Relaxing into the evening. Sitting on the couch. Reading news and checking email. Surrounded by family.
My 6yo daughter excitedly asks me something about smurfs and mermaids. I snap.
“It’s time for bed. Go brush your teeth. I need time alone. And this place is a mess.”
Then I feel guilty.
Where does this come from? This knotted, angry bitterness. Was it the smurfs? It couldn’t be the mermaids. Could it?
You Aren’t A Dinosaur
This anxious anger is uncomfortable and familiar.
You sneer at ambulances as they arrive. You curse consults. You can’t believe they called a meeting to talk about this. There is no way you will do that. I mean, what were they thinking?
Your sneer, and curse, and disbelief cut others deeply. Your anger is viral. It amplifies and fragments.
But this is not who you are. You are not a dinosaur controlled by your prehistoric limbic system. You have a forebrain. You envision a higher purpose.
You want to help others. You want to make the world a better place. You are future-focused and positive.
Here are 5 basic things you can do to be a more effective and content physician leader.
1. Get Fuel.
Which is true?
“With a can of red bull you can change the world.”
“With a can of red bull you can stalk the halls like a reactive bitter sleepless crank-headed zombie spinning your wheels.”
Caffeine is good. But caffeine will not replace sleep, food, and fitness.
You know that being a tired, unfit, processed-food junkie is suboptimal. Are you suboptimal?
You need good sleep, a healthy diet, and exercise to fuel productivity and happiness. Do something about that.
2. Empty Your Brain.
Lists of things hijack your thoughts. Each item on your mental list is a disruptive kid poking you in the side asking: “How about now? how about now? how about now? then when?”
Empty your brain. Each task, each challenge, each decision. They need a place on a physical list outside your brain. Then you access it on your own time. When you decide.
When a task pops into your head, add it to your list.
Figure out what you want to do. Figure out what you need to do now. Look at your list. Make a plan. Do it.
Figure out what you don’t need to do. Don’t do that.
Some tasks are for others to do, give it to them. Some tasks don’t need to be done, cross them off.
4. Block Time.
Schedule blank appointments. Otherwise, your time will be filled by others. Block out time during the week where you do what you want to do.
This is the time where you can get work done. Use this time to read and think. Take time to re-energize and prioritize.
You may be a machine that runs on coffee and red bull. But you are also a machine that responds to a smile. And so are others.
Show appreciation and you will get it back. Write thank you notes. Compliment people in front of others. Smile.
A positive outlook takes work to cultivate. Be mindful of how you want to live. Do you want to inspire others?
Was it the mermaids?
I’d be happy to share whether it was the mermaids that contributed to my anger and bitterness.
Photo by Cathy Stanley-Erickson at Flickr.