Death. Stagnation. Complexity

Last week when I was doing my round of listening to Adam Grant podcasts, one of the best episodes I came across was this one from Masters of Scale. Interestingly, one of the bits that got me thinking was the promotion from the sponsor of the episode.

The ad went something like this - there are three main fears all startup entrepreneurs have to face: death, stagnation and complexity. It got me thinking that these fears (or challenges) are pretty relevant to the life of a healthcare professional too.

Many obstacles can present challenges early on for the aspiring clinician which could result in premature professional death. Not getting into a training program. Failing in a training program. Being unable to obtain a secure position. Being unsure about your career path. Personally, I don’t think any of these are insurmountable, but the fear and anxiety associated with ‘falling behind’ your peers is very real for a lot of people that can be hard to shake off (there’s a great section on this in Range).

While I might not buy the whole idea of “falling behind” in terms of career path, I think when it comes to developing your domain expertise its a bit different. The world of healthcare is a lot like that of technology; you might stand still but the world keeps on moving (I feel a Ferris Bueller quote here). Your knowledge has an expiry date. If you’re the type who wants to rest on your laurels, learn once and be an “expert”, then maybe a clinical role isn’t for you (it definitely isn’t good for your patients!).

Some clinicians may fear complexity, but for others it’s where you start getting into the good stuff. Like with most things, the deeper you understand healthcare and your role within the system, the more you realise how messy and complicated it all is. Making sense of this and finding your place in it requires professional behaviours beyond domain expertise. Embracing the beginners mindset of a lifelong learner and remaining open to rethinking both your views and your professional philosophy.

See also: Jack of all trades, master of none…but did he have a growth mindset?, Re(Thinking), The Beginner’s Gap, We need Rogers and Tigers