“I am already very busy, and how can I find more time to learn more?” This is one of the commonest excuses given by some of our colleagues.
In 2005, I was at the peak of my clinical practice. I was teaching at Medical School. I was traveling in India and abroad for academic and not-for-profit assignments. I was also president of the local Rotary Club and organized 365 charitable activities for the club, other than weekly meetings, zonal, and annual conferences. One day the Superintendent of Police was a chief guest for our club program. Before leaving, he asked me to meet at his office when I am free. I met him within two days. That day, he asked me to become the Commandant of Homeguards, an Honorary Gazetted Post, leading one thousand home guards of the district. I refused as I was already very busy. He said, “I know you are a very busy doctor. However, only busy people can squeeze more time to work on subjects close to their hearts. Please accept it. You can manage it.” I had a revelation that day. Later, I successfully lead the force for ten years.
Indian doctors have one of the craziest timings. However, many are busy being busy. Suresh Pandey and Vidushi Sharma recently published an article in the Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, “Doctor, heal thyself: Addressing the shorter life expectancy of doctors in India.” According to them, doctors’ life expectancy is 59 years compared to 67.9 years of India’s average person. The leading cause of such low life expectancy is depression and stress. The Covid-19 has exposed the vulnerability of Indian doctors further. Poor time management is one of the main culprits leading to anxiety and depression.
Unfortunately, time and personal management are not part of our curriculum in our medical schools. During the early part of my career, I realized their importance and made a few amendments to my lifestyle. Two things that helped me learn whatever I wanted to learn or get in my life are a personal vision statement or optimal time management.
In the first year of my clinical practice, the results of Otological surgeries were dismal. During this time, I had an opportunity to participate in a live surgery program of late Dr. A.B Mahadevaiah. His work was like magic, and I was mesmerized by his surgeries. That day I made a goal for myself to be a famous surgeon like him within three years. But, nothing changed and, my results didn’t move even an iota! That is when I was approached by the Rotary International to do a “Free Ear Surgery Project” for poor patients. That day I had another revelation and changed my goalpost. My new goal was to “help many patients through my surgical skills and teach junior colleagues.” Bingo! Within one year, I was demonstrating surgery as invited faculty in a workshop side-by-side with Dr. Mahadeviah. I realized that when we have a broader personal vision statement, the success automatically moves towards you! When your WHY is big enough, you will find your HOW! One of the most popular TED speaker, and the author of the popular book, “Start with why,” Simon Sinek has aptly said, “People don’t buy what you do. People buy why you do it.”
Since then, I started moving in the opposite direction of Abraham Maslow’s expanded hierarchy of needs (Refer to the pic). Starting with “Self-transcendence” helped me achieve whatever I wanted to achieve. Instead of climbing up the hierarchy of needs as most in the world would do, I started climbing down. And climbing down a pyramid or mountain is always a lot easier!
Maslow theorized that self-transcendence is the highest level of living. Living from this plane is achieved when a person focuses beyond the self. A self-transcendent individual sees the world as their responsibility. They work from a place of altruism, spiritual awakening, liberation from egocentricity, and the unity of being. Neale Donald Walsch, the author of the world-renowned Conversations with God series of books, has famously said, “Your life is not about you. Rather, it’s about the lives of every single person you touch. Make an effort to remind yourself of this. When you really get this, when you truly shift and make your life about others, you will never wake up depressed, stressed, or fearful ever again. When you walk into a room with the intention to heal the room, when you wake up with the desire to serve the world, your problems, the negative you feel, disappears.”
These beautiful words have transformed my life and career. I have found this is the way to see abundance in personal and professional life. The day I read these words, I changed my vision and mission statements as follows:
My Vision: I don’t want to be a genius. I want to be a person with a bundle of experience.
My mission: Help others achieve their life’s objectives in my presence or absence!
My Values: Creating value for others.
To put in words of popular motivational speaker Vishen Lakhiani, “Living in this way pulls an individual forward in a way that’s motivating and thrilling and joyful.” At this juncture, I fondly remember the poem “Shining Bright” by one of the few black women who have made it big in America, Lisa Nichols.
So maybe the world didn’t give you permission to be here, but you didn’t ask for it either. Sometimes you have to stop asking for permission, and instead, just give the world notice.
I invite you to give the world notice that you’re coming. Give the world notice that you’ve been here.
Give the world notice that you played polite long enough—now it’s time to play full out.
Give the world notice that unapologetic just showed up.
Give the world notice that non-negotiable just showed up.
Give the world notice that if they can’t handle your light— you’re no longer going to dim your light.
THEY can put on some shades.”
“Because when you become that bold, when you become that audacious, when you become that unapologetic, all of a sudden, you become INFECTIOUS.
All of a sudden, just the mere glimmer of you, the mere glimpse of you, just being in your hemisphere, and your atmosphere, and your zip code causes something to happen to me because I’m in proximity to YOU.
And then you become absolutely aware of the true assignment on your life, that you are here to save us.
You are here to inspire us by the way you walk,
by the way you rise above your own uncertainty,
by the way you push past your religious conversation, your cultural conversation, your economic conversation, your gender conversation,
by the way you show up and say, “How can I serve humanity?”
By the way you recognize that your human spirit is unbreakable,”
“your human spirit is unshakable,
your human spirit is unstoppable.
Your human spirit is simply asking for you to give it a command.
Who will we serve next?
What will we do,
and what mountain will we require to bow down?
And when you get that, and you operate with that knowing, all of a sudden, you become contagious, and people just want to be in your space, and share your oxygen.
Because you make them believe again.
So what is YOUR vision?”
Concerning time management, I have divided my schedule into negotiable and non-negotiable events. My sleep, exercise, meditation, family, and growth time are non-negotiable events. Nothing else can disturb them or steal their time! Now you may ask me where my work schedule is? When we subtract non-negotiable time from the total time, we get work time! Matter of factly a schedule where you can perform all your professional chores. And there are multiple innovative ways of generating extra-time in our 24 hours a day schedule! More at “High Voltage Learning!”