Tag

leadership

Jump in with a Smile

If you had a few hours to engage with experienced, high-achieving veterinarians reflecting on their career and providing advice, what would you ask? If you were given challenging advice, would you take it?

I was recently afforded this scenario as part of my state veterinary medical association’s Power of 10 Program. This program, designed to develop young veterinary leaders on the state level, provided me with a golden ticket to the Past-President’s luncheon for the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association.

As we mingled with colleagues and mentors from across the state, it became clear that the roughly twenty previous KVMA Presidents we were dining with were going to leave a lasting impression. Continue Reading

Balance is Key

I’ve always been told that I am an extrovert. Because talking to any number of people comes with relative ease to me, I decided my friends and family were right and so adopted that label as I began to decide who I was. Until attending VLE in June of 2016, I had never doubted that “extrovert” described me in a word. However, a unique opportunity arises when you are put into a situation that pushes you to become very honest with yourself and a group of people you’ve never met before. I suppose it’s a blessing for some and a curse for others; you can be who you really are or invent a completely different person because these people come together not knowing what type of person you are.

By the time puberty hits, everyone knows which kids at school are “outgoing,” “bossy,” and/or “confident.” These are assumed to be the extroverts. I was one of those. The introverts were the “shy” and “quiet” ones. The thing is, regardless of how much time I could spend talking and how many friendships I believed I had, I didn’t realize that this constant buzz of activity was really draining me. I didn’t realize it until some glorious human being at VLE described introverts and extroverts in terms of how they re-energize. All of a sudden, things came together. I knew that I still enjoyed sharing time with people and hearing their stories, but at the end of the day, I wanted to be alone. Whereas throughout college I would feel obligated to go out with my friends for fear of being the “hermit,” at VLE I felt immediately free to decide who I wanted to be. The comfort of being around people who truly care about you but at first don’t know who you are at all was an invitation to reassess myself. The first night there, I went to my cabin and did a puzzle with a roommate. The me in college would have gone to Capone’s to meet everyone else.

Why do I feel guilty about wanting to stay in? Do others feel the same pressure to always be “on”? Is it because I decided to adopt who the people I trust and love think I am without considering whether it truly reflected how I prefer to function? I tell myself it’s indulgent to watch the TV show I like while my good friends are getting together for wine. Sometimes I find myself making excuses relating to work or family obligations when social plans come up because telling someone “I need some time for myself” feels selfish. I think many of us feel the same guilt as professionals or students when we need “me” time but know that others are looking to us as the group motivators, leaders, and organizers. It’s not something that’s easily navigated, but a little self-assessment every day will help me embrace the introvert I really am. With anything, though, balance is key.

Self-listen, self-love.

A Lollipop Moment

Lollipop moments are but small and few. If you don’t know what I’m talking about I suggest you YouTube “Drew Dudley: Leading with Lollipops” (I’ll even include the link in this Blog because I think everyone should watch it at least once). According to Dudley, a lollipop moment is “a moment where someone said something or did something that, you feel, fundamentally made your life better.” My lollipop moment? It came at just the right time.

My name is Chelsea and I am currently a Term 4 (Second Year) DVM student at St. George’s University (SGU), on the island of Grenada. I’m sure you’re all thinking “Holy moly, this girl goes to veterinary school on a Caribbean island? That’s got to be the life!” Sure I live on a tropical island, but I’m still a veterinary student with the exact same course load of any other DVM student studying in the states. I didn’t get out much my first year of school, you could say I was a hermit of sorts. You’d find me pretty much locked in my room spending countless hours going over the physiology behind the cardiovascular system or trying to figure out how the hell you pronounce cricoarytenoideus dorsalis. I often wondered what SGU even saw in me, I was entirely convinced I got in by some mistake. That being said, I suffered constantly from imposter syndrome and was depressed. Everyday I put a smile on my face, pretending that life was good and I was more or less sane. On the inside? I was being torn apart. It was a constant battle of balancing being a DVM student, being thousands of miles away from my family, getting enough sleep, and everything else in between. At the end of the first year, I was seriously considering dropping out of school. Though I was constantly battling my mind, SGU gave me the opportunity to attend the Veterinary Leadership Experience in Post Falls, Idaho. I took them up on the offer, but I felt like I was taking the experience away from someone that would make it in this rigorous DVM program.

I arrived in Post Falls, greeted with applause and smiles. Getting ready to move into small group activities, I spoke with one of my facilitators and referred to her as “Dr.” She stopped right there and said “Oh no, not here. Here I’m Jen.” My other facilitator, Chuck, is a professor at a university and from day one was throwing out hugs left and right. “Okay” I thought, “not exactly what I was expecting.” From this moment on, I was challenged in ways I didn’t think I would be. In the course of a week, I conquered my fear of heights, made lifelong connections with my small group, and learned that never, under any circumstance, should you cut a donut. For the first time in my veterinary career I not only felt my 100% genuine self, but I finally felt like I belonged within this profession. Leaving VLE, I knew I deserved those three letters at the end of my name and a diploma on my wall.

My facilitators and my small group members changed my life. So, I suppose I have two lollipops to “give”. One to SGU, for blessing me with this opportunity and one to VLE, for helping me find myself again and reminding me that I was destined for greatness within this profession.

Drew Dudley – Leading with Lollipops:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVCBrkrFrBE