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Carving Your Practice - "Having A Pioneering Spirit"!


Pioneering Spirit 

In this weeks podcast we are going to take a look at something we haven’t done here at FlightBridgeED.  Let us invest in our own personal pursuit to greatness.  Often times in our life and career, we have times of growth and times of stagnant, unproductive growth.  Why is that?  Why do we start out of the gate so well and then due to life events, circumstances, surroundings, and culture we fail to pursue our dreams? We fail to see the future as empowering.  What could be! 

Based on these assumptions, I’ve been moved by the concepts I heard in church about 16 months ago.  The topic was, “Being A Pioneer”. In the context I heard it under, it really made me think about the application to my life and career.  From there I’ve brainstormed and came up with my top 10 core rules for success in our profession.  The topic says it all!  “Carving Your Practice – Having A Pioneering Spirit”.  How can we become leaders in our craft?  What sets people up for success?  What allows people to become the best in their field, their craft?  We’ve seen many people in our lifetime that are “Pioneers” in their respective fields.  What’s that secret ingredient they possess?  In an attempt to answer those questions we will look at my top 10 core objectives for “Having A Pioneering Spirit”!

1.  Understand Your Greatness.

There are many examples of great minds, great innovators and people that dared to dream big without fear of failure or what others may say.  What separates people with those traits from you and I?   We can look at a few examples of greatness; people that dared to dream big.  Abraham Lincoln is one of our most iconic Presidents.  We have to remember that he had a huge period of failures between 1832-1858; losing 9 different elections and seeing his fiancé die, before finally being elected as our 16th president.  He had that drive, that pioneering spirit that kept him moving forward.  Kurt Warner is another of many examples that we can look at from the sports perspective.  A quarterback that had seen some success at the college and indoor arena league level but hadn’t found that job or opportunity in the NFL.  He went from working at a grocery store, to make ends meet, to taking a backup role with the St Louis Rams.  Before he knew it, the starting quarterback went down with injuries and he was placed in the starting role.  He made the most of his opportunity, guiding them to a super bowl that season, super bowl MVP honors and continued through his career being an example of pioneering his craft and making every opportunity count.

Do we understand our own potential? Do we understand our own greatness?  What’s your special gift?  This is something every one of us needs to identify. Our greatness is relevant and can be world changing if we constantly strive for carving our practice, for having that pioneering spirit.

2. Be A Pioneer At Home!

In this exciting and dynamic field, most of us are inspired at an early age to pursue some type of career in medicine.  We put our head down and drive forward until we achieve our dream.  Many, if not most of us, are typical type “A” people that focus on progressing our career, obtaining more experience and spend thousands of hours at work.  In addition, this career allows us freedom that most careers don’t, in that we have a lot of time off if we use it.  But do we?  Do we take the time to spend that quality time with family?  Do we pursue the same perfection in making us the best father, mother, husband or wife?  Or do we forget that simple aspect of life?  Are we blinded by our own ambition?  Are we hindered by our own ability to be great at our job and forget to be great at home? 

The answers to those questions are something that I can’t answer for you.  I can say that for me this is profound.  Understanding this has been a huge aspect of growth for me over that past 4-5 years.  It’s really easy to invest in our patients, invest in our careers, but forsake the people closest to us.  Do I think we do this on purpose? No.  But we are blinded by our surroundings, our success and by the aspects of our job that make us desensitized to feeling emotion on the level we should?

If you’ve seen the new movie out about Chris Kyle, “American Sniper”, you may have related to things that they depicted as he came back from his different tours in Iraq.  I know I did.  I’m not making a comparison on his experiences at war. However, I did make a connection to the feeling of being desensitized, of feeling out of place and that my family didn’t understand some of the aspects that we all see on a daily basis.  I remember early in my career feeling this way. I felt uncomfortable being at home, but had a sense of peace being at work.  Why?  How can we overcome those feelings?  Maturity? Communication outlets?  Everyone of us will cope with these things differently.  I see my growth in this area being huge. I don’t feel uncomfortable any longer. I have a great outlet to discuss things that bother me with my wife. With her being in the same field, she understands and allows me the feeling of comfort in being just me at home. 

Being a “Pioneer” at home and leaving your legacy behind is much more important than anything we do.  However, it takes years for many of us to gain insight on this and shift our focus from career success, and peer acceptances, to making a legacy with our husband, wife or children.  What’s your legacy?

3. Fill Your Cognitive Tank.

In everything we do in life we have to fuel ourselves in many ways.  We eat when we’re hungry, we put gasoline in our cars, and we fulfill our need for love and companionship with friendships and relationships.  My question is, do we fill our cognitive tank? 

Think back to when you discovered your desire to become a nurse, paramedic, respiratory therapist or doctor.  What caused that spark?  What moved you?  Why did you immerse yourself in your course work?  That desire for your respective career path drove you to fill your cognitive tank.  I would argue that most of us at some point forget what initially drove us to pursue our careers.  We forget that feeling that made us excited about learning.  We become stagnant in our growth due to life!  Do you have the same drive you once did?  Many of these questions are hard to answer.  As time moves forward and we get older, our past experiences and feelings become more irrelevant.  Can you search your soul and get back that spark?

I think this profession is the greatest.  We truly have the best jobs in the world.  With that being said, we need to continue to pursue more wisdom and fill that cognitive tank.  Medicine is ever changing.  I think this post I saw on “Life In the Fast Lane” FOAMed (Free open access medical education) says it all:

If you want to know how we practiced medicine 5 years ago, read a textbook.

If you want to know how we practiced medicine 2 years ago, read a journal.

If you want to know how we practice medicine now, go to a (good) conference.

If you want to know how we will practice medicine in the future, listen in the hallways and use FOAM, Podcast, and Journals”.

We need to fuel our minds and stay current in our profession. This is a huge ingredient in “Carving Your Practice – Having A Pioneering Spirit”.  Continue to grow your mind and leave your legacy, your stamp on this amazing career path called medicine!

4. Understand Your Significance.

Many of us don’t realize the impact we currently have on our peers, our friends and the patients we treat.  Whether that’s due to humility or the traits that make us perfect who we are, the ability to understand our significance is essential.  How can this be important?  Is this an arrogant statement?  No, it’s the realization of how we can impact others with the gifts we each have.  Our significance in our profession, in our interaction with others, is profound. We each have a special something that is waiting to be apparent and manifest in many forms. 

Does our inability to see our own significance hinder us?  Do we have underlying self-esteem fears that hinder our ability to be significant?  I would say yes, we all have things from our childhood, past or internal demons that may hinder us from realizing our significance.  Our significance is something that can change lives.  If we realized how important we each are to our surroundings, we would all make huge strides in progressing our world.  We can each add something to this world that only you can do.  We just need to understand our ability to make change.  Seeing the significance in each of us will allow our world, family, peers and medical science to gain ground not seen in our life.  We all can make a difference; we just need to have faith that our significance can be that one ingredient to the answer!

5. Reach the Unreachable and Include the Excluded.

The topic of this core objective says it all.  Many of us don’t realize that we can truly impact someone else by just reaching out to him or her in different ways. Many of us in this profession have introvert personalities.  We tend to be type A in our approach to life, but are more withdrawn and stay to ourselves. Is this the perfect personality trait for a career in medicine?  I would say yes, based on the clinical side of things. However, how does that hinder us from communicating with others?   How can we invest in others?  Do we reach out to people that need us? 

I can tell you from my perspective that I’m definitely an introvert.  Even if I get to know you, I still feel uncomfortable in situations with many people, large groups, and tend to stay to myself.  I think this is very common in our profession.  How many of us, however, don’t see that people are truly excluded.  Exclusion happens for many reasons, whether from insecurities, lack of communication, an inability to understand culture or even just pure shyness.  I would argue however that we could change lives in more ways than providing patient care. We can change our peer’s lives by just reaching out to them, asking about their day, their family and investing some time to each person we come in contact with.  Building those relationships will make a big difference in how not only you’re perceived, but may make someone’s day. Remember, we never know how someone’s life is outside of work. Just simply investing in others by making conversation will make a bigger difference in someone’s life than we may understand.  Be willing to invest in others.  Help them with education; help them with problem solving if asked.  Be significant and build up others!

6. Break New Ground – Dare to Dream Big!

So far in this quest to understand how we can “carve our practice” and pursue that pioneering spirit, we’ve laid out 5 points that give us a good foundation in understanding our culture, our significance and how to reach others.  However, one of the biggest ingredients to being that “Pioneer” is to simply dream big.  There’s no substitute for having that dream and stopping at nothing until you achieve it. 

I’ve experienced this first hand.  My idea and conviction to establish some type of platform in the attempt to bring critical care and emergency medicine concepts to nurses and paramedics that don’t get the exposure to those new treatment guidelines was just that…an idea.  I toyed with that for a few years before finally getting the courage to start the FlightBridgeED podcast.  Although scared and unsure if anyone would use the podcast, I finally recorded my first one in January 2012.  FlightBridgeED has now evolved past anything I could have imagined and has blessed and fulfilled things in me that I searched for, a long time.  I never imagined where this would take me or how investing in others can bring so much joy.  The lesson I can bring from this is two-fold.  If you do things in life with a servant heart and without the desire for anything in return, you’ll be rewarded in ways you can’t imagine.  Second, dreams are only dreams until you put those dreams and ideas into action!  Often times, dreams lead to things we couldn’t have ever imagined. While pursuing your dream, you may find yourself in awe at how things just happen effortlessly.  Remember, dreams lead to ideas, and ideas lead to the pursuit of change that leads to movements that can change the world.  Obviously you never start out with that mindset, but it becomes evident very quickly that your investment into your dream and idea will impact lives and invest in others without you even realizing it. 

Do you have a dream?  Do you have a concept or idea that will change lives?  Don’t be afraid of pursuing that dream and sharing it with the world. You never know what will happen or if you’re contributing to something bigger than anything you could have dreamed of. 

7. Don’t Be Isolated – Be Part of Something Bigger Than You.

This topic really goes along with us reaching the unreachable and including the excluded.  It’s really easy to isolate ourselves from growth, either because of our own insecurities or the thought that we have nothing to offer.

We all have things to add to this world. We have objective points of view, ideas and concept understandings that may change how we look at things. You never know how you may impact a situation, point of view or movement.  Being part of something bigger than you will force you to be second.  Always placing yourself second in situations and realizing you’re not the focal point, but just a small ingredient to the overall solution, will truly make you humble. 

Being a part of something bigger than your self may be manifested in many ways.  Is it your dream that may become huge?  Is it something you do to invest in someone else that makes him or her feel special?  Whatever it is, you and only you need to identify your significance and a way you can get involved in something that will change lives. 

The FOAMed (free open access medical education) community is a great example.  From the inception of FOAMed and the pioneers that produced the first open access medical education like “EMCrit” and the “Life In The Fast Lane” blog, these were pioneers in presenting information in a manner that fostered collaboration and sharing of essential new concepts in critical care.  Many of us that followed their example are now contributing to that movement, but they had the initial courage to be a part of something much bigger than them.  They dreamed, put the idea on paper, and put it into action.  Most importantly, they had the servant mindset and established something much bigger than them.

8. Be Ordinary – Be Significant

How were you raised?  How do you attempt to raise your children?  It would be safe to say that all of us attempt to raise our kids to be kind, have values and be productive responsible adults. But how do we teach humility?  Humility is something that is very hard to learn, often times learned by life and mistakes.  How much more productive could we have been early in our life and careers with more humility? 

Being ordinary is not something that means you’re not significant. It means to remain humble in things you do, the interactions and relationships you form and the work you do.  This magnifies the objective of being significant.  You can be significant and ordinary, while making a huge investment in others.

You will always get more out of life, situations and relationships if you take this humble approach to life. Obviously that is easier said than done, but being aware of this concept will allow you to harness those qualities and make the most out of every interaction with someone.  Remember, we may be knowledgeable, may have dreams and may be able to really make a difference in the world, but no one will ever listen if you’re arrogant and self absorbed.  Humility is the secret ingredient to interpersonal relationships and will give you so much credibility if you just employ that concept to life and your career.

9. Don’t Let It Be a Job! – Make It a Passion!

This objective is something that can fit any profession. In whatever profession your in, or for whatever reason you decided to go into your specific career path, something triggered your passion for that field.  Do you remember what drove you to be what you are?  What set that fire?  What allowed you the ability to get through your education and training?  Those questions are important because it reminds us that our job shouldn’t be just a job!  It didn’t start that way and it shouldn’t progress to that state.  It should be a passion.

In the previous 8 core objectives, we laid out multiple areas that build on our ability to “Carve Your Practice”.  How do we do that and still balance our life?  What if you took the stance of putting 150% into every interaction, patient transport, flight, training session, business meeting or relationship you encounter?  Would that make a difference in your growth?  I would say yes! 

Don’t just come to work and make it a job.  Get up every day and be thankful for what you have and the path you’ve taken.  Find that fire that once fueled you to become who you are in your specific industry.  Make your job a passion. Find new things that interest you. Look to other people that may build you up and light a new fire.  Surround yourself with people that won’t bring you down, but build you up and give you positive reinforcement, instead of always being that person that is unhappy and looking for the negatives in every situation.  This behavior doesn’t foster growth and can really act like a virus that spreads through you and a company as a whole.  Instead, be someone that’s positive. Be objective on new concepts and, make those opportunities a platform for growth in yourself and the people around you. Make your passion something that’s contagious and infectious. 

Be passionate about your profession and honor it by working towards perfection.  Be passionate about your career and you will continue to grow beyond what you ever imagined. Remember, you can make the decision to be positive or negative.  It’s that simple; life is what you make it, not a result of circumstance. Make your own path in life, make your own legacy; make it a passion!

10. Take A Breath

This article has laid out 10 core objectives that remind us of the important aspects related to your life and career.  There are hundreds of great core objectives one could apply.  This is just my top 10, the 10 things I’ve identified in my life and career that has shaped me based on my successes and failures.  However, this last core objective may be the most important.  Take a Breath!  Yes, that’s right, just take a breath and rest sometimes.  We are all so driven in today’s world to succeed and build our careers. This often translates to exhaustion and burnout.  Like the person that always brings you down, exhaustion and burnout starts the down hill spiral that leads to that career “virus” that can destroy us and the people around you. 

Understanding your limitations will empower you. This profession has us being part of a culture that has us there in others time of need. Whether day or night, whether it’s in the middle of a storm or disaster, we’re asked to do our job at all times.  Exhaustion is normal and many of us have built ways to cope with such forces. With that being said, we often miss the warning signs of fatigue and burnout.  It’s a great reminder to just rest at times.  Go home, find something you enjoy outside of work and place your mind some where besides your job.  Spend time with family.  Engage your self in investing in your loved ones, not your patients for once. Remember, your kids will grow up before your eyes and gone in a blink. Time moves fast, and you should cherish every second. We should realize that the most. We see tragedy daily, we see lives end suddenly. We see the aftermath of these tragedies, but deflect them and forget to apply those lessons to our family time. Reflect on those lessons; it will free you and allow time to see what’s in front of you.  Make the most out of interactions with your family and take every opportunity spending time just resting. 


Thanks for your time,






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