One Trait You Must Have in Healthcare and Life.
I was 16 years old and being given a car ride to a cricket match by one of my teammates. He was our opening batsman and a good cricket player — I’m guessing around 40 to 50 years old. He started asking about how my education was going. I told him that I was about to sit my GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) exams and was probably going to do sciences for my A-Levels (those are the exams sat by high school students in England).
He acknowledged my ambitions, and then said something to me that I’ve never forgotten: “That’s great, but let me tell you from my experience, that much more so than education and grades, confidence is the most important skill you can have in life.” He then went on to give me some examples of how he believed this to be the case.
It’s funny, I never forgot that conversation, but at the time it didn’t really register in my mind. Certainly not the importance of the point he was trying to make. It’s easy when you are very young to just be living as if you are on a well-defined and preset path. Put your head down, study hard, get a good job, and everything will just fall into place.
While it is indeed crucial to work hard and educate yourself while you are young, one quickly realizes some other harsh realities of life once you get out in the real world. Namely, that education and grades are not enough. Sadly, many crucial life skills are not taught anywhere near enough in school, like how to communicate successfully and manage your finances.
But the biggest one that is not hammered home enough is how to develop your inner confidence, and the simple truth is that lacking in it is going to hold you back in more ways than you could ever imagine.
It has undoubtedly been my observation, from looking around at people that I’ve seen reach great heights and exceed all expectations, that sheer confidence and self-belief have always been at the center of it. I’ve seen people of very average intelligence but with great confidence (and this obviously comes with other skills, like the ability to communicate) excel unbelievably in their lives. And I’ve also seen very high IQ and book smart people, who would ace their exams, have very mediocre careers and never quite reach the heights they aspired to. I’m sure you probably have too.
It’s important to note that by “confidence,” we’re not talking about an obnoxious or huge ego type of confidence — but just a healthy dose that will take you where you want to go (although between the two extremes of over-confidence, or having zero confidence, I think we know what most people would pick).
Obviously, it goes without saying that if you work in healthcare — especially as a physician who is a team leader and makes the final decision — you have to display great confidence if your patients are to have faith in you, balanced with humility and empathy. In fact, no matter what field you are in, this combination will take you far.
I’ll let you into a little personal secret. There was a time in my life where I was pretty shy. I couldn’t have ever imagined writing blog posts that were read by thousands of people, let alone speaking in front of thousands (just a classroom of 20 was enough to make me feel on edge). Perhaps that cricket teammate when I was 16 sensed that I needed to hear his advice — I don’t know.
I’d hazard a guess that most people are naturally closer to the shy end of the spectrum when they are young. There’s only ever a handful of children and teenagers who always put their hand up first or enjoy being on stage! The rest of us have to self-reflect and learn new skills.