“Success is consciously following your life purpose with clear attainable goals which serve others and inspire you to appreciate every moment of your life.”- John Demartini, author
“She had been an operating room (OR) nurse for a long time.”
Shirley was a tall, blond woman with striking good looks and professional manner. She was in her late forties and an experienced registered nurse (RN). She had been married to Stan for over 20 years and she said they had a strong, stable relationship. They have two children attending university out of province, one in Ontario and the other in British Columbia.
Shirley had been able, during her successful career, to honour her special interest in surgery. She worked with many of the top surgeons! Shirley had a reputation for being smart, quick and calm under pressure. She had been an operating room (OR) nurse for a long time.
But, she had been looking for a new challenge so, she took a position at a larger hospital that specialized in cardiology in a neighbouring city 400 km away. Her father had recently died from heart disease and she thought she would like to explore it more from a professional perspective.
Shirley’s new position was a one year contract so, she had decided to commute to it for now, to see if she really wanted it and if it would develop into something more permanent.
But, after only six months in the position, she quit and returned to her old position. This surprised both her new employer and her old one. Fortunately, her previous administrator was glad to have her back…had missed her and her skill set.
“I still don’t know why I quit.”
Shirley was painting a pretty rosy picture of her career and indeed, her life. So, I asked her what was going on that would get her to give me a call.
She replied, “Ken, I’ve had a very successful life. I have a close family, good health and a successful career. So, I’m still not sure why I didn’t stay in that new position in the cardiac unit. They were so nice to me. The facility had the latest in everything. It was like a dream job. But, I only lasted six months. I still don’t know why I quit.”
“What did you tell them when you left?” I asked.
“Oh, I said it was due to the travel involved! Then, of course, they offered to extend my contract to three years to make it easier for me to commit to relocating. But, I respectfully declined their kind offer and still quit.” she replied her confusion evident on her face as she contorted her 43 facial muscles to create it perfectly.
“Was there a lack of support at home from your family?” I asked wondering what was going on that was generating so much anxiety.
“Not at all. Stan was very supportive. Even talking about the upside to living in a bigger city. And, the kids thought it was cool as it would put them a little closer to us and make their travel easier when they came home.” Shirley replied.
Still searching I asked, “Did you find the commuting too strenuous?”
“That’s kind of what I told them, but it wasn’t that really at all. That’s also what I told my employer here, when I returned. But, it’s not really true. I know it was the right move but I’m struggling to figure out why…does that make sense at all, Ken?”
“Yes, it does, Shirley. It sounds like you are unclear about what a successful career means to you and how it’s connected to your purpose and values.”
“I think success for me has always meant helping others, being part of a team who gets the job done effectively.”
“Share my learning to serve others!”
We spent some time uncovering Shirley’s Life purpose and her top four values. It took up the rest of that first session. When she returned we picked up where we had left off.
I said, “So, let’s review what we’ve uncovered so far, Shirley. Did you double check the words for your life purpose which were, ‘Share my learning to serve others!’?”
“Yes, I think it’s a good fit and doesn’t need any more polishing…at least for now!” she replied.
I went on, “And your four highest values are: your work, your health, your family and your learning. Are they accurate?”
“Yes, they are right on, too!” she replied.
“OK, then this information should help you understand any behaviour you display. Let’s go back to the moment, really the exact second when you decided you were going to go back to your previous position. Where were you exactly, when was it exactly and who was present besides you?” I asked.
“At the end of the day, you are solely responsible for your success and your failure. And the sooner you realize that, you accept that, and integrate that into your work ethic, you will start being successful.” – Erin Cummings, actress
“… as if I had accused him of malpractice…”
Experience has shown me knowing precisely the when, where and who were critical for her to understand her own behaviour. I knew it had to demonstrate both her purpose and her highest values. The challenge was to find out specifically how.
Shirley paused for a full moment. She even closed her eyes for a bit and leaned back into the chair.
Finally, she said, “I was in the operating room at my new job. We were doing a pretty standard stent placement in a 50 year old man, who had been in good shape but still had an artery with a 90% blockage. So a stent was the preferred protocol given all his health variables.”
“What happened, Shirley?”
“The operation went fine and after someone wheeled the patient out to recovery, I approached and asked the attending surgeon if there was a special reason why he had not also put a stent in another artery with a 40% blockage. He looked at me as if I had accused him of malpractice and walked away without saying a word. I was shocked and surprised by his reaction to my question…I thought I was there to assist and to learn.”
“Then, what happened?” I asked.
“… that was just the last straw!”
Shirley continued, “In the changing room, one of the other nurses who had witnessed the exchange between myself and the surgeon, came over and told me in a conspiratorial whisper, we are not to question the actions of the surgeons…we are there to just do our job. It was at that second that I said to myself…I’m done here! I’m going home!”
“Had something happened before this to make this event a turning point for you?” I asked, wondering why she was so upset with an arrogant doctor, given her professional experience in the medical community.
“Ken, that was just the last straw! I had been noticing for some time how the culture of that hospital had the surgeons on a pedestal and the nursing staff well below it. I was used to colleagues, regardless of their role, eager to help each other learn. I was expecting strong team camaraderie. It just wasn’t there in that surgical unit. That’s when I knew I needed to go home!”
“Shirley, given your highest value…your work…can you see why you decided to leave that job and return to your previous one?”
“It makes perfect sense now!” she replied.
Then she continued, “Working here I feel respected and a valuable part of the surgical team unit. We often consult with each other regardless of the role the person plays on the team. It is a much more open learning environment where I feel cherished for whatever I can offer to my colleagues. We usually use first names. It’s like a family really and I feel like I belong. It’s a totally different work experience here…one I will not sacrifice.” she said empathetically.
“Can you see how your decision also reflects your life purpose, ‘‘Share my learning to serve others!’?” I asked.
“Yes I do! It makes total sense to me now.”
“Shirley, can you also see how your success is not determined by anyone or anything outside of you? Instead it’s tied directly to your life purpose and highest values.”
“The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you.”
– Tony Robbins, author
“…my success will not be designed or determined by others, but by me!”
“Yes I do now, Ken! So, how do we get caught up in thinking success is defined by others?”
“That happens when we try to live by someone else’s values in order to get their approval. This often happens when we lack clarity of our own values and self confidence to be who, we know, we are.”
“Are you suggesting taking the job in the cardiac unit helped me clarify my highest values?” Shirley asked.
“What do you think?”
“I think it did…now that I understand it. I also realize I appreciate more the job I already had and the people I already worked with here.” she added.
“So, my next question is, do you regret giving that new job a try for six months? Was the awareness and appreciation you gained worth the cost to you?”
“Looking at it this way, I know, there was no mistake in me doing it. It was worth it to me, Ken!”
Then she added, “And, from now on I can use my life purpose and values to ensure my next decision is in line with them.”
“So, you have two of the secrets to your own success…your purpose and highest values, eh?”
“From now on, my success will not be designed or determined by others, but by me!”
“There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.”
– Christopher Morley, actor
Until Next time…
Now you know you define your own measures of success. Your criteria is your life purpose and your highest values. If you use anyone or anything external to you to define your success you cannot be genuinely successful. So, uncover your life purpose and highest values right away so you can start seeing your real success in your life today.
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Our next seminar is entitled, “How to Bring balance to Life and Purpose to Work!” It will be on Saturday, March 25th, 2017. Details are available at www.kenpiercepsychologist.com
Send us your feedback and topic suggestions…we love to hear from you! If you have a specific question or wish to schedule a consultation, feel free to contact me.
Namaste, (I salute the grandly organized design of the universe, manifested in you!)
Be well…balanced! Ken
Further information: www.kenpiercepsychologist.com