Dear Physician Coaching SkepticMar 30, 2022
Dear Physician Coaching Skeptic,
I see you. I hear you. I was you.
I imagine many of you believe that I was always a die-hard fan of coaching. You might even think I signed up for my first coaching program without hesitation or objection. If you know me, you also know that isn’t me.
Up until 2020, I prided myself on my cynicism. I was a skeptic through and through. When my wife referred to lollipops as “suckers,” the New Yorker in me immediately corrected her. A sucker is someone who gets taken advantage of, not an enjoyable candy for children. I am not a sucker, and I want to do everything to protect my family from anyone who might attempt to exploit them.
Now that I have brought you up to speed, it should come as no surprise that signing up for my first coaching program was a giant leap of faith. I had no source of reference or comparison for what might lie ahead, and I had to trust that there was a process and that it would work.
Coaching taught me the basis for skepticism and cynicism. The root cause is the belief that things are as good as they can get. It is the thought that I am a product of my circumstance and my circumstance cannot be changed. When we talk to our friends, we commiserate. We hear each other’s stories and validate unhelpful thoughts. We share opinions about feeling stuck and how certain situations are unfair or just plain suck. We can’t see another option or a way out, so we perpetuate their misery and our own. In essence, we try to save our friends from drowning by swimming alongside them, rather than throwing them a life raft from dry land.
Others might think their life is pretty good, so coaching is pointless. One of my mentors, Brooke Castillo, asks an interesting question: On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your life? Many people answer 7 or 8. A second, more provocative question then emerges: What if what you think is a 7 or 8 is actually a 2? In other words, what if you can’t even imagine how incredible your life could be? That is what coaching does. It parts the clouds so that you can see clear skies.
A recent thread in a physician Facebook group got me thinking. There were so many physicians doubting the ability of physician coaches. Physician coaches were attacked for not having the expertise or prowess to navigate the potentially delicate waters of mental health. I found myself shouting at my phone: We are physician coaches! Why are you discounting the extensive medical training that predated the coaching? Why are you disregarding the part of a physician’s daily work that is coaching patients? The irony was not lost on me that this thread occurred in a Financial Independence Retirement Early (FIRE) physician group. These are physicians toiling to escape their career in medicine and unable to see that they don’t have to flee patient care to live their best lives. If you can’t see there is a better way, of course, you wouldn’t be able to see the value in coaching. Rather than disparage physician coaches, maybe explore why so many physicians are turning to coaching, then going on to become coaches themselves with the incredible news that there is indeed a better way.
Physicians coaching others is not new work. We counsel patients daily on their illnesses and hold their hands in challenging situations. When I think of a physician coach, I think of a physician aiming to heal the healers. A physician coach has taken on the duty of supporting fellow physicians during difficult times. He is a friendly, encouraging individual familiar with the struggles that face all physicians in current-day medical practice. She is a doctor that knows you don’t have to change a situation to be happy. You can be a happy physician in any circumstance.
I recently had a physician client sign up for a second 12-week coaching session. During the new session’s first meeting, I asked what he had gotten out of the last 12 weeks. His answer, while not website appropriate, is probably one of my favorite testimonials:
“Well, I wouldn’t say 12 weeks. I’d say more like: ‘What did I get out of the last six weeks?’ To be honest, for the first six weeks, I thought you were full of shit. Then, I started to notice that I was responding better in difficult situations. Also, people started to point out that I seemed to be in a better mood. That is when I actually started to realize that we might be on to something.”
I explained that his initial response to coaching is a common one. Our brains try to resist change because change can be uncomfortable. However, that discomfort is also where we find the most significant growth. That is the first step towards getting what we want.
Coaching isn’t for everyone. It is for people who know there is a better way but aren’t quite sure how to get there. It is for people who know what they want but can’t figure out how to do it. It is for people that are stuck on the follow-through. It is for people searching themselves for permission to do what they already know they want to do. It is about support, vulnerability, and empowerment. It is not about feeling sorry for the situation but striving for the next level of growth, happiness, and fulfillment. It is about bringing a new level of awareness to your life that you cannot achieve quickly on your own.
As physicians, we have spent the last two years watching what happens when the world comments on things they don’t fully understand. As the topics shift, people become "experts" in unfamiliar subjects. If you haven’t experienced physician coaching, maybe give it a try. Or, if you are genuinely uninterested, and have never experienced coaching firsthand, withhold your judgments.
On a personal note, I experienced the most incredible transformation of my life through coaching. It saddens me to think someone else might miss out on this opportunity because of ill-informed commentary. Coaching is not a scam. It is not a scheme or a con. It transformed my life and has allowed me to live the life I want on my own terms. I am so glad that I let myself feel skeptical but pursued coaching anyway. I have learned so much in the process, and that has made all of the difference.
All my best,
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 tools physicians need to stop feeling disconnected, overwhelmed, and trapped in medicine. You will also learn how to discover what you truly want in life and how to get it.
Stay connected with news, updates and more!
If you like what you are reading and want to stay informed when there is new content, please take a moment to join the mailing list.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.
SPAM is the worst. I will never sell your information. Ever.