Last week I attended a day-long work retreat where several coworkers and I brainstormed ideas for moving our department forward to 2020 and beyond.
There were big themes that were bandied about, and one of them was Being Innovative.
A fellow physician for whom I have a lot of respect made a simple suggestion, but it really stuck with me:
Once a year, attend a conference that is totally outside of your specialty. That’s where you get the best ideas.
Attending medical conferences is part of the DNA of being a physician. We’re required to keep up with current medical information and technology, so much that we have to earn a minimum number of continuing education credits every year to keep our medical licensure active.
But, there’s only so much time in the world (time, my biggest luxury!), and I usually spend my allotted travel days going to meetings within my own specialty or sub-specialty (my area of medicine is pretty niche).
Except: earlier this year, I attended a new conference for the first time, and it was centered on medical education and faculty development, a.k.a. self-improvement.
It was great! I came back to work totally inspired and ready to tackle new projects. I had an idea, wrote a grant, got it and started a research project that I hope to present next spring in yet another new conference outside of my immediate specialty. I’m also mentoring one resident and one medical student withthis project to pay it forward and help their careers.
While this anecdote is about work, popping out of your usual bubble works in life, too.
One woman I met at the aforementioned conference told me that every year, she forces herself to take a class that is outside of her comfort zone to learn something new, like the time she studied and then had to perform Stand Up Comedy.
Ok, I want to stretch and inspire myself, not get terrified, which is why you won’t see me signing up for a Snake Handling Seminar any time soon.
However, I’ve had a dream for years to take surfing lessons. I got thisclose to signing up for an all women’s surf school (this one) several times.
What’s stopping me? Nothing. Ok, maybe sharks, but it’s unlikely that this will happen:
(That’s “Sharknado 2,” if you’re keeping track).
So, overall I’m trying to expand my view. Easier ideas on my list than flying off to surf school in Mexico include learning stand up paddleboarding (my friend P. lives right on the water and has offered to teach me many times), reading all of the books downloaded on my iPad – many of which linger because they’re a literary stretch, actually cook the recipes I tear out of magazines instead of leaving them in a pile, and – oddly enough – learning how to make my own fresh mozzarella.
What do you want to do?