Saying Yes To The Things That MatterJun 21, 2022
Work-life balance has become increasingly popular over the last few years. As a Gen-Xer, I prided myself on hard work and never turned down an opportunity. There may have even been a side glance or an eye roll when I overheard a Millenial physician decline a new consult or chance to add an additional patient to their schedule in favor of going home early. How can you build your practice when you say no to opportunities?
It won’t surprise you to learn that I said yes to every opportunity when I first joined my practice.
- Can you see this patient today? Yes.
- Would you like to join this committee? Yes.
- Can you interview a new candidate? Yes.
- Would you like to be involved with this clinical trial? Yes.
- Can you talk to this rep about a new medication? Yes.
My policy of always saying ‘yes’ actually paid off. My practice became extremely busy as the referring physicians in my group had a chance to get to know me. I became increasingly involved in medical group leadership and got invited to fantastic leadership conferences. I honed my interview skills and learned to ask important questions.
At a certain point, always saying ‘yes’ began to weigh heavy. I was waking up at 4:30 AM for early morning leadership meetings, followed by a full day of clinic while squeezing in additional patients and intermittent curbsides. Taking full advantage of my opportunities had certainly paid off, but at what cost?
In 2019, I was introduced to Jimmy Tuner’s “Hell Yes!” Policy. To quote Dr. Turner,
“And, if something doesn’t make you say, “Hell Yes!” then you should probably just say, “no.”
For some inexplicable reason, I had never thought about things this way. “You mean I can just say ‘no’ to something and not have a good reason?” So that is what I did. I started saying no. And I didn’t just start saying no to new opportunities. I started saying no to things I was already actively participating in. I backed away from committees and leadership roles and stopped adding patients to slots that didn’t exist. I stopped spending time on activities that did not serve my family and me.
I did this on my own before I found physician coaching. I reclaimed time that was rightfully mine to use at my discretion. It was nice for a while. I could sleep an extra 45 minutes without needing to race to early morning meetings, and I was always able to tell my wife when I would be seeing my last patient of the day.
Despite these changes, I still wasn’t happy. Reclaiming my time didn’t make me feel more in control or give me a greater sense of purpose. It just allowed me to stop doing things I never truly enjoyed in the first place.
In 2020, I found physician coaching. The transformation I experienced was incredible, and I knew I needed to be part of the solution. I enrolled in coach certification and started my own coaching business. I also immersed myself in the world of physician entrepreneurs. One voice, Dr. Nneka Unachukwu (Dr. Una), encouraged budding physician entrepreneurs to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity.
- Would you like to be on my podcast? Yes.
- Would you like to coach in my program? Yes.
- Do you want to be a part of my mastermind? Yes.
- Would you like to speak at a conference? Yes.
My Gen-X nature immediately kicked in, and that is precisely what I did. Saying ‘yes’ to these things felt uncomfortable and highly unnatural. I kept saying ‘yes,’ but my brain kept asking:
- “Why are you doing this?”
- “You know you don’t have to push yourself, right?”
- “You can give this up and just go back to the way things were.”
Something incredible happened as I continued saying ‘yes’ to opportunities. I kept meeting wonderful people doing extraordinary things. There were so many physicians that were using their talents to change the culture of medicine, help physicians through burnout and overwhelm, uplevel careers, and improve relationships. Other physicians created new products, wrote books, and went viral on TikTok. And each time I said ‘yes,’ I learned a new skill. Each time I leaned into the discomfort, I demonstrated to myself that I could do hard things.
Some might look at my trajectory in my medical career and point out similarities. Early in my medical career, I was voting to be the best doctor and physician leader I could be. Those early career 'yeses' served an important purpose and I do not regret saying ‘yes’ to all of those opportunities. I learned so much about medicine, physician leadership, and myself, and that education helped me better understand what I truly want out of my medical career. I wouldn't trade that knowledge for anything. At a certain point, however, the prospect of physician leadership didn’t light me up in the same way. That is when I learned to say ‘no.’
So I stopped saying 'yes' to the things that didn’t serve me any longer and started saying ‘yes’ to the new stuff that mattered. This is all just part of the process. Saying 'yes' is essential to exploring opportunities that interest you. Learning to say 'no' is equally important when deciding those activities no longer serve you.
Each decision we make is a vote for who we want to be, and we cast each vote with a ‘yes.’ When you choose to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity, the goal is to make sure that each ‘yes’ is taking you to your desired destination. The fun part about life is that you can be on your way to one goal, decide it doesn’t sound so great, and choose a new one. Maybe one day, all you want is to be a doctor, then you decide to pursue physician leadership, then you pivot to physician coaching. Perhaps you choose to focus only on your medical career or a hobby outside of medicine. The point is that you choose your destiny with your ‘yes’ and with your time. Say ‘no’ to anything that pushes you further from your destination. Say ‘yes’ to everything that gets you where you want to be.
What are you saying 'yes' to? Are there committees, meetings, or mentorships that previously served you but no longer light you up? Have you considered saying 'no?' Are you struggling to determine what you want in life and what your legacy will be? Physician coaching might just be what you need to help you sort all of these things out and more.
I want to invite you to check out my FREE Guide. Click here to get: Design Your Life: A Goal-Setting Guide For Physicians.
This guide will help you discover what you truly want in life and how to get it!
PS. I get a lot of inspiration from music lyrics. Many people use inspiring quotes (and I do too), but music really speaks to me. I hope you find inspiration in the songs too.
Eminem - Lose Yourself (Official Video) (Explicit)
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