Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Journey Toward Self-Actualization


Our Annual Meeting in Chicago just ended. Amidst the leadership and business curriculum of the meeting, a key message that lingers is the importance of knowing who you are, and what matters to you.

Pete Athans, the soft-spoken, introspective Everest mountaineer, used the term “self actualization” to describe an important ingredient of rising to a challenge. Barbara Linney asked participants in her Base Camp to quietly write down the whos, whats, wheres, and whys that bring energy and positivity to our lives. Tom Royer, Christus Health's CEO, and Dick Clarke, Healthcare Financial Management Association's CEO, provided a powerful financial analysis of the wave of economic storms that are stalled over the health care industry. They emphasized the importance of a leader’s values, integrity and self-awareness during times of stress and challenge.

My many conversations with both first-time attendees and senior leaders had a similar focus. Each person was ready to move on from the status quo and saw something better ahead. Several said they were attending to acquire knowledge so they could have more professional options as the landscape of health care changes. Most see greater leadership and management roles for primary care physicians, as their numbers shrink and fail to keep up with growing demand. Entrepreneurs are looking at innovations that can “disrupt” the status quo and emerge from the recession as much-needed improvement for consumers and patients. Insurance and pharma physician leaders are deeply engaged in crafting new definitions of their industries.

So, is it more important who you are or what you accomplish? Can you accomplish what you want without defining who you are and what matters to you? Have you done your own personal analysis to understand your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats? My bias is that the journey you undertake to define who you are is the springboard for what you will accomplish in both your professional and personal relationships.

Start crafting your personal mission statement. I’ll share mine with you in my next post, and the process I used to discover what matters to me.

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