Purpose & Leadership
What kind of doctor will
you be?
No, really…we’re talking about beyond choosing a specialty. You will gain a lot of knowledge in medical school. However, the most important things to your professional and leadership development are the not the answers, but in the questions.

  • Do you have goals for your career?
  • Do you connect with a strong purpose?
  • Do you know your strengths?
  • Do you know the kind of network that you need to build?
  • Do you have a vision of yourself as a doctor practicing at the peak of excellence?

Domain: Meaning/Self

What kind of doctor will I be?

Understanding one’s (unique) path of contribution and service to patients, society, and the profession

Key Distinction: Authenticity vs. Imitation

When most people approach the question, “What kind of doctor will I be?” they go towards identification with a specialty or with a function (e.g. administration, clinical, research). However, if you define yourself in these generic terms, you are ‘imitating’ others. You will not be accessing your unique talents to make an authentic contribution. This domain of meaning / self is designed to lead you towards an integrated understanding of your unique role and identity within medicine.

What matters most to me?

Related Topics: Choice and Prioritization, Personal Ethics, Resilience

What is this about:

  • Knowing Yourself. You are defined by your values. They are the closest thing to “you” that there is.
  • Knowing What Is Important. What is important to you? Why do you do what you do?
  • Acting Congruently. You have congruence in your life when you live according to your values.

Why it matters:

  • Making Choices. There are many choices coming up. How will you make the ‘right’ choices for you, and not to check off boxes?
  • Prioritizing Time. You don’t have enough time to do everything. How will you spend your time in a way that aligns with what is important to you?
  • Maintaining Resilience. As Nietsche once said, “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.” You will encounter challenges. During those times, will you know your “why”?

Strengths: What are my strengths?

Related Topics: Managing Self, Teamwork, Learning

What is this for:

Why it matters:

  • Learning and Expertise.You can be one of the world top experts in an area. What is that area? Where are your strengths and how will you develop them into a level of mastery?
  • Designing your Job.Is what you are doing utilizing your talents? Do you know what your talents are? Once you develop your talents, begin to craft your job/role more towards one which will use your top talents.
  • Teamwork.You can think of teamwork as working together with others towards a common goal. However, teamwork at its best is much more than that; It elicits each member’s superpower. What is the superpower that you are called upon to contribute?

Self-Awareness: How do I see myself, and how do others see me?

Related Topics: Identity, Feedback, Limiting Beliefs, Narrative

What is this about:

  • Taking Time to Reflect. It’s not just about nose to the grindstone 24/7. If we want to improve our lives, to grow, to advance in our careers, we must cultivate our awareness.
  • We Can Create Our Own Meaning.things happen in the external world, but we have the ability to create our own meaning from those events.
  • Other People Can Often See Us More Clearly Than We Can. We must often get feedback from others in order to learn about ourselves.

Why it matters:

  • Your Performance. You will have a tendency to perform up to the level of your expectations. You should be aware of what your expectations are. Often, they are running in the background outside of your conscious awareness.
  • Learning. You can memorize facts and practice skills, but how do you get better at living life? How do you decide to eat better, be a better spouse, and set a personal goal? It stems from your self-awareness.
  • Your Relationships. People will often not tell you difficult things to your face. How will you know how others feel towards you? How will you get that feedback from others?

Domain: Community/Team

How will I show up for others?

Objective: Understanding how to work effectively with others and influence people to achieve desired results

Key Distinction: Empathy vs. Transaction

Human beings have a need to belong. We need to have a community where we can feel safe “being ourselves”. Professionally, we can build trusting relationships to form the communities where we are supported in our work and challenged to grow. Our ability to develop community (i.e. find our tribe) has a lot to do with our attitude towards people. When we interact with others, be they colleagues or patients, do we treat others as people (through the lens of empathy) or do we treat others as objects (through the lens of transaction)?

Network: Who do I need to know?

Related Topics: Networking, Cultivating Mentors, Participation in Professional Groups

What is this about:

  • We are influenced by our community (network). We all live in relation with other people, and those people have a significant affect on our lives.
  • Intentionally defining our network. Rather than being passive, we can play an active role to shape and grow our network.
  • Investing time to growing and maintaining our network. Cultivating and vibrant network takes time and effort.

Why it matters:

  • You Are Shaped By It. There’s wise saying that goes, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Whether this is literally true is up for debate, the people with whom you you associate has a significant effect on you (e.g. health & diet and marriage.)
  • Effectiveness at Work. As you develop your network, your influence and effectiveness within the organization increases.
  • Career Opportunities. Professionally, strong networks affect the quantity and quality of career opportunities.

Relationship: How do I connect with others?

Related Topics: Trust, Reciprocity, Influence, Managing Relationships

What is this about:

  • The Need for Belonging. There is an epidemic of loneliness in medicine. We have a need for community and belonging.
  • Trust, Commonality and Vulnerability. To build community we need to have trust. To build trust, we need to establish commonality and vulnerability with others.
  • Contribute Towards Others. As members of the community. We build and strengthen our community through our attitude of care and giving towards others.

Why it matters:

  • Our Well-Being. We need to have meaningful relationships with other people. epidemic of lonelinessOur health depends on it.
  • Effectiveness with Patients. Our ability to develop trust makes us more effective with patients.
  • Cultivating Mentors and Collaborators. We can develop mutually beneficial relationships with colleagues.

Communication: How do I communicate with influence?

Related Topics: Presenting, Giving Feedback, Listening, Emails, Personal Branding

What is this about:

  • Communication Is More Than Talking. It is also about effective listening. It is also about developing a shared understanding.
  • Telling the Truth. In our communication, we must seek to tell the truth.
  • Other People Can Often See Us More Clearly Than We Can. With Compassion. We must not only seek to tell the truth, but we must also do it with compassion and empathy.

Why it matters:

  • Handling Difficult Conversations.We will be confronted with many challenging situations with others where we will be called upon to communicate with tact and empathy.
  • Personal Reputation. How we communicate with others is often the main way that others know us. Over time, how we are perceived by others is a result of the way we handle our communication.
  • Dissemination of Our Message. How will we influence other people? Through the skillful application of the art of communication.

Domain: Purpose

How will I contribute?

Objective: Developing a desire and capacity to engage in the transformation of healthcare

Key Distinction: Contribution vs. Consumption

What creates a meaningful life and career? Is the money that your will earn? The lifestyle you can enjoy? We live in a time of astounding material abundance, yet as a society, we are no happier for it. In fact, we are suffering higher rates of burnout, suicide and substance abuse. What we really want is not so much to consume as to contribute. The more we contribute, the more purpose we will have. An implicit social contract exists between society and medicine. Through reflecting on their purpose and impact, physicians have the opportunity to define the service they will render in a personally compelling way.

Mission: What am I committed to that is greater than myself?

Related Topics: Professional Purpose, Mission

What is this about:

  • Having a professional direction. Smart people can do any number of things, but what issue is important to YOU? What do you want your career to impact?
  • Knowing your “Why”. Why are you going into medicine? When the going gets hard, what will keep you “in the game”?
  • Being committed to something greater than ourselves. Are you a ‘giver’ or a ‘taker’ in life?

Why it matters:

  • Leadership. If you’re in it for yourself, your ability to influence and impact others will be severely limited. People follow those who have a purpose that is greater than themselves.
  • Professional Advancement. When you apply for career opportunities, and you are asked about your career direction, will you have a well-considered, compelling response?
  • Resilience. Medicine is challenging, in training and in practice. Having a greater sense of purpose will allow you to persevere.

Vision: How will I define success?

Related Topics: Setting Goals, Defining Vision

What is this about:

  • Defining Success. Not how society or others define success, but what does success look like on your terms?
  • Growing and Challenging Yourself. Are you maintaining the status quo, treading water day after day, or are you growing through giving yourself the challenge of working towards a better future that you have defined?
  • Creating positive change. As a result of your efforts and your career, what will have been your impact?

Why it matters:

  • Leadership. If you are looking to influence others, what is the desired future state that you will rally people towards?
  • Clarity. Defining your goals brings clarity to your day-today efforts.
  • Productivity. Having goals makes you more productive. When you have goals your actions can be better focused towards achieving the goals.

Process: What is my next step?

Related Topics: Managing Self, Developing Habits, Managing Change

What is this about:

  • Success is not about ‘tricks’,short-cuts, or luck. It’s about building yourself up through sustained effort.
  • Taking action. Move towards your goals incrementally every day even if you can’t see the entire path.
  • Habit is greater than willpower. Build up habits and routines which will be easier to sustain than to use your willpower.

Why it matters:

  • Productivity. You will define a process that will allow you to maximize the productivity of your time and effort.
  • Progress. You will make progress daily, weekly, monthly, annually towards your vision.
  • Impact. The impact you will have is the cumulative result of your sustain effort.