When it comes to complacency, what are you waiting for?

December 9, 2019

Careers are made, or lost, in the ability/inability to put one foot in front of the other and continue to grow throughout the years. Always strive for more - whatever your definition of "more" may be. 

Careers are made, or lost, in the ability/inability to put one foot in front of the other and continue to grow throughout the years. Always strive for more - whatever your definition of "more" may be. 

I was at a conference earlier this year and was wallowing in indecision as to what I wanted to do with the next step of my career/life. I had a job offer from another group and was trying to decide what to do.

I felt I had already achieved everything that I could where I was currently working, and desperately needed a change-but I was stuck in the quicksand of indecision, guilt, and fear of leaving the comfortable and moving into the unknown.

Then I looked across the patio up where I was sitting and saw the following etched into a stone bench:

“You cannot turn back the hands of the clock; but you can wind it back up again!” 

I returned to work the following morning. I gave my notice, accepted the other job and have now begun the process of re-invention.

Previously by Dianna Graves: Why your staff probably isn't prepared to handle a crisis 

Careers are made, or lost, in the ability/inability to put one foot in front of the other and continue to grow throughout the years. To always strive for more-whatever your definition of “more “may be. To be able to look in that all too clear mirror and realize that necessity is not the mother of invention but it is re-invention that is the key!

With football season in full swing, I recently was watching the hometown team drive the ball down the field. The crowd was in a frenzy knowing a touchdown was imminent. There was an undercurrent of tension in the stadium. The quarterback unleashed a bomb downfield- the player was wide open. Arms up, ready to catch the ball and be the hero in the end zone. The ball went through his hands and hit him on the top of the helmet. 

The play was over. No longer a hero-but definitely the goat.

Someone uttered: “He heard footsteps coming and lost his concentration.”

While we as managers think we are ready to streak down the field in triumph-often we are distracted by “footsteps” preventing us from venturing forward.

We fear the unknown. “If I do this, what might go wrong?” This allows us to stay the course, the safe, well-lit path we often walk. Pretty soon we get so good at following the path that we never venture off the trail. So we never pave a new way-we are simply taking a well, worn route. There’s no excitement, no challenge, no surprises.

Related: Technology makes physicians more efficient, reduces burnout 

This is what I see so many managers and staff do after being in their roles for awhile. Bored out of our gourds, non-challenged, disgruntled by our inability to climb out of the box we have placed ourselves into-and marking the days on the calendar.

The problems come when the well driven “route” that you take every day all of a sudden has a traffic jam in it and you are now forced to take an alternate route. 

Because you have never changed, never varied, you have no alternatives to take and soon get lost. Panic sets in, and your comfort zone erodes as you become more and more unable to get back on track. There is no internal GPS to get us re-centered. 

There comes a time when you have to realize that “staying the route” causes a problem that is not “external” (we are not forced to do this route-we choose to do it every day)-but is also internal. 

Related: Five-step leadership system supports patient workflow, staff efficiency

You NEED to hear footsteps behind you to realize that in order for you to re-invent yourself and grow again-you have got to take that first step of the route….and start wandering a new path. 

The beginning of the process causes many sleepless nights as you foray into the woods to do something “unknown.”

Soon instead of fear of the unknown, you begin to dream of the possibility that there is something new right around the corner, or maybe the next corner. Your senses perk up, self-awareness kicks in and you begin to believe again that you can do this: you can re-invent yourself and deliver a new view of yourself and your dreams. 

When this occurs, you can give this excitement away to others to share with them the ability for them to also re-vitalize themselves. It becomes a contagious process.

The next time you are staring in the mirror and wondering “what happened – when did life become so rote”, allow yourself to look fully through the glass at what is beyond the glass. What is coming next?!

Related: Mentoring ophthalmology's leaders of tomorrow taks structures, goals 

There is an auto-refractor that uses a hot air balloon coming over a barn as a fixation point. Many people tell their patients to look at the balloon as they are taking their measurement. But looking at the balloon still potentially allows the patient’s eyes the possibility to accommodate because they are looking at a fixed point. Not ideally the goal.

Instead, I tell them: “Do you see the balloon? Now I want you to tell me when you see the next balloon.” This puts them at infinity. No balloon is coming – but they search for it to happen. And the journey for their refraction begins. 

Viola Davis once said “I guess they say, ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ because you have two stark choices when you find yourself in a really desperate situation. You can either fold and cave-in to it or you can become really passionate about getting out of it.”

What this tells me is necessity causes us to want to change-to become passionate again. Re-invention of ourselves then allows us to do it!

Read more practice management content here 

Dianna E. Graves, COMT, BS, ED
E: dgraves@stpauleye.com
Graves is a clinical services manager at St. Paul Eye Clnic PA, in Woodbury, MN. Graves is a graduate of the School of the Ophthalmic Medical Technology, St. Paul, MN, and has been a member of its teaching faculty since 1983.