2. Living Deliberately Through The Power of Coaching

Coaching has helped us both transform our lives. In this episode, we discuss how being coached changed our paths in unexpected but exciting ways.

We talk about the moments in coaching that changed our lives and shifted our paths toward becoming certified physician coaches.

What you'll learn:

  • How coaching can transform your life
  • Recognizing and overcoming limiting beliefs
  • The profound moments when coaching ultimately impacted us
  • If you want your life to be different, you must start by making different choices

Featured in this episode:

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Michael: Welcome to Doctors Living Deliberately. So I wanted to start today's episode with a quote, and this is a quote by Wayne Dyer, and it is "If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." And I think that this is gonna be such a pivotal theme for this show because we have met so many incredible physicians on our journeys that have transformed their lives. They've created opportunities for themselves that they never thought were possible, and in so doing have changed their own lives, the lives of the people around them, their families, and just in ways that they never imagined. And that is again our goal here with you today. Welcome back, Arpita.

Arpita: Hey, thanks Michael. Thanks for having us back and we're all here together again. I'm excited to be here.

Michael: Absolutely. So, you know, I thought what would be great for this episode is to talk a little bit about our transformations, the things that we have done and how coaching really helped us to figure out what we wanted, and it did it in different ways for each one of us. Can you tell me a little bit about what was going on for you and how you found physician coaching?

Arpita: Yeah, of course. It was, definitely not expected. I will say you know, I mentioned, I think the previous episode, I was practicing part-time as a pediatrician and then my husband opened his interventional spine practice and I started working a little bit there as well part-time. And then I was asked to go full-time with my practice as the senior partner was retiring, they wanted me to replace her, but the only option was full-time. And I decided right then I knew that I didn't wanna be full-time. I wanted to handle things with the kids and be able to be present for them, but I also was now doing things with the office and administrator role, so I really didn't have that availability.

So I made that really difficult decision to step back from peds, which I would slowly find out would really be a dagger to my self worth over the next couple years. But I did that because I knew that I was not gonna do more than two, three days a week. And so life started happening. I became more and more enmeshed in our medical practice in that administrator role. And it got to the point where I was working there almost 80 some hours a week. I mean, it was crazy. And I would also find out later, because that's how I was proving myself to be valuable to the family, what I was bringing home, because my time and my efforts and making that practice perfect and pristine, translated into what we were able to generate from that practice and what we were able to bring home for our family in order to plan for our futures. And so I really became enmeshed in that, and it was just a rat race of day to day. I wasn't enjoying the things with my kids. I really wasn't practicing peds much at all. I did finally realize that I was missing it and I was attributing that the anger that I was having throughout the days of working these eight hour weeks, I was blaming it on my husband.

I was thinking, you know, because he opened this practice and I'm there doing this practice with him 

now I can't practice clinically, I don't have time. So it's funny how our brain works. It just kind of like translated this into that, and he never ever said that. He never said, you can't practice medicine. He se to do all of it, but I was blaming him and so that was the incentive though, that maybe I was feeling these negative emotions and feeling angry and resentful because I wasn't practicing peds. So I opened that peds Proxy md, which is my locums business, where I could practice pediatrics kind of on my schedule locally in the area when practices had shortage due to, you know, maternity leave, extended vacations, illnesses, et cetera, et cetera.

And that worked out pretty well. It gave me a sense of being able to still maintain my knowledge base and my practicing skills clinically until Covid hit and then Covid hit and we not only had no need for extra pediatricians, but we also had to shut down our medical practice that we owned for almost eight weeks. And that's kind of when a lot of stuff started hitting the fan is how I will say it. And I became even more resentful and angry. And it was primarily because over those eight weeks we supported our staff a hundred percent financially with their medical insurance, with their personal needs and struggles and really gave everything to keep everybody afloat and mentally okay. And then once we reopened, slowly, gradually got back up to par and within, I would say three months of reopening, we lost a hundred percent of our staff, well all but one of our staff to turn over gradually over that time.

Michael: Wow.

Arpita: That's, yeah. That's when my anger really hit the top. You know? Yeah. Because I was, I'm thinking we just did everything for these people. We were pulling out of our savings to pay for them to have an income. We were not taking an income, and they turn around and thank us with this. Right? And so that anger was so intense at that time. I remember I called my best friend, who by the way, is also, she's a coach, and she had been in coaching for almost two to three years at that point, and I remember thinking the entire time, I don't know why she's doing this coaching stuff, like what is this coaching stuff? She's doing it maybe because she's trying to create a new career or you know, build her self confidence. I'm not really sure, but that's not for me. And then I'm sitting here complaining to her about how my dependability in the office and my husband's dependability in the office is dependent on that of others, i.e. our staff. So if our staff are not dependable, we can't be dependable.

And I was just, again, complaining, complaining, bitching to her about how awful these people are and how I'm showing up angry at home. I come home and I'm, you know, some days I'm yelling at the kids and they've really not done anything. Other days they have done stuff and I'm yelling and, you know, and she just said are you dependable the way you're showing up for your kids? Like, do they know which mom they're getting when they come home? Is it the pissy, angry mom, or is it the loving mom? Like, how are you showing up? 

Michael: Whoa.

Arpita: Yeah, that was the oh my god moment, right? Michael: Yes. Yes.

Arpita: I'm sitting here thinking that my dependability is dependent on that of others, and that's translating into me not showing up in a way that's dependable for my own family and my kids, which was who I created everything, my schedule, everything was revolving around trying to be able to be present and there for them. And that's how I was showing up.

Michael: So yeah, that was something we talked about before, right? And in, that very first episode about how you had basically created your life for your family and then kind of it got turned around, right? I mean and just to kind of dig in a little bit more on what you were just saying, you know, you had put all of your focus on being the practice manager, right? Because you were building your own self-worth, right? You thought like, if I can't be a pediatrician, who am I? And so I need to work really hard in this practice manager role to prove myself.

Arpita: Exactly.

Michael: Yet simultaneously not giving yourself credit that, that is an incredible skillset that so many people don't have. Being a practice manager, being able to run all of the day-to-day stuff, to manage the managers, to do all of the things, and you had this incredible skillset and still weren't giving yourself the credit of all of this amazing stuff that you were doing day to day.

Arpita: Yeah, and I think that goes back to again, what we're socialized to believe. And a lot of it, even culturally for us, you know, that you have to have a respectable career. That means you're a doctor, an engineer, lawyer, you know what I mean? And so there's a very set list or ideas that are ingrained. And so again we get to choose what we wanna believe, but when we're kids, and these are the things that are kind of presented to us, we start to adopt these ideas and thoughts and think them over and over and over. And that becomes our belief that the only way I can have a respectable career is if I do one of these things. And so for me to go from a doctor practicing clinically, being responsible for people's lives to being an administrator, that was like a significant, wow, that's such a demotion in my mind.

That's what I was creating for myself and the shame that I was feeling, or that I was creating because I wasn't practicing clinically was all, all of this was related to my self-worth is there, because I'm a doctor. So because I'm not a doctor anymore, I really have to overcompensate in this role to prove my worth. And that's what I was doing and that's why I was working 80 hours a week. That's why 

everything had to be perfect. That's why everybody who couldn't do things perfectly just we're not good enough to be with us, working with us. So that kind of revelation slowly started to become more clear for me as I started my journey with the coaching path. And a big part of it is just being present and aware, being really mindful of what you're thinking and why and doing this work and it's so hard to just dive in and start being present and aware. You really have to ask yourself some really difficult questions to get to that root cause of why things are the way they are for you. So, yeah. So anyway, my buddy, I was talking to her. I had a major mind-gasm there, I would say, because I had no idea that that was what I was creating.

I was the one that was creating that by thinking that. And so she recommended, I just start really listening to some podcasts to see if I'm interested in learning more about this work, which I started doing. I binged them, like crazy over two months. And then I decided to enroll in a coaching program for myself to really get coached in a group setting as well as a one-on-one setting for myself. And that brought a lot of change and awareness to me. And right then I knew that this is something that I wanted to do for my career change, my next step in my career so that I could help other people get there as well, because we don't think that there's any other option. We don't see the possibility of anything else. And I remember thinking when Covid happened and we shut it down, we started back up and I was doing the practice administrator role and then still thinking, I don't know if I wanna even do the locums now. And I still hate the practice administrator stuff but what else do I do?

Michael: Yeah.

Arpita: Like I didn't even see the option of doing anything else. And so that's kind of where it was. So I became certified as a mindset coach and it has totally changed my perspective on my career for down the road. Also, more importantly, has just really helped me see that I can have that joy I feel from helping other kids or little kiddos and apply it elsewhere, helping other people. And I still get that gratification with doing that, to really help people make a change. So...

Michael: Absolutely. I, You know, I just want to draw attention to the fact that, you know, we have all of these ideas, right? I mean, in coaching we would call them limiting beliefs. So these ideas that we are who we are, right? We tell ourselves, oh, I am a pediatrician, and that's all I can be and we make it mean so much when all of a sudden I can't be that thing anymore, or I've chosen not to be that thing anymore, right? What does that mean about me? What does that mean about my identity? What does it mean about my worth? Right? And what you've shown yourself is that you are always worthy, right? And you can take skills that you learn in one area of your life and apply them to something different and be just as happy if not happier, and open up so much opportunity for yourself in the process. And it's incredible.

And you were mentioning that, that is what coaching does for people. Right? And it doesn't do it in the same way for everyone, but enabling you to think beyond kind of the box that you've built for 

yourself. Arpita: Exactly.

Michael: And open the lid and see like, oh my goodness, there's a whole world out here of all of these other things that I could be doing.

Arpita: Right. And just like blowing away these constructs that this is the only way to do it, right? Like you mentioned, we don't even consider it because this is the path that we had created and this is what it traditionally looks like for everybody. So that's what I gotta do, right? I mean, you could practice medicine part-time and build a career in something else, or be a business owner. You get to choose, you can leave medicine completely and do something different. Or you could stay in medicine a hundred percent and reclaim the joy of doing that, right? So it's just recognizing if you are unhappy, why you are unhappy in the current present moment, and then what do you wanna do to make a change there? So how about you, Michael? Tell me your story. How did you find coaching?

Michael: Yeah, so we talked a little bit about how kind of I had built the life that I had always pictured, right? So I was a... or am a, right because all of this stuff is still the same, right? So I am a full-time Gastroenterologist. I live in an incredible city with my wife and my two kids. And I work for a, you know, a good size practice. I'm busy. I'm well known in my community and it was everything that I had ever wanted, and I felt like I just kind of got into a rut, into a routine and, we will certainly delve more into that. And it kind of just didn't make any sense to me, how is it that I built the life that I had always wanted and it still, something still felt like it was missing.

And I had seen some, you know, some advertisements for a physician coaching program and I was super skeptical. You know, I did not think that this was something, this was a solution for what was going on for me. But it was free. And I kind of logged in and I watched a couple of physicians talk about some of the things that they were going through, and some of the things made sense to me and some of the things I kind of wasn't really sure was a good fit for me. And I got off that call and I just was like, this is not, this is not for me. I, you know, I don't, these other people and I don't have anything in common. And I was talking to my wife about it afterwards and just kind of basically saying, you know, this isn't for me. And she kind of wasn't really believing that and said, well, maybe, maybe you should think a little bit more about it and I kind of was like, nah, you know, I've already made my decision. That's it. And the following day the coach reached out to me and offered me a one-on-one session where I could talk about something that was going on for me. And I agreed. I was like you know, well, why not? I'll give it a try.

And so we coached and I think at that point in time, the thing I was, that I was complaining about was that I had a wait list for my clinic patients. And no matter how hard I tried to get on top of it, there was always, it always seemed like it was this endless list of people that needed to be seen. And 

I just didn't have any place or time, you know, to do all of the work. And we talked through it and I really saw a shift in myself at the end of that conversation about how I was thinking about this list of people that wanted to see me. I saw it as a burden rather than the gift that it was of, oh gee, look like you are in demand. People want to come and see you, and all of these people, they're gonna wait to see you. And so you can see them now or you can see them later. And you're a great doctor. And it was such a huge shift for me. And so as we were getting off the call, I appreciated it, but I was still like, nah, I don't, I still don't think that this coaching thing is for me.

And then I got asked the question that changed my life, which was, if you don't do this, what will change, and I had never really thought about things in that way. Right? I had always just kind of pictured, if I just keep going, I'll figure it out. And in that moment there was this clarity of, oh wait, if I want things to be different, I have to be different. I have to make a different decision. I have to choose where I would've previously said, you can't spend the money on yourself. You just have to keep saving money so that you can get outta medicine and then live the life that you want. And rather, I had to say, look, this is how you've been doing things squirreling away money, saving with the goal of getting out of medicine and you're not happy. Maybe you need to do something different. And in that one question and in my answer to that question, which was, you're right I need to do something different, my entire life changed. And I found what I was looking for which was me developing purpose-driven goals that would make me happy moving forward. And my life just has never been the same since that time.

Arpita: Yeah. So that question, that was pivotal for you. I could see like that, wow, oh yeah, it's true. If I don't change anything. So what do you think really was that drive when you saw that? When you were asked that question and you recognize that I have to make a change? There's still a little bit of hesitancy, I can see the skepticism. How did you overcome that? With just that question maybe being the scratch on the surface of making you be aware of it.

Michael: I think skepticism and I think particularly amongst physicians comes from the thought that like, this is as good as it gets. There's no possibility for things to be better than they already are because things are great. Right? And I think in that question, it kind of put a little crack in that wall that I had built, which was just that nothing can change, right? This is just how things are and it just let a little bit of light in to be like maybe? Right? Maybe... and it was just that little bit of maybe that was like, okay, I'm just gonna do this.

Arpita: Yeah. And it's, it is an investment. It's an investment of our time, and it's an investment of cash, quite frankly. It's not easy to do. I don't want to spend that money on myself because there's so many other things that I should be taking care of or making sure I'm planning for, for the kids, for school, for college, for weddings, blah, blah, blah. Weddings... it's way down the road. But still, that's what our mind goes to, right? That's what we have to plan for. 

Michael: For sure.
Arpita: So for you, how did you finally take that jump off the cliff to say, you know what, I'm just

gonna do it. What was that? Do you remember? When you think back to it, what was it?

Michael: Yeah, I think it was just realizing, and we've heard it said about retirement before, you want to be running towards something, not away from something, and the truth is, at that point in my life, I was running away from medicine. I was doing what I needed to do to kind of get out. And I think, again, I think the possibility that I could be running towards something that I really wanted and that I did have the possibility, I just kept telling myself like, you just are who you are. Right? This is just how it's always going to be. And when, you know, it's almost like the coach was carrying a belief in me that I didn't have yet, which was that I had the potential for change because I never thought that about myself. I just thought, look, you are who you are, and that's just always how you're gonna be. And for him to bring with him this belief in me that I could be different, that my life could be different. I actually almost borrowed his belief in me so that I could be the person that he thought I could be and that I didn't know I could be, honestly.

Arpita: It's almost like we have to get this permission to believe it, you know? And so when we see that other people believe it, then we're willing to maybe try it on. And then I think as you dive deeper into that like we start to recognize that these expectations that we have, we think other people want us to behave a certain way, will do it. But in this scenario, more specifically, it's, it's our glimmer of hope that if they have the faith in me that I can do it, that I can do it, but this is a huge investment. And what if it doesn't work? Right? I remember thinking, what if it doesn't work? And what I realized was that if, like you said, if I don't give it a chance, then nothing's going to change. If I do give it a chance and it totally changes, totally worth it. Right? And so I need to give myself the opportunity to make that change. And if I don't make that effort by doing this, then I'm the only one to blame.

Michael: Yeah. And when you think about all of the other things that we're kind of like squirreling away money for, for this, like thoughts about what our future might look like. You know, we've got retirement accounts and investment accounts and, you know, 529's for college savings and all of these things, but what are you building towards? Right? Is it just so we can kind of just sit around and do nothing? Or do you wanna start building the life now that you're gonna be living into in the future? Right? Like, what do you want it to look like? And honestly, nobody had ever asked me that question before. I just had this belief that I was just gonna be a doctor until I wasn't a doctor anymore. And then I was just gonna sit around on the couch and read books all day, or, you know, go out to nice dinners or go on vacation and realistically, that all sounds great. But like how many years of my life was I just gonna live out just kind of doing that, moving along without actually thinking about like, well, what lights you up? What do you really want to be doing with your days? And I think that, that's what coaching gifted me as well was this thought about what could my future look like? What could I 

be doing? What am I interested in? I don't even know. Right? But it gave me an opportunity to figure it out.

Arpita: Right. I don't think we know, because we forget to think about it. We forget to dream, we forget. We go through college and med school and residency, and we start having kids and we start having a family and we join a practice or we create a practice and we have to build that and make it be what we need it to be in order to have the steady state of earning money to save for the kids and then the kids, kind of start getting older and we start recognizing what are we gonna do next? Is this really what I wanna do?

Michael: Yeah. Right. For sure.
Arpita: And this is where we can decide, is this really what we wanna do or do we want to add

something in? And that's the beauty of it. So, so, yeah.

Michael: And we are just two stories that you guys are gonna hear from, right? And that is our, again, our goal here is to introduce you to the idea that we can change our lives, that we can live into the future that we want to have. And so that's what we're gonna be doing here. We've kind of been laying the groundwork for that in these first couple of episodes, but now we're really gonna kind of move forward, let you listen to some other amazing physicians that are out there changing the world, building community and really highlight their transformations. And we're so excited to share our journeys and their journeys with you.

Arpita: Yes, I'm excited and I wanna throw in there, we're gonna have family members of physicians who've gone through coaching, we're gonna have physician couples who've both been coached and just seeing how that transformation happened for both of them. So, lots of fun, exciting things coming, perspectives that you might not see with people that we're bringing on. So we look forward to having you next time. we'll see you then. Take care guys.

Michael: Take care. Bye Arpita: Bye.

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