You Don't Need A Bigger Slice. Create A Bigger Pie And Everybody Wins!

balance goals Apr 13, 2022
Female physician taking a slice of pie with abundance


When my mother turned 18, her father gave her a St. Christopher medallion to bless her in her travels and a $10 bill so that she would never be without money.  She saved both.  They remain enshrined in the original plastic box.  The box is now weathered and held together by masking tape.  Fortunately, she has never needed “the last $10.”



I always thought this was an incredibly sweet gift.  The story stuck with me.  I’ve often imagined how I might give my children a similar gift.  A token of some sort that might enable security even when life seems dark and bleak.  An object that could provide safety and protection from misfortune.  I’ll admit that I already have an older-style $10 bill set aside in a drawer for my daughter.



Coaching introduced me to the idea of scarcity.  Scarcity refers to the notion that there are finite resources and unlimited wants and desires in the world.  Most of us live in scarcity, and it shows up in many different ways. 


  •         What will happen to my RVUs when we hire that new physician?
  •         How will we afford that home renovation?
  •         There is never enough time for the things I want to do!
  •         There are only two days left of vacation.
  •         I want to save that bottle of wine for a special occasion.
  •         How can they afford that new house?
  •         How did they get to retire at 50 while I am still working?



When coaching physicians, the two limited resources that bring up the most stress are time and money.  Of those two, time is truly the most valuable and finite resource.  The importance of defining your priorities and being intentional with your time is a pillar of my self-coaching practice.  (If you haven’t had the opportunity to read my post on life-life balance, I invite you to check it out. ) 



Money, on the other hand, is a different story.  It is not nearly as valuable or as limited as time.  You may still have money when you die, but your time is up.  We spend so much of our time focused on making money without giving much thought to the time we are losing in the process.



Over my almost 13 years as an employed gastroenterologist, I have had the incredible opportunity of being a part of our medical group’s hiring process.  When I joined our multi-specialty group in 2009, I was the second gastroenterologist.  Our ninth partner will be joining us this coming summer.  As demand for our services grew, it was clear that more physicians were required to fill the community’s needs.  I would love to say that I have always been on board with the hiring process, but it has never felt simple or straightforward.  My clinic and procedure schedule could be busting at the seams.  Still, when an additional GI physician is proposed, my scarcity mindset kicks in: How will hiring this new doctor affect my schedule, RVUs, and income? 



In The Psychology of Money, Morgan Housel writes: “The inability to deny a potential dollar bill eventually catches up with you.”  Worrying about how hiring a new physician would affect my income prolonged the hiring process, amplified my burnout, and ate up my precious time.  It was a painful lesson to learn.



The thing about scarcity is the assumption that there can only be one winner:

“If the hospital is looking to hire another doctor, it is so they can make more money, and I will make less.” 


Hiring an additional physician has almost always turned out to be a win-win-win-win.  The hospital wins by increasing volume and capacity.  The new physician wins by joining a collegial, busy practice.  The patients win by having improved access to physicians.  Last but certainly not least, I win because I don’t have to be overwhelmed by a waitlist comprised of thirty or more patients clamoring to be seen sooner.  Each time we hired a new physician, my income did not diminish, but my life improved exponentially because it helped me create more time.  The hospital, the new physician, and the patients also benefited.  How can it be possible that everyone wins?  The answer is abundance.



Abundance is the idea that there are plenty of resources for everyone.  It is the belief that a new physician in the practice can make a fantastic living seeing lots of patients without taking money away from me.  It is the idea that the slice of the pie may get smaller, but the size of the pie gets bigger.  It is the idea that there isn’t one clear winner.  Everyone can win!  Success begets success.



Abundance feels better.  I don’t have to begrudge someone else for what they have.  I don’t have to worry about not having enough patients to see because my patients know, like, and trust me.  My patients will continue to find me because I am the right doctor for them.  I don’t have to see all of the patients.  In fact, I can’t see all of the patients!



While abundance feels great, it is not the antidote to scarcity.  The antidote to scarcity is recognizing when you have enough.  It is knowing that I have enough patients and enough procedures to sustain my practice.  It is knowing that I don’t have to continually grow my practice when I do not have a desire to be busier.  It is the knowledge that I can see more patients if I want to, but not because I have to.  As humans, we tend to believe that if a little bit is good, then more is better.  That type of thinking set me spinning on the hamster wheel of life.  I was running fast but not getting far.  Physician coaching has taught me to keep my “physician personality” in check while focusing on when I have enough.



Thoughts about scarcity come naturally.  They tell me not to get rid of the extra mugs overflowing the cabinet or that shirt from 2005 because you never know when you might need it.  Creating thoughts of abundance and gaining the ability to recognize when you have enough takes practice.  It starts with gratitude and remembering all of your many blessings.  It begins with knowing that having more will not necessarily make you happier.



It turns out that the gift I want to leave my children is not a $10 bill.  The gifts I wish to bestow upon my children are the ideas of curiosity and abundance.  I want to instill the ability to create the things they need and want in life.  When they find themselves confronted with a difficult situation, I want them to feel prepared to take on the world.  I want them to dig deep and know they have all the tools they need to create whatever success they seek.  Who knows what $10 will buy in the future, but with that kind of wisdom, my children can build the life of their dreams.  They won’t be limited by what they have.  Their only limit will be how big they can dream!




Are there areas of your life where scarcity shows up?  How does it make you feel?  Are those thoughts helpful or useful in any way?  Can you find a way to recognize enough?  Is it possible you can see the abundance of the situation?



Are you interested in creating more balance in your life?  I want to invite you to check out my FREE TRAINING.  Click here to get: How Busy Physicians Can Stop Trying To Escape Medicine And Start Living Their Best Life Today.

This training will teach you the five essential techniques physicians need to stop feeling stuck, burned out, and trapped in medicine.  You will also learn how to discover what you truly want in life and how to get it!



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