic Engine
When we were physicians early in training, our VISION-VALUES often included “service”, “achievement”, “learning”, and perhaps “spirituality”, among others. The SKILLS we developed in medical school and residency were on target for the specialty that we chose. And once we completed training, a healthy ECONOMIC ENGINE rewarded us for those skills. More than likely, all three dimensions were well aligned and we felt professionally fulfilled.
When physicians experience boredom, frustration or lack of professional fulfillment, it often means the VISION-VALUES circle has drifted away from the other two circles. The VISION-VALUES circle is no longer aligned with Skills and an Economic Engine. The reason for the “drifting away” often indicates that VISION-VALUES are not honored in your current professional environment; for example, strong VISION-VALUES may be around “personal growth”, “emotional health”, “family”, “creativity”, or “balance”.
For professional transition to be truly effective, and indeed transformational, it is imperative to clearly assess and acknowledge your core VISION-VALUES—what are your passions, talents, and inherent strengths? What gets you up in the morning? What do you enjoy more than anything in the world? From that center-point then, what NEW skills can your learn, what NEW economic engine can you develop, that will align with your core VISION-VALUES?
Your Core Values are inherent to you; because they are not always clear, your task during transition is to uncover or discover them.
Your SKILLS are learned; just like clinical skills, new skills can be acquired through school, training, or apprenticeships. In an optimal situation, your new skills are aligned with or complement VISION-VALUES.
Your Economic Engine is earned; your task is to research the possibilities in society for economically rewarding new skills.
A successful professional transition is a process more than a final destination. The process is one of becoming clearer about and committed to your core VISION-VALUES over time. Any number of professional paths might be the right avenue at a given point in your journey. If professional fulfillment is your goal, then your most important task is to evaluate choices in light of how they honor your personal VISION and VALUES.
Why Care About Values, Passion and Purpose? Ask the Samurai
This and previous newsletters covered the subject of transferable skills. As you inventory your learned skills, keep in mind that acknowledging and uncovering your core values, passion and purpose is equally if not more important in making your transition. Your “soul” inventory is what will power your transition and sustain it through the long haul.
In the words of the great Samurai Tesshu: “If your soul is not projected into your hands, even ten thousand techniques will be useless.”