It is always fun thinking about that first newsletter of the year – seeking to find something both uplifting and in keeping with the fresh start that a new year promises. I chose the theme of adventures, mainly because I believe that most of us are thrilled, stimulated and challenged by the possibilities a true adventure offers.
Which adventures do you want to sign up for this year?
Your first triathlon?
Going back to school for an MBA?
Taking an African safari?
I love the end-of-year “check in” with my current clients. First, we reflect on the closing year – the wins, the challenges, and that for which they are grateful. Then I ask them to share their dreams for the upcoming year – what shapes do they wish to create from the clay of the 12 months ahead?
I particularly enjoy having a client step back to see what he or she is accomplishing – where they have gotten to, compared to the prior December. There’s a short, powerful moment in which they glimpse the magnificent, well-intentioned human beings they truly are.
This year, I spent time thinking about each client, to determine what his or her particular upcoming adventure for 2007 looked like, and I was fascinated by the assortment I came up with. These are not conventional physical challenges or expeditions. Instead, these are deeply personal inner exploits.
This exercise prompted me to use their quests as examples to propose a Top Ten list of adventures you could choose to take on. The goal is to make 2007 a lively year – and perhaps your signature year as a newly entrepreneurial physician!
1. Stop tolerating the nonsense, and speak up for what you want.
One client, an ER medical director, recognizes that he’s been putting up with nice but substandard leadership in his company for a long time. His willingness to help out has been abused. His new adventure is to learn how to be unequivocal about his reasonable expectations, what support he needs, and what the consequences will be if his requests are ignored. He’s ready to move on, if need be!
What mediocrity have you been tolerating?
What are you no longer willing to accept?
What are you willing to do to change your circumstances?
2. Discover what the people you serve REALLY want.
A new client, a management consultant, is struggling to get enough business to meet his financial needs. Rather than selling out on his desire for independence to return to corporate life, he is discovering an alternative. He sees that he hasn’t done enough homework – to explore exactly what his potential clients need and shape his services to meet that need. No longer will he sit behind his computer and design “ideal solutions” – instead, he will talk to potential clients, NOT to sell to them, but to question and then listen intently to what is causing their headaches. Only then will he go back to the drawing board to create appropriate consulting programs.
What questions will you ask of your patients or customers to determine what they TRULY need and will pay for?
3. Loosen up on that old identity
A special client undertook the planning process this year to leave medicine after 30 years in practice. Her big adventure in 2007 is to leave her physician identity behind, and embrace life as a “civvy”, acquiring new non-medical skills and traveling to foreign destinations to explore settling there.
Who else do you want to discover inside you, besides The Doctor?
4. Know your own value.
A client who is a recently-trained physician coach is ready to begin building a coaching business to help stressed-out busy professionals and parents become and stay healthy. Her personal adventure is to embrace and own the value of what she has to offer. With that accomplished, she’ll have little difficulty marketing her services – she will speak of her work with enthusiasm and conviction, because she will know that what she does makes a difference!
What professional or personal value will you promise not to deprive the world of?
5. Get serious about your hobby.
It’s been a wonderful companionable journey to witness a surgeon client and talented sculptor realize that her desire to sell her sculptures perhaps in her own gallery was more than a pipe dream. She spent the year mastering new sculpting media. And in 2007, her growing passion is nudging her to declare herself an artist and begin taking the steps to create a business on the side.
What fulfilling activity are you willing to get serious, and perhaps professional, about?
6. Get uncomfortable
Another new client is a successful physician entrepreneur by many measures who is too content with her achievements. She came to coaching because she’s ready to stretch way out of her comfort zone. It’s a thrill to hear her almost whisper her ambitions for the year, as if speaking them aloud might shock the world.
What secret dream are you eager to whisper to someone else, that you know will make you squirm with discomfort?
7. Get tech savvy
A favorite physician entrepreneur client has made great strides in her business, and sees how her lack of knowledge about the use of technology as a productivity tool is hampering her progress. Her adventure in 2007? – to overcome her trepidation of technology AND find the time to master the right tools.
What is your techno-trepidation costing you?
Which tools do you want to get comfortable using this year?
8. Discover a treasure box of resources to support you out there.
A very smart new physician-scientist client came to me bogged down in disorganization. One small suggestion to hire a personal organizer resulted in a huge “Aha” – he didn’t know such a professional existed. Another client is exploring using a virtual assistant to leverage her time better.
There is an abundance of resources available, even in smaller communities, due in part to the global reach of the Internet.
What work- or home-related tasks would you dump in a “yuck bucket” if you could? And who could you find to manage them for you?
9. Think MUCH bigger.
The client who is willing to get uncomfortable is ready to take on the risk of playing a much bigger game. Starting in 2007, she wants to build a business that is ten times bigger than it currently is – this is another order of magnitude that demands a quantum shift in thinking, management, strategy, organization, and systematization of her current business processes.
What is your next really big step – the one that makes you gulp, even as you know there’s no going back?
10. Think smaller but don’t lose sight of the prize.
In contrast to my client in number 9, a physician client has big aspirations and the talent to achieve them. However life circumstances, including being a new mom, have conspired to make striving for these goals too stressful at present. Her adventure for 2007 is to find the acceptable compromise, the one that permits her to acquire relevant new skills, begin methodically building her network, and prepare for her longer-term moves, while not losing heart.
What dream must you defer, while refusing to stop working to accomplish it anyway?
I wish you a 2007 laced with adventure, that has you feeling energized, a bit nervous, and deeply rewarded by the outcome!