a Science to "Change"?
- Why do people do what
they do? In this issue of Daring Doctors, lets tease
apart the concept of motivation. I assume all of us
have areas in our lives we want to change, some small
and some as big as our career. It is also true that
most of us are crisis motivated. For the most part, we
don’t change anything unless the status quo becomes
intolerable. I invite you to explore the following
questions for yourself.
do I decide to stay in a particular job, location or relationship?
do I make the decision to move on, to create something new?
- This question is important in our
personal lives and also very important for leaders. I would define
all physicians as leaders. We lead care teams in the office, we have
the opportunity to lead our patients to better health and many of us
are in leadership positions in the non-clinical world. Here the
question is why do people follow you and listen to your advice?
- There are several theories we can use
to understand motivation.
The most popular is the “fear of the unknown” theory.
This is especially powerful for physicians. We spend an entire
career attempting to completely master our craft and eliminate
uncertainty. (After all, the malpractice lawyers are waiting for us
to make a mistake!)
- Making a change in
your life involves doing something new and admitting
you want to learn more…that you don’t “know it
all”. It can feel like stepping off a cliff.
has been your experience of the first steps of a change in your
have you learned about how you view change and what attitudes and
fears get in the way?
- My experience of my physician
colleagues and clients is we are all intelligent, hard working
people committed to making a difference. We are masters at critical
thinking (diagnosis) and communication skills. We are all hard wired
with the essential toolkit for successful change. The stopper is
Another theory is “inertia”.
My routine is well known and I can
accomplish what is expected with minimal effort. It
might not be fulfilling, yet it doesn’t take the effort of
learning something new. This
comes out in the thought, “Changing careers would be so difficult,
why don’t I just stay put.”
are your thoughts on the effort involved in making a life or career
- My observation is
that NOTHING could be more difficult than the
experience of Medical School followed by residency
followed by a good stint as a practicing
physician. All of us have been there and done
that. Simply because we are physicians we are
capable of tremendous and prolonged effort if we
think it’s worth it.
- Inertia comes in two common flavors:
- The “you worked
so hard to get here” flavor. Usually, family
members voice this as you discuss your initial
thoughts of doing something outside of clinical
medicine. (What will your mother say?)
- How does the effort to become a
successful physician hold you back when you contemplate a different
- Certainly we all worked our tails off
to become physicians. We could choose to see it as an indication of
the effort we are capable of when we decide to move rather than an
anchor that holds us back.
- And the flavor
If I have enough, I am much less likely to
go for more. Most of us make enough money, have
enough time and are engaged enough at work. We are
comfortable enough that fear hasn’t pushed us
look for more. Is
it possible to get too much out of your life?
What is enough in your life?
What would you like more of?
Then there’s the most powerful motivator of all, the “no
compelling vision” theory. We stay put because the change
options we envision are not attractive enough.
We are not inspired to do anything
different. For most of us, our vision of the future is not nearly as
clear as our appreciation of our current discomfort.
is your vision of the change you want in your life?
can you make it big enough to be inspiring?
your pulse quicken as you imagine yourself 5 years from now?
- Of all the fuels for motivating
change, inspiration is the cleanest and most powerful. Once you
create a vision of your future that is sufficiently inspiring you
will be drawn to it with such attraction that fear and inertia are
naturally overcome. There is a major difference between being drawn
by the power of inspiration and pushing through obstacles by sheer
- As leaders, once we create a vision
for our team or business that is big enough to inspire, the efforts
of our followers will be self-generating.
- How can you use these principles
of attraction and inspiration in your own change process?
- It starts with a compelling vision. It
starts with a question that is big enough, big enough that its
answer is powerfully attractive.
- I talk to many
doctors who ask, “What should I do to make a
living outside of medicine?”
I believe this question is too small.
Most of us have found that our medical careers
defined our life. We are looking for a more
fulfilling life and found medicine got in the
- I suggest the BIGGER QUESTION to ask,
the question that will lead to an inspiring answer, is;
do I want my LIFE to look and feel like 5
years from now?”
- Take some time
to contemplate this vision of your LIFE in
your future. Envision a life that gives you
everything you have always dreamed of; total
fulfillment…whatever that means to you. Don’t
be surprised if dreams you had in college or
earlier come rushing in. You may wish to close
your eyes and envision it, really feel it.
- Then write it all down. What are you
doing? Where do you live? What are your friends like, your pets,
your diet, your clothes??? What does this life feel like?
- If any little
voices of guilt or “that won’t happen”
come in, let them pass and keep on until you
have a crystal clear, whole-body sense of what
your future will be like.
- The NEXT question you may choose to
job do I have that supports this life?”
- You may wish to flesh this vision out
|What am I doing?
||What talents and
skills am I using?
|How much am I
||How many hours a
week, months a year?
|Who am I
||The people, the
staff, the technology?
am I making?
||To my vocation, my
clients, my family, myself?
|How much money do
||Per month, per year?
|Where am I?
||In the country, in
does this “job” feel like and how
does it support my vision of my life?
- You may find the
answers to these bigger questions don’t
leave you with a job description you can find
in the classifieds. This is a good thing!
Stepping in to something new takes a little
bit of the entrepreneurial spirit. You can
create an “Ideal Job Description” and use
it to evaluate available job opportunities or
even step fully in to your entrepreneur shoes
and create your own vocation.
- Creating a
compelling vision doesn’t guarantee that
fear, inertia and enoughness won’t sneak
through to put on the brakes from time to
time. You will have a much greater chance of
unqualified success and a much more pleasant
change experience when your vision is big
enough to pull you forward. You can harness
the power of attraction to power you onward.
Ask the bigger question and play the bigger
game to create a future so attractive it
- As a leader, the ability to create an
attractive and empowering vision for your team is crucial. Your
ability to communicate the big inspiring picture is a defining skill
of a great leader. It is the spark that generates buy-in and maximal
effort from your teammates. Without it, your team is probably
motivated by fear, inertia and enoughness. That is a difficult thing
to admit and a recipe for mediocre performance.
- When we are able to frame our goals in
this larger context and set a target that is truly worthy, the
change process begins. Given the differences between where you are
and the future you imagine, movement happens.
- So, what would
you like to change in your life right now?
What future can you envision that is so
attractive for you or your team that you can’t
wait to get started? How can taking on the
role of a visionary provide motivation to your
life and your business? I encourage you to
start building your vision today. The world is
Dike Drummond, MD,
Executive Coach for Healthcare Leaders firstname.lastname@example.org,