Managing Oneself : A Physician's Diary for Making a Difference III - Knowing Oneself & Resilience
Updated: Jan 7
Most doctors think that they know what they are good at. They could be wrong. A doctor can function only from a position of strength. One cannot build performance on weaknesses, or on something one cannot do at all. This particularly important for handling responsibility in a clinician leadership role.
The only way to discover one’s strengths is through feedback from peers and the people one manages. Also, there are a number of psychometric tools that if applied, can indicate the type of person one is. It is important that you know the person in the mirror well – one’s proclivities; how is one likely to react in a situation; and how do the team members see them. It is only then that can one work consciously, on developing oneself and converting weaknesses into strengths.
In dealing with patients, doctors will experience set-backs and need to handle them inwardly. The emotional risk that a doctor faces can be acute as well as chronic. In his essay titled Aequanimitas, William Osler advocates two qualities for physicians: ‘imperturbability ‘and ‘equanimity’. He regarded imperturbability as the most important quality of a good physician. He defines this as coolness and presence of mind in all circumstances, and clarity of judgment in moments of grave peril. In addition, the ability to recover and rebound from set-backs is an essential quality for a doctor.
Resilient doctors are generally aware of a situation and their own emotions related to the it. By remaining aware, they can tackle the problem internally and externally. In fact, they come out stronger. It is important to understand that a doctor can only control what they can; they also need to cope with what they cannot control and are essentially required to maintain focus on what is important. Being happy about oneself, doing physical exercise and observing cognitive rituals such as practicing mindfulness and meditation go a long way in developing resilience.
As a medical professional it is imperative to know oneself and use that awareness to develop one’s competencies and most importantly develop resilience to help themselves, in both their professional and personal life.