I was becoming really nervous about my lack of preparation for a strategic planning retreat. The CEO, the senior executive team, and several physicians and board members were going to meet in three days to discuss a variety of important issues. One of my assignments was to present a 30 minute review of an important project. This would set the stage for selecting one of several possible approaches to the project. I would need to do some deep work for this presentation.
First, I had to create an outline of my presentation and complete some background research. Then, I would design my slides and organize and rehearse the presentation. Because I had not even formulated the overall message of the presentation, I was getting really anxious about it.
I had little uninterrupted time at the office to prepare because I had double-booked my usual meetings in anticipation of attending the retreat. At home, I was similarly unable to extract myself from the usual interruptions of phone calls, texts and other urgent problems.
Enabling Deep Work
I decided to use one of my time-tested tactics to help me focus and create some dedicated thinking time for this problem. On the following Saturday, my wife was planning to run a short errand. I informed her that when she left, I was going to go on a brisk walk, so not to worry if I wasn’t home when she returned.
I followed the plan and walked for about 45 minutes around our neighborhood. During that time, I was able to focus and mentally review the pros and cons that I wanted to present. I fashioned a short list of steps for the proposed project and a timeline in my mind. When I thought about a couple of background items that I needed to follow-up on, I dictated a reminder into my cell phone voice recording app.
After making a commitment to write consistently at Vital Physician Executive, I quickly learned that writing regularly can be a daunting task. From topic selection, to creating content efficiently, it is a process that requires practice and a perseverence. I’ve sought to learn the keys to writing quickly and efficiently. I believe the effort has been worth it, because the written word is so important for inspiring, teaching, entertaining and engaging others.
Some years ago, a young African-American came to the realization that the key to escaping the poverty and hopelessness into which he had been born was to escape from illiteracy. Hence, he devoted much of his youth to educating himself. He not only learned to read, but to speak and write passionately and eloquently.
After moving from his birthplace in Maryland as a young man, he began to write about his experiences and found a following for his writings. Eventually, he published a book describing his life as a young black man in the U.S. Those writings and his speeches inspired thousands of persons who read them to join the movement that he had committed himself to.
His book, written and published at the age of 27, described in detail his life under, and escape from, slavery. It was published 16 years before the start of the U.S. Civil War, and made a meaningful contribution to the abolitionist movement that eventually ended slavery. That author was Frederick Douglass.
Great writing can have profound effects. It is an essential skill of any leader. Verbal communication is important. But writing serves as the basis for most important forms of lasting communication, even if the message is delivered in a speech. Whether writing a scientific presentation, book, white paper, or newsletter to our colleagues, it is a fundamental skill that must be learned.
For this post, I thought I would discuss SMART goals and use them for my blog for 2017. It is quite common for each executive in a healthcare organization to create management goals for the coming year. Then the CEO and the senior executive team discusses and approves them. All of the divisional goals are ultimately presented to the Board of Directors.
Your directors will create their goals as well, as we discussed in SWOT Analysis and Goal Setting. You will then review their goals and help adjust them as needed.
Using the SMART acronym will help you to identify appropriate goals. And they will ensure that you continue to remain indispensable to your CEO and board.
In addition to blogging on a regular basis, I am a practicing family physician. I work in an urgent care clinic as medical director and clinician. As I arrived early for my shift this morning, I thought, “you know, there are many advantages to being early.”
My commute is rather long (over an hour each way). On 2 or 3 occasions I have been severely delayed due to major accidents on the tollways that I take to work (Quel embouteillage!*). So I make it a point to leave extra time for my commute.
When I walked into my dark, quiet clinic today, I was struck by the benefits of arriving early. Today, I had some left over paperwork from home that I needed to do, and a blog post to publish! I also wanted to clear my desk and respond to some email messages. I was able to do most of that before the first employee arrived a little before 8:00 AM.
Office email had become a major aggravation for me. Along with the occasional helpful or important message, I was wading through dozens of useless and bothersome emails whenever I had a spare moment. I was deleting dozens of messages that added nothing to my effectiveness as chief medical officer.
Many of the incoming emails were rambling or outright confusing. Some left me wondering about their purpose: to inform me? ask for advice? or seek approval? And my direct reports and colleagues were using email in a way that didn’t seem appropriate.