10 Guideposts for Following Your Dreams:
Words of Wisdom from Dr. Rhonda Medows for New Graduates. By Rhonda Medows, MD, Executive Vice President of Population Health, Providence St. Joseph Health
Congratulations, new graduates! By now, you’ve probably heard lots of encouragement to follow your dreams. If you need a few more details on getting it done, here are some tips.
1. DREAM BIG: Most importantly, make sure the dream is indeed your own. After many hospitalizations when I was young, I knew I wanted to help people who are ill or hurt. By the third grade, I concluded that I wanted to become a doctor, although many tried to dissuade me. Some suggested I become a ballerina, which definitely wasn’t my dream.
2. BELIEVE IN YOUR CALLING: Once you know your dream, put your whole self into it. Possess both drive and, yes, stubbornness. I was so stubborn I got into Cornell University at 16.
3. WELCOME NEW ADVENTURES: That said, accept that dreams sometimes change along life’s journey. Don’t be afraid to grab new opportunities even if they don’t look like your original intent. I became the Secretary of Florida’s Health Care Administration, which wasn’t exactly what my third grade self envisioned. However, public service intrigued me, and I took the plunge. Later, I became Commissioner for the Georgia Department of Community Health –another step I couldn’t have imagined, but the path worked for me.
4. SHARE THE ROAD: Also, know that you can dream big, but you don’t have to GO big all the time. I’ve learned you can timeshare leadership. Sometimes it’s just as important to be a team member as a team leader. That Florida job happened when I had a newborn and a growing family. This was a new state leadership role for me at a time of national crisis. I built a strong team of experts and trusted them to lead. It’s a trade-off that can work well in some circumstances.
5. CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES: Another tip for all us “alpha dog” leaders is to choose your battles. Decide what’s really important. I double check my perceptions before doubling down because it’s critical to have all the facts. However, for matters you believe in, make them matter. Be brave, stand up and speak out. We need more strong voices in these challenging times. This is true for everyone and especially female and minority voices which must be heard.
6. COMMUNICATE AND CONNECT: If you’re a natural introvert, some of this information could be intimidating. All I can say is try harder to find better ways to connect and communicate with people. Understand your style and find ways that work best for you when you can. We are social beings who need interactions with others. Seek out people who are interesting and engage. We live in an age where social media makes this easier, although there is nothing like a
good face-to-face conversation. You will be amazed how much you can learn. With the right people, this can be fun!
7. LISTEN AND LEARN: And on the topic of learning, know that it never stops. If you want a powerful job, you must learn what you need to know because that’s your accountability. Ask questions when you don’t understand and build expertise that extends far beyond what you gained from school. Also, time off the job is well spent exploring other topics you want to know more about. Life-long learning produces a well-rounded and interesting person.
8. YOU DO YOU: Ever heard the phrase “You do you?” You are the only person who can shape your image, so engage in self-reflection and become very familiar with who you are at any particular point in time. Be aware of what you’re communicating to others. Rework that resume, put your social media in order, and dust off your reading list. Do this frequently because you are a work in progress who will change throughout your life.
9. DO ONTO OTHERS: On the other hand, it’s not always just about you. You will not raise yourself up by holding other people down. Karma is real, and you cannot succeed by subjecting people to the things that hurt you.
10. ENERGIZE! My last piece of advice is to approach each day with passion and energy. You’ve got to keep your energy charged to lead the charge.
I wish you all big dreams and a big life. Congratulations again.