We are successful physicians and yet we look around and see highly motivated, intelligent colleagues flailing. They have gifted hands and superior intelligence. Yet, they get in their own way.
You are smart. You are confident. You have ambitious ideas that will change the world. This got you into medical school.
You are resilient with unquestionable endurance. You’re assertive in doing what is right. You accomplish. This got you into residency.
So how can a smart, resilient, confident, accomplished physician not be successful. What are they missing?
Physicians will not achieve their highest potential for success if they lack the following 3 key traits. Successful physicians have these traits.
Responsible physicians own their actions and mistakes. Their first thought isn’t to look outside themselves for reasons for failure. They ask “what did I miss?” and “what can I do better?”
A physician who lacks responsibility doesn’t learn from mistakes. They are reluctant to accept criticism or advice. They hesitate to apologize for mistakes because dammit, it’s not their fault.
This doesn’t mean that a physician with a high degree of responsibility is a pushover of self-blame. They may very well reject or become defensive when they first hear criticism, however, they will internalize it. They will reflect. They will correct.
The composed physician is able to control their emotions and behavior during times of stress. This physician doesn’t get rattled easily. They are the reliable stabilizers during crisis.
Now think of the disruptive physician with a low level of composure. They are short-fused, reactive and needy. Their voice gets louder, they stand more aggressive, their sphincters tighten. They respond to stress by elevating the stress. They are tunnel-visioned problem solvers as they lose perspective and use emotional over objective reasoning.
The successful physician doesn’t have to have a Spock-like separation from emotions. They diffuse the energy of the moment to focus and effect. They worry less and recover faster from disappointment.
There was a cartoon character named Glum. He was unhappy and pessimistic.
Glum: “We’ll never make it.”
Glum’s friend: “Be positive Glum.”
Glum: “I’m positive we’ll never make it.”
Physicians who are low in contentment are disenchanted, unhappy, and feel trapped in circumstances in which they believe they have no control. They are pessimists and blame others. A negative light shines on their life (and the lives of those around them).
Successful physicians are happy. They are satisfied with themselves and the majority of circumstances in their life. They take problems in stride with a positive outlook towards the future.
This doesn’t mean success requires dumb happiness. There is no requirement to be a creepily smiling stepford doctor operating unquestionably in the hive. Successful doctors take discontent and burn it as a fuel towards contentment.
When you are hiring a physician. When you are forming a board or an executive team. When you look to areas where you can improve. First look towards responsibility, composure, and contentment.
This is the key for your success and the key for the success of your organization.