Terri Hughes Blog

Conscious Choice

Posted on Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Late last year I was asked to work with a neurosurgeon who was having difficulties with management and operating room staff.  Based on the description of his behaviors (and the events leading to this engagement request), I had little confidence that he would make positive shifts.  In fact, I wondered how I'd survive that first meeting.  Fast forward six months, and I'm delighted that this was one of the best, most interesting, powerfully positive engagements I've ever experienced coaching a leader.

Choices and Changes

It's a powerful reminder for me to recognize how I made assumptions based on very few facts and one meeting.  And, to recognize the true power of simple shifts through increased self-awareness.   During the first meeting with this surgeon, he pointed out all the issues and problems caused by others.  He felt justified in simply reacting (and over-reacting) to those difficulties.  His outbursts created ripples across several areas, and netted him an internal reputation that clearly did not serve him or his extraordinary surgical talents.  

The turning point came when he stopped and realized how he needed to be different to create different outcomes.  His willingness to step outside his situation and begin to focus on himself was powerful indeed.  He went on an amazing personal growth journey that allowed him to re-focus his energies on the relevance of each situation and align with his personal values which resulted in a new level of mindfulness and calm.   

Different Choice... Different Result

It's never easy to face the fact that as leaders, we often inadvertently get in our own way.  But we always have a choice on how we decide to show up.   I'm so proud of this neurosurgeon's ability to summon up the courage it took for him to lean into a deeper level of self-awareness, and to let go of the thinking and behaviors no longer serving him.  

Through his weekly journaling, I found myself re-connecting to my own values, which was an unexpected surprise for me.  His deep commitment to his family and spirituality was a strong reminder that our most important priorities can quickly take second place in our busy lives.

Choose to consider these questions:

  • Do I observe myself (objectively) in action to see what needs to shift?
  • As I focus on what could be better, am I sure that what I see as my presenting or obvious issues are the real ones?
  • Am I willing to move outside my comfort zone to explore deeper levels of self-awareness to recognize how my leadership behaviors add to or undermine the results I'm trying to achieve?




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