Doctors Guided by the F-Word

We expect to get a dose of the facts when we visit the doctor: details of our health, maybe a diagnosis, then a prognosis for the near future, with a swift good-bye. Yet what if these facts were heavily influenced by something less objective?

This happens every time we interact with a medical professional, or with anyone. Because whether we realize it or not, each one of us is guided by that dreaded f-word, our feelings.

In fact, Danielle Ofri, associate professor at NYU School of Medicine, recently shed light on how doctors’ natural feelings continue to influence their work.

We flipped when we first read it! Check out what Dr. Ofri says:

By now, even the most hard-core, old-school doctors recognize that emotions are present in medicine at every level, but the consideration of them rarely makes it into medical school curriculums, let alone professional charters. Typically, feelings are lumped into the catch-all of stress or fatigue, with the unspoken assumption that with enough gumption these irritants can be corralled.

Boo, hiss! Looking at emotions as “irritants [that] can be corralled” is very 2011. So out with the old wisdom; Ofri goes on with the new:

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How Naked Feelings Improve Leadership

Q: When is pain good to feel?

A: When you’re in a leadership position, and you may be avoiding it.

Actually, emotional pain is important to feel any time you experience it, regardless of your position.

In his post called “Why Leaders Must Feel Pain,” Peter Bregman describes the necessity for leaders to embrace difficult emotions, so as to bring humanity to their relationships and effectively elevate their leadership abilities.

Bregman recounts with brutal honesty his experience attending a week-long seminar that prompted some intense self-reflection, emotional release, and the subsequent application to business and leadership.

In revealing his naked feelings in the post, Bregman demonstrates leadership himself. Indeed, we all could have better work lives by connecting to emotions we strive to avoid. Imagine all the additional energy you could direct to accomplishing things, rather than hiding what’s inside you!

How can you feel painful yet life-affirming emotions in the workplace, without necessarily attending a leadership retreat? Keep reading this blog to find out.

When have your painful feelings helped you at work?

Image of Hilda Dokubo via