I’m not a college athlete, but I’m still getting coached.

How do you react to failure?  Most of us feel embarrassed and defeated.  It knocks the wind out of us and makes us want to hide away from the world for a while.

I’ve found that this reaction is going to occur regardless of your mindset.  However, I’ve also found that my role models, those really good people, always do two things: 1) admit to this disappointment wholeheartedly without becoming overly emotional, and 2) seek out similar uncomfortable opportunities to strengthen their weak muscles.  Experts in their fields recognize that mastery is a dynamic rather than static process.  This becomes especially important when a field (like medicine) is constantly evolving.

Fewer people, however, like to hear about their weaknesses from another person.  Over the years, I have come to accept that listening to criticisms, even those that are constructive, from others can be very challenging and necessitating pride-swallowing.  However, it’s easier to be patient and eager to adapt to feedback when you place the comments you receive in the context of a greater pursuit, i.e. becoming a better physician so you can better take care of your patients, regardless of the other person’s intention for giving you criticisms.

John and Ann Doerr made an extremely generous donation to Rice to found the Doerr Institute for New Leaders.  How incredible of an opportunity to receive this same training as that which CEOs of Fortune 500 companies receive!

My “coaching” experience officially began yesterday at my first session.  With only one semester left at Rice, it is a privilege to take advantage of this course before crossing Main St. for my next chapter.  My professional coach and I reviewed my emotional intelligence assessment, openly discussed areas in which I may approve, and established tangible goals all just by talking!  I entered the session with an open mind, sat through the session with occasional laughter about my idiosyncrasies we discussed, and left the session motivated to tackle the tangibles within the next couple of days.  It was cathartic without any venting, and productive without any embarrassment.  Why don’t more people do this sort of thing!

Dr. Gawande discusses how coaching should more readily be exercised in surgical training and even throughout a career in surgery in The New Yorker (I told my coach to read this article so he could understand my future career field better, hehe).  Some of my favorite quotes from the article are as follows:

“Expertise is thought to be not a static condition but one that doctors must build and sustain for themselves.” (especially when patient lives must always be of utmost concern)

“Good coaches know how to break down performance into its critical individual components.”

“For society, too, there are uncomfortable difficulties: we may not be ready to accept—or pay for—a cadre of people who identify the flaws in the professionals upon whom we rely, and yet hold in confidence what they see. Coaching done well may be the most effective intervention designed for human performance.”

I really encourage everyone to dig deeper for your inner humility, look to others for advice, and accept comments you receive with strength and grace.  Although having a professional coach this semester is a fantastic opportunity to work with someone who has a lot of experience in corporate leadership and mentoring, I can really practice what I’m writing about with anyone else.


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