I’ve been married for twenty-eight years and have watched the Olympics with my husband ever since. During every Olympic season, my husband will say some version of, “I wish there were gold medals in orthodontics.” Did I mention that he’s an orthodontist? He says something similar during the Academy Awards as well. Is my husband desperate for accolades or real gold medals? Or, is he just trying to stay inspired about work?
I do think that he loves his work and would love to share that excitement with the world. What? You don’t think orthodontics is exciting? Watching the Olympics always leads to our being incredibly impressed with the talent and drive of the athletes. Their love of competition and their sport is contagious. Who of us wouldn’t want a similar experience?
Yet, at least for now, there is no Orthodontic Olympics or Academy Awards, so what’s a tooth-loving professional to do? How can any of us tap into the drive and excitement of Olympians if there is no gold medal at the end of our workday? How can we persist without commercial contracts and Wheaties boxes with our picture on it? Here are a few ideas that aren’t as glamorous as a speech to the academy, but still may be useful to the rest of us normal people.
1. Take risks. Athletes are ultimately risk takers that push their bodies to extreme measures. Maybe orthodontists (and the like) don’t need to push their bodies, but what if taking some risks in marketing, new tools and technology, and patient conversations led to a new level of productivity or income generation? If you don’t take risks in your career, you don’t tap into that Olympic energy!
2. Keep learning. If we don’t grow and learn, then we are going the other way. Learn from others, read, attend conferences, follow blogs and other social media. Any career offers you the opportunity to learn more, and learning leads to confidence, which leads to loving what we do. Olympic athletes learn constantly either through trial and error or from coaches and mentors. That’s how they improve and that’s how we will as well.
3. Visualize it. Have you ever watched Michael Phelps prior to a swimming event? Yes, he makes weird faces and does some Gumby-like arm movements, but he also visualizes himself winning the race. We can all do that, Gumby arms or not. Visualize yourself succeeding at work either on projects, relationships, or outcomes.
4. Ask for that gold medal. Well not exactly a gold medal, but check in with your peers, clients, and supervisors to ask how you are doing. You won’t know if you don’t ask. Ask for constructive feedback, as well as that gold medal. Take that feedback and learn from it. Change comes from doing things differently consistently.
5. Finally, find a way to love what you do even if you don’t think you love what you do. In other words, can you find aspects of your job that make you feel confident and good about yourself? If you can find that, you can leave work every day with positive feelings and motivation for the next day. Negativity toward our work leads to more negativity and vice versa. Find the good in your day and you will feel some aspect of being an Olympian.
It is a bit of a bummer that we all can’t stand on a podium with a gold medal, singing the national anthem, and receiving the love and praise of our fellow countrymen. Yet until the Orthodontic Olympics becomes a reality, maybe we can find aspects of the joy that comes from devoting ourselves to being the greatest that we can be in our own lives. If you really need the Wheaties box with your picture on it, I’m pretty sure you can order one online. Maybe that’s what my kids and I will give my husband for Father’s Day.
Lisa Kaplin, Psy. D., CPC is a professional certified life and executive coach, psychologist, and professional speaker. She helps people tackle that “One day I’ll do this and then I’ll be happy” goal, today. You can reach Lisa at Lisa@lisakaplin.com or lisakaplin.com
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