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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Complicated Past? LinkedIn Can Help. [video]

Let’s say you’re a private equity information specialist. And a dancer. An unlikely pair of professions for one person, yet this is exactly the scenario we addressed recently while giving a talk to dancers about how to develop a wholly representative profile on LinkedIn.

While writing the “headline” on her LinkedIn profile, meaning the space directly under her name, a participant asked if it’s OK to write “Private Equity Information Specialist and Dancer.”

You see, she’s a client of Career Transitions for Dancers, an organization that helps dancers take their first steps toward second careers, because the physical tolls of dancing make it practically impossible to be a lifetime professional dancer.

So how did we respond? We offered that her inquiry really felt like the question “Is it OK to be who I am?” The answer to which would be “Yes, it is. Always.”

A fantastic thing about LinkedIn is the expectation that you’ll have only one profile, because you’re only one person. Also, you’ll synthesize your complicated background into a single headline, and then outline it within the various sections of Summary, Experience, and Education. Creating a profile on the “professional” social network becomes an exercise in identifying the breadth of your achievements and interests, organizing your story, and then revealing yourself in a coherent framework.

Watch how things unfolded, starting at 6:00, below:

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Quit Work, Stay True to Your Self

Staying true to your self includes knowing how you feel about your place of employment and working consciously with those feelings. Your emotions might bring you to spring out of bed some workday mornings, to stay late agreeably, or, in Greg Smith’s case, to quit.

And then write about it in the New York Times.

The former executive director and head of Goldman Sach’s United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa was mad as hell, and not gonna take it anymore.

Among his criticisms:

The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.

I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this firm for many years. I no longer have the pride, or the belief.

I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look students in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to work.

These days, the most common question I get from junior analysts about derivatives is, “How much money did we make off the client?” It bothers me every time I hear it, because it is a clear reflection of what they are observing from their leaders about the way they should behave.

Goldman Sachs today has become too much about shortcuts and not enough about achievement. It just doesn’t feel right to me anymore. Read more

Come Out at Work: As a Person

It  seems so silly; who doesn’t know that you’re a person?

You might not guess the answer.

In a recent article called “Last of the Cave People,” National Geographic writer Mark Jenkins related his experience following the Meakambut, “one of the last cave-dwelling, seminomadic peoples in Papua New Guinea.”  With him was Sebastian Haraha, an ethnographer whose purpose on the journey is described by Jenkins as:

To pinpoint the exact locations of the Meakambut’s caves with a global positioning system. He hopes to register them under the National Cultural Property Act, so the homeland of the Meakambut will be protected from logging and mining.

Noble work! Then after witnessing the Meakambut men and women struggle for survival without much help, Haraha becomes disillusioned with his efforts. Jenkins writes:

He was compelled to temporarily abandon his plan of mapping the Meakambut’s caves—the goal of which is to save their habitat, and thus ensure the continuation of their culture in the future—in order to save their lives in the present. He says the choice was clear. He is a human first, an ethnographer second.

“Protecting the caves? What does it matter—if there are no Meakambut left?” asks Sebastian.

Haraha invokes his humanity first, and his professional role second. Which may be more profound than we realize.

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7 Secrets to Center Your Self at Work [video]

It’s one of the most underrated ways of doing work.

In the course of a day, we tend to chase appreciation and approval of our work, and avoid confrontation and criticism. Problem is, it’s almost impossible to feel secure and grounded when these things come from outside of our selves.

We need ways to feel more centered in the workplace. Webster’s dictionary defines being “centered” as being “emotionally stable and secure.”

What does that mean?

Alicia Graf Mack has an answer. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Company dancer was recently interviewed by William C. Rhoden about the dancer as athlete (video below), and along with Gia Kourlas’s interview in TimeOut New York, we see an outline of Mack’s insight about how to be more emotionally stable and secure on the job.

Here are the dancer’s 7 secrets to center your self at work:

1. You can tolerate pain. Writes Kourlas:

[Mack] suffers from an autoimmune disorder classified as reactive arthritis, which led to swelling and pain in her joints … [She] began teaching dance… What happens when you start teaching? You start dancing again.

Alicia Graf Mack loves to dance so much, she willfully works through her physical pain to do so. Really, for what kind of work would you accept physical pain?

2. You can’t tolerate pain. Read more

Come Out at Work: With Your Biggest Insecurity [video]

Picture it: your biggest insecurity hides in the closet, sitting comfortably out of view. You prefer it this way, yet secretly you wonder what it would feel like if the world knew your inner pain. Then one day, BAM, you let it out at work.

This is exactly what Cassandra Bankson did recently, on the Internet, no less. The self-described model and YouTube guru produced a video in which she appears without makeup; points out the acne on her face, neck, chest and back; then completes her morning makeup routine on screen. The before and after shots are pretty incredible, demonstrating the power of creatively applied foundation.

“Well, showing off comes easy to a model,” we thought. And we were wrong. Bankson acknowledges at the beginning of the video:

Taking my makeup off is one of the most insecure things I could probably do.

Then once it’s all off, she confides, “I feel really disgusting,” and our hearts break for her!

Why does she do it?

We can see many reasons. One, the bulk of what she broadcasts on YouTube is make-up instructional videos, so by coming out she educates the public on how to use makeup to manage acne. Two, by coming forth with something as personal as blemished skin and the insecure feelings it brings, Bankson opens up her inner world, which attracts viewership. And three, in terms of business, the more exposure she has as a model, the more potential for modeling contracts.

About 4 million views (and counting) later, an appearance on Good Morning America, and increased confidence to continue revealing herself without makeup, she seems to be doing better than ever.

You, too, can benefit from revealing your biggest insecurity at work. Drawing people to you helps your professional development, since relationships are resources. And the more resources you have, the better off you are.

As with revealing any part of your inner life, it takes a lot of strength to come out with your biggest insecurity. Going by the looks of things, it’s worth it.

Watch Cassandra Bankson’s reveal below:

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Challenges to Engaging Your Whole Self at Work

A friend of ours, “Karisma,” last month attended a two-day course on lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) issues in the workplace, and left with her head spinning. What happened may surprise you.

She’s a counselor in a New York City high school, and two colleagues attended the learning program with her. We connected when she was somewhat distressed shortly after the seminar; the primary issue, in her words, was:

I tried to ‘come out’ at work during a two day training and it was a disaster for me. Internally I felt so upset I cried all the way to the ferry, obviously not a good look. I’m better now than I was, but I am still thinking about Monday and my re-entry to work.

Like many people, Karisma has preferred to separate aspects of her work life from her personal life, so the struggle to reveal her self to her coworkers is real. Still, by thinking hard about her actions and feelings in the context of her job, she’s well equipped to reap the rewards of revealing and engaging her whole self at work. Let’s look at how the events unfolded.

Karisma relates how the opening go-around began: Read more