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Doctors at Work Podcast.

Episode #90

How to make creative ideas happen. With David Tamale-Sali

Mat Daniel

24/05/2024

David noticed a problem, got an idea, and brought it to fruition. The result was a book featuring 100 different voices and aiming to improve doctors’ wellbeing. In this episode, we talk about creativity –  we all already are creative. It is important to notice to what excites and frustrates us, and to wake up and bring our whole selves to work. Great ideas might be sabotaged by fear of failure or worrying about what others think, but he advises that we cannot please everyone, and the attitude of trial and error is more important than aiming for perfect outcomes.

In the spring of 2003, David Tamale-Sali [surname pronounced: Tah Mah Lay Sah Lee] attended a surprisingly life-changing lecture, and then four months later found himself kicked out of Medical School at the start of resitting his third year. He then spent the next two decades off the beaten path, having experiences such as summarising patient Medical notes in a GP surgery, selling products on the high street for a Hollywood makeup artist, freelance copywriting, raising a family whilst on benefits, hosting a Franchising podcast, being blackmailed by his Dad into going back to medical school, getting kicked out of Medical school during Lockdown…all while continuing to encourage distressed and frustrated Medics from around the world via email, private forums and his blog at Okaydoctor.net. David is married with 7 kids, a writer/bass player, and an encourager of all who are ready to leave Medicine to enjoy a fulfilling and abundant life. You can get a free copy of his latest project, Medic S.O.S, by going to www.okaydoctor.net/sos

Listen at https://matdaniel.net/podcast/https://open.spotify.com/show/1j8uLaUU1g5bYTRVuwUX7j?si=672ec26a73164d7fhttps://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/doctors-at-work/id1701284564; or watch on www.youtube.com/@dr-coach/videos.

You can find out more about Mat at www.MatDaniel.net. Production: Shot by Polachek

Podcast Transcript

Mat: [00:00:00] Welcome to Doctors at Work. My name is Mat Daniel and this podcast is part of my mission to help doctors create successful and meaningful careers. Today we’re having a discussion about how you make creative ideas happen. My guest David noticed a problem. He got an idea and and then brought it to fruition and the result was a book that features a hundred different voices and aims to improve doctors well being.

In this episode we talk about creativity and we both agree that we already all are creative. It’s important to notice what excites and what frustrates us and to wake up and bring our whole selves to work. Great ideas might be sabotaged by fear of failure or worrying about what anybody else thinks. But David advises that of course you can’t please everybody and an attitude of trial and error is much better than aiming for the perfect outcome.

Welcome, David. Tell me about yourself.

David: Hi, Mat. [00:01:00] Uh, thanks for having me on the podcast. So I’m married. I have seven children and I went to medical school. In 2000, I got kicked out in 2003, and then went to medical school again in 2016 after being blackmailed by my dad to go to do that. So I, and then there was locked down.

So that’s my history with with medicine I’m not a qualified doctor, but I spent the better part of the last two decades plus. In and out of medicine, and along the way, I’m a writer and musician as well, but along the way a big part of what I’ve done has been encouraging and I guess coaching medics who felt frustrated in the system and giving them ideas of what they can do within their jobs, giving them ideas for how they could explore other avenues.

And I’m really excited about helping people just unlock their full potential. [00:02:00] So that, that’s me in the tiniest bit.

Mat: What’s an exciting career. And, and I think we found each other cause you were writing a book and, um, and, um, I saw what you were doing and I contributed to the book as well. And you’ve made that book happen and it is an amazing piece of work.

Can you tell me a little bit about the

David: Yes, it’s called medic SOS and you can get it that. Okay. Dr. Dot net. Forward slash S O S that would be, uh, Sierra Oliver’s Sierra. It’s not so good with that alphabet. Uh, the way it started, I’m on one of the Facebook private groups called medic footprints. So I come across you there.

That’s the first I came across you where you’re encouraging people. And every now and again, just, you know, that’s what I’ve been doing, going to different forums and trying to encourage medics who are just feeling really stressed, really burnt out. And having been kicked out of med school, forced into med school, and you’re surviving [00:03:00] just, you know, all sorts of bits in the medical career, um, of sorts, I’m aware of some of the frustrations that people can feel.

And so I, one of the days I just went on and there was a medic who posted anonymously and this person was just, just what came through was this person is really at their wits end. And there’s quite a being aware of the numbers of medics who’ve committed suicide you feeling depressed feeling that they don’t have an outlet.

So I’m really sensitive to that sort of, you know, the warning signs. So I just immediately just responded with a quick post, free stuff and just walk them through as if I was walking somebody back from a ledge. And just give really detailed practical advice based on my own experience and experience of talking to lots of medics.

And that was really, there was a positive response. So I thought, Oh, wow. I wonder if I, what would happen if [00:04:00] I got the responses from other medics and really the voice was saying, you’re real medics, people who are practicing the front lines. I thought, what if I got all of those and put it into a book?

It’s something I’ve done several times over the years with, with other areas. But I thought, I wonder what would happen if I did that, but rather than just doing it and then saying, ta da, here it is. What I did was I posted that as a question. I just made up a title. I said to the people on the forum, who’d like the comment that I post for the medic, I said, I’m thinking of writing a book, putting together a book called medic SOS, and which has a hundred insights from real life medics.

So you’re going to see their real names, their real faces, the links to where they are online. So you can have a conversation with them. And I’m thinking of releasing this book to. raise 10, 000 for charities that are supporting physicians who are struggling with just burnout. What do you, uh, which charities would you recommend?

And then [00:05:00] there were responses and people say, Oh, doctors in distress, you, and that sort of thing. So just, that was the next step. I thought, okay, the support from this, from the community, not millions of likes, it was maybe 15, 16, but that was enough to just see, is this something that’s resonated with anyone other than just me.

And that was enough to say, yes, it is. So then I took the next step, which was put together a Google form and said, okay, there’s a form I’m ready. I’m gathering, um, contributions. Here you go. And then I just started sharing that all around because I’ve been able to test it within a community, just through a conversation, the way you would with a friend over coffee saying, think about doing this and say, oh yeah.

And just through the actual positive response, that gave me the encouragement to just do it and contact medics everywhere. And I was doing this November time, and going to December. Really bad time to try and get people’s attention. Because one, medics are busy, it’s Christmas, people are winding down the day, uh, the year already.[00:06:00]

But I had people respond really generously and really quickly and I’ve done projects like this before which have taken me over a year. Uh, some of them are still ongoing. This, the whole thing was done within 46 days and we were able to launch the book on Christmas day and I’ve had people since then respond saying, sorry don’t check LinkedIn.

And I say, Oh, thanks for the response. Guess what? The book’s ready. You can see it here at, okay. Yep. Doctor. net slash SOS. And so lots of positive responses. So that’s how it went from just trying to help one person. And then that, like a snowball going down the hill, it just built into getting others involved, getting others involved, building momentum and getting people in the community to.

Mat: And I have to say for me, it’s, it’s an amazing story and I love how it started with something quite small and, you know, identifying that there’s a problem, there’s a need and, you know, there’s one solution that you can offer and how you’ve taken that and created something [00:07:00] that’s ended up being really amazing.

That, you know, that is raising money, um, and has managed to get, you know, a hundred different doctors, um, to, to give you their, their thoughts and opinions. And I think that the topic for, for, that I thought we’d talk about today would be how do you make stuff happen in the NHS? That’s what you did. You had an idea and you made stuff happen.

But maybe if I kind of start at the beginning. is, is, you know, if you think for in this and for other people, how do we get ideas? Where do these ideas come from? Because, you know, often you need an idea, but where do ideas come from? And what kind of a mindset, what kind of a person do you need to be, um, to get ideas that have mileage?

David: Yes, the starting point is, I think it was Einstein who said you can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that caused the problem. And I remember I had a maths teacher when I did A level maths, Miss Atkinson, and she would always, she was really good. [00:08:00] At other math teachers would just throw sums at you and say, do a hundred, um, because I studied in Uganda as well as in Kuwait.

So I’d had a mixture of, of teachers, but she was really good at just saying, in this topic, there are only five types of questions. There aren’t hundreds of questions, there are only five types of questions you could be asked in an exam. And if you’re, they’re really sneaky, there’s a sixth one. The way to solve these, we’re gonna go back to basics, back to fundamentals, and I think that’s when it comes to ideas and making things happen or making changes in your life, I think the problem people can have is they don’t recognize the filters that they have in place, the limiting beliefs they have in place.

They just say, how do I get from where I am to where I, where that is. Um, without changing anything. It’s like, no, let’s start again. So before somebody’s a doctor, they’re a human being. What does that mean? Well, you’re not your appendix, is a way I remember it. It’s, we are spirit beings. [00:09:00] We have souls, minds, will, and emotions.

We live in bodies. And this is something that, Um, I know medics listening to this, you verified it, and I remember seeing a patient die, um, during one of my rotations in Uganda, and the doctors are working, just trying to keep him alive, and then, just remember, just looking at his eyes, and then the spunk just left, and I saw, okay, his body is physically here, they’re still working on it, But the thing that made him a person that’s gone.

It’s left. So when you realize that you are a person, you’re not your physical body, you’re not even your thoughts, you somehow whatever term you want to call it, but that spirit part of you, that’s the really so when you recognize your person, bigger than just the training you’ve had, then it comes down to who are you as a person.

And although this is not philosophical, this is a, these are fundamentals you need to just recognize that the thing that makes you you, the things that annoy you, the things that capture your attention, are You need to pay attention to that. We aren’t, [00:10:00] uh, the systems we train are not really good at teaching us, uh, to recognize who we are as people because they’re not designed for that.

They’re designed to churn out more teachers, more engineers, more doctors, whatever it is. So, that’s important because when you start, when you recognize that your perspective as a human being, as a person is, is valid and important, then the tiny things you’re noticing might be bigger than you realize. And usually when you recognize that it’s not a big thing you’re looking for, it’s just the things that you find curious.

An example of this was Ignaz Semmelweis, just um, I don’t know, 16th century, 17th century, but he was a physician and he noticed that the women who gave birth, who attended to by doctors were dying in childbirth more than those who attended to by midwives. So he got curious and said, you know, I wonder why this is the case.

And he noticed that the, back then the doctors would be going from the dissecting room. [00:11:00] And then going straight to attending a woman who was giving birth, but not so for the midwives. So he, he figured out that something was traveling from the dissecting rooms. to the mid where the midwives were and he was deemed an idiot but it was just a tiny observation when he said there’s something going they said oh really some invisible thing is carrying this a disease through i mean of course now we know about germ theory but he was you know laughed at he was you know putting a mantle asylem and then years later his his observation was valid but all that to make the point that when you recognize That you are a person before you are a doctor or whatever title you are, then you as a human being, what are you noticing, what excites you, what annoys you, what do you think, what do you keep talking about with your friends, with your colleagues, um, or with your mom on the phone or your, you know, Some, you know, skyping with some friends from school saying, Oh, this bit really annoys me.

And not in terms of if you’re in, in [00:12:00] ENT, it doesn’t have to be an ENT thing. Just what thing, uh, you know, what keeps annoying you, what keeps catching your attention, however small, because when you recognize it, same with, as I was saying with the, with medic SOS for me, because of the path I’ve taken, I re I reacted really to the post that was posted anonymously in a way that somebody else who was just.

checking their Facebook feed wouldn’t have. That’s not bad or good. That’s just me. And the same thing is true. There’s no judgment on the things that catch your attention or the things you’re interested in or things you’re really not interested in. But when you start from there, it’s a really cool thing because you have the passion to do something about it.

If you just have the encouragement saying, okay, there’s something it’s important that I explore this. Do a Google search, or ask somebody, or post a comment. Put something on your social media feed, say, wondering about such and such. It doesn’t have to trend, it doesn’t have to go viral, it doesn’t have to bring you any [00:13:00] money.

It’s just, honor the idea that you’ve gotten, and then that will lead to the next one. I think it was Martin Luther King Jr. who said, that don’t try and see, don’t worry about seeing the whole staircase, just take the next step. and the next step and these are things we hear all the time and we know to be true but the things that are easy to do are the things that are easy not to do so it starts with recognizing you’re a person and then the from recognizing that you as a person have things that catch your attention make you think i wonder what that is and then just take the tiniest step In finding taking action in honoring that observation

Mat: that that to me sounds really brilliant and really powerful and it’s, I guess that there’s two things there, you know what what happened in your case was that was that firstly, that you know somebody else might not have noticed, because I think there are there are there are so many of us that go through life and we don’t notice anything.

I don’t think it just does that sound fair do you think there are lots of lots of us [00:14:00] just don’t notice anything in life. I’ll give you an opportunity to disagree with me in a second. No, that’s all right. I think lots of people go through life and, and, and they don’t notice. And that’s probably because it’s, you know, tap, tap, tap on the mobile phones.

You know, I’m, I’m worrying about this. I’ve got that tomorrow. So to where, you know, we, we, we’re busy and we don’t, we don’t, we don’t focus. We don’t notice what’s actually happening. In the moment, whereas, you know, what you’ve outlined is you, you know, you’ve outlined, you notice what was going on for the other person, you know, as well as what was going on for you.

But there’s two things. The first one is you need to notice stuff in general, um, which I think, I think a lot, lots of us Lots of us aren’t focused in time. You know, we worry about the past and the future all the time and we fail to notice what’s right in front of us, number one. Um, so does that idea that you notice at all?

And then number two is, is then about kind of what you said about knowing yourself And what resonates with you and then having [00:15:00] having the insight, but also also the courage sort of to clock that this is what matters to you.

David: Yeah, on the point of noticing, I’ll agree with you to an extent, but what you made me think of was a quotation from Sherlock Holmes, one of my, I loved reading Sherlock Holmes stories.

But when what he was just one story where he’s exasperated with Watson, just not getting something, uh, the famous detective, he said, I’ve just, he said, everyone sees things. I’ve just trained myself to notice what I see. And I think, um, being honest, given that this is doctors at work, the job description is to notice things, but I think people can kind of half show up.

They don’t, they, they show up with a, a stripped down version of themselves. They maybe don’t say the thing that’s there because they they worry what’s going to happen. But I think there’s a so on the one hand, people are afraid. Okay, that’s fine. But [00:16:00] that they notice. No, you know, we have the ability to notice, but we’ve disconnected.

People show up, they go through the motions, but I think you’re doing yourself a disservice. If you don’t show up as your full self, even if you think, oh, it’s just another job, it’s just a this, I’m worried about, fine. And you know, that’s a bit of another conversation. But I think what would happen tomorrow, if you showed up as your full self, in the same thing, not, even if it’s not the job that you love, what would happen if you decided to love your job instead of Trying to find a job that you love.

What would happen if you showed up and said, right, if this was my last day here, what would I do here? What would I say in this moment? And I think you’d find that that energy and that power actually has, doesn’t keep you trapped in it. It gives you, it opens your eyes to more options for changing things.

So I think you’re right in saying that people don’t actively notice things because they’re busy. But I think the pushback is. that it’s not a particularly for for doctors, you’re [00:17:00] noticing things for your patients, you’re noticing all the time. I think it’s just recalibrating and saying, what could I notice beyond my day to day?

Mat: So how do we, how do, how do those people that don’t necessarily people who see, but they don’t notice what’s going on within them or what’s going on around them? How do we move? How does one move to paying attention to what’s actually happening within them as well as around them?

David: Well, a simple exercise which I came across in my third year at Cardiff University.

I read a book by Julia Cameron called The Artist’s Way. And, or maybe it was The Sound of Paper, but one of her books she talks about Two tools, and one of them that was really valuable was the tool called Morning Pages. I don’t know if you’ve come across that, but the idea is you, every single day, you get a notebook and by hand, write three longhand pages by hand, and then that’s it.[00:18:00]

And it could be, you sit down with the paper, with the, your notebook, and you just write an A5 notebook and you just write, I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. You don’t stop until you’ve written three pages. And then, eventually, your brain will get bored with writing, I don’t know what to write.

You’ll write something, which makes you go, Oh, was that in there? Take you 20 minutes or so, same way that people do jog, jogging and so on. But what that forces you to do is it helps you get the noise that’s there where you think, I have to do this, I got to do that. Well, what happens when you sit down and put it on paper?

Then now the noise isn’t in your head and now there’s a bit of space to think. And so you do that. It’s a simple exercise. It’s easy to do. It’s easy not to do. I recommend doing it because what I found was I was able to write my way through problems and you don’t have to be a writer registered trademark or whatever that means to people.

It’s just, you just need to be able to write, which as doctors, you know, you’re having to do a lot of admin. You’re doing a lot of writing anyway. [00:19:00] So you just get a notebook. Nobody reads it. You don’t even have to read it. The act, the importance is not in you reading it or showing it to anyone. The importance is in you writing.

So when you do that, and I say, I think it’s good advice writing on your pen and paper because your paper is not going to give you a notification from Twitter or say you’ve got an email. It’s just, you know, it’s pen paper you write. And I think that simple act will unlock your ability to, because your brain is noticing things all the time.

But we’re just not listening. You know, we’re receiving thoughts. Um, and I think that simple action is enough to interrupt the, now I’m on my phone, I’m plugged in all the time. And you’ll never notice anything other than what your filters on your phone, um, point, point you to. So I think that one is the, there are lots of things you could say on that, but I think that one, if you did that one thing for 30 days, you’d be amazed at how your life transforms.

Mat: I hope you’re enjoying the show. Please click subscribe so you’ll be notified when new episodes [00:20:00] become available. This podcast is part of my mission to help doctors create successful and meaningful careers. You can be part of that mission too by forwarding this show to one person who you think might benefit from listening.

Thank you. Now on with the show. This sounds really creative. to me and I’m loving that. And one of the things that in some of my conversations with doctors I have is that, that, that people that probably were very creative when they were 20 or before they went to medical school, they find themselves being 30, 40, 50.

And just going to work and doing autopilot and all of that creativity, the novelty, the noticing is gone, people turn up, you know, and they do the job, and then they go home and I think lots of people would love to do the kind of creativity that we talked about, but but perhaps they don’t know how to do that.

Um, and I think there’s something about how we’re trained because, you know, we are trained to recognize patterns and we’re trained [00:21:00] to follow guidelines and rules, you know, and all of that is right, but in trying to, in trying to make us, you know, all is sort of into this, this identikit healthcare professional.

The, the problem with that is that, that it’s very easy for some of the creativity to disappear because I’m guessing there’ll be huge chunks of doctors that might listen to this and they’re just going to sort of say, this is just laughable, the fact that I should be writing in the morning. Yeah. Or again, if I give you my example, one of the things I sometimes do in theater, um, I bring picture cards in and I get people to pick a picture card that represents, um, what the team is like or another team member.

And I remember the first time I brought that in and people thought like, Matt’s gone mad. Yeah. Yeah. Why is he getting picture cards asking us to, to, to, to, to, to pick photos. Yeah. But, um, I mean, maybe they still think that, but they enjoy it. They enjoy it. They might think that I’m mad, but they enjoy it.

But I think it’s, it’s, it’s, as doctors, it’s very, [00:22:00] I think it’s hard, to keep that creativity going. And I think we would, we would be better human beings and better doctors if we did consciously try and recreate some of the creativity that you’ve talked about.

David: Yeah. Well, I think, Oh, way to go with this. The, I like that you break, disrupt the patterns when you bring in the pictures, but I think it’s important to see that when we’re talking about being a doctor or a physician, we’re talking, that’s a very different, From talking about being an NHS employee or healthcare, which fill in your employer, your healthcare choice, you know, states, whatever it is, because being, you know, the, the profession of being a physician is millennia, you know, years old, if I say it like that, this is pretty, you know, the, our, our predecessors would be shocked to see how cowed, how lukewarm, how unfeeling as human beings, this bubble, you know, [00:23:00] that prides themselves on we’re being professionals and by not bringing our full human.

No, I disagree because the NHS, it served a lot of people in the great span of human history. It’s hardly been around. Same with schooling, modern day schooling. This is not the standard for what it means to be a physician and not even close. So what I would say is it’s really, you know, wake up your human being.

If you would want to call yourself a physician, physician, Bring your whole self to your, to this interaction with a patient. Don’t make excuses. Show up as your full self. And I’m saying wake up because if some people think that the creativity has gone far away and we need a special training thing, they let themselves off the hook.

But you wouldn’t, you know, we wouldn’t tolerate a doctor who shows up drunk to, you know, to perform surgery and saying, no, this is my authentic self. It’s like, wake up. You’re about to do surgery. You can’t afford to do that. And [00:24:00] that’s really what, when it comes to creativity, it’s, it’s not a special thing that some people have or some people don’t.

Every time somebody is driving towards a yellow light and they have a choice to slow down, Or speed up a little bit. They’re being creative in the moment to say, I’m going to get across to the other side because I, I’ve, without running a red light, we’re always, we’re making creative decisions all the time.

Creativity isn’t writing. You don’t need to do morning pages. You could just, you know, start a podcast. You know, same as you do or call a friend or just, you know, you’re on Instagram, record yourself as you walk to work, just making an observation about what your, your journey is documented. Don’t try and put on a show, which takes time, which you don’t have.

You just talk, you can do, you know, when you make your lunch, if you, if you cut your sandwiches and rectangles, cut them in triangles, where you just did something creative, that’s different. It’s there’s so many opportunities to do things. that are different. So the people, and I think it’s, I don’t think that’s everyone, I think [00:25:00] there may be a vocal minority where somebody may be, but the culture I think really is the feeling that, um, doctors like us do things like this, but if we examined who said that, And who actually believes that if you didn’t talk to people, you find actually nobody actually believes that or if they claim to, they’re not consistent with that in their day to day life.

So I think all of that, a bit of a rant to just say that, you know, creativity isn’t this far away thing that, you know, once upon a time I used to be creative, I used to play the clarinet or whatever. No, you’re a creative being, full stop. Now be creative. Once you realize that, that if you believe you aren’t, of course you’re not going to, that’s going to become a self fulfilling prophecy.

Um, that limiting belief you’ll find evidence for it wherever you go. But when you realize that actually there’s enough evidence in the last hour of each person listening that they have been creative, they chose to listen to, um, Beating Eilish whilst doing their veg prep, uh, they are listening to [00:26:00] a podcast whilst walking the dog, that’s a creative choice.

They’re maximizing the time that they have. These are all creative. It’s creative. It’s just you’re, you’re making something. You’re not just following something that’s been handed to you. The clothes you wore, somebody probably, you picked them out. Probably nobody told you this is what you need to wear. So it’s just, it can seem simple.

But I think in, in, if people think the solution is a far off thing, they let themselves off the hook. And really the issue, they don’t diagnose the real issue. The issue is people might feel afraid. They might feel silly. But when you. Put that aside. Kids don’t worry about that. They just get on with it. And so we think kids are more creative than adults.

They may have more evidence of it, but with all the experience that you’ve had and the knowledge you have, you actually have more Lego bricks to play with than the kids that you’re admiring.

Mat: Yeah. So I love that idea that people already are creative. Um, and that, that I think that there’s value in, in going along with [00:27:00] prescribed ways of working and guidelines, you know, that’s important.

Equally people already are creative. So it’s not That doesn’t need to be a creativity workshop. You know, people don’t need to do a master’s degree in how to be creative because everybody already is creative. And it’s, and it’s, it’s, it sounds to me like what your outline is. It’s a mindset. Yeah. It’s, it’s a mindset that’s the, that says, okay, no, the, these are the things that are interesting.

These are the things that I love doing. And, and this is how I can do things differently, how I can do things and potentially in, in, in all sorts of, um, Um, different ways. And then, you know, our lives become richer as a result of that. And our patient care becomes better as well, doesn’t it? Because, you know, that that’s how innovation and quality improvement happens is through exactly some of the processes that we’ve outlined.

But certainly our careers are better. If we are, if we are able to, as you say, bring our whole selves to work and sort of, and think creatively about how, how we can enjoy work, how we can find [00:28:00] enjoyment, how we can, how we can shape the environment around us in a way that’s enjoyable, you know, and at the same time makes patient care better.

’cause the two things often will go, um, to, um, hand in hand. And I’m interested in this idea of. People then worrying what everybody else thinks. So if you go back to your story, so you know, something happened, you, you notice something in yourself and with that person, you know, you clocked, you know, there was a problem here.

And, you know, and you had a creative idea. How about, you know, I write a book. And then, you know, Presumably, you didn’t worry that what anybody else was going to say, it’s too difficult. It’s too hard. You’re never going to happen. Who are you to pull a book off like that? You just went for it. So tell me a bit more about the mindset that sort of says, who cares what anybody else says?

I’m just going to go for it and see where it leads.

David: Well, that mindset was helped hugely by being kicked out of med school and, uh, the experience of being blackmailed back into it and then leaving it because [00:29:00] there’s a lot of guilt and shame that is part of. The day to day experiences of most doctors that I’ve met and ones where I’ve read their medical notes, the first job I got outside med school, the first time I was kicked out was summarizing patient notes in a GP surgery.

So I’ve gotten the inside scoop from just talking, observing, and when you have the, when I was kicked out of med school, The guilt, the shame, my friends are moving forward, all of that stuff. It was, it was a horrible experience, but I, so I realized I didn’t die when it happened, it was, Oh, I’m still alive.

And somehow I made it through the first year, second year, and life continued. I was still in touch with some of my friends, but the plan, once my plan had, well, the plan I’d agreed with my dad had been derailed. I saw, wow, it’s possible that this thing that I think is just everything. [00:30:00] That’s shattered, but I’m still alive.

Well, if I, if I share an idea and it doesn’t work, okay, next. Nobody’s going to die if I put an idea for a book and nobody likes it or they laugh at me. Okay, big deal. Next idea. And I think that, but where this can be a problem for people is if their identity is bound up in they’re a doctor and the big motivation, the mindset for them being a doctor is the prestige, the, the, the honor, the recognition.

Nobody’s going to make fun of me now because I have this position. So anything that equal looks like. You could be jeopardizing your status of being somebody who’s respected for being an intellectual, who’s not, doesn’t, not indulgent. These are phrases. These are false. These are limiting beliefs that can keep people from enjoying a full experience of life that’s, you know, readily available.

And nobody is going [00:31:00] to make, even if people make fun of you, as I found with the book, with Murder, Cancer, O. S., one of the things I’ve learned is everything isn’t for everyone. And that’s okay. Not everyone likes peanut butter. Not everyone likes YouTube. Not everyone likes And yet, these things have millions or billions of fans for them.

But when you realize that what I’m doing is for someone, so I was not writing a post the first response I gave to that medic. It wasn’t for every medic in every situation who was struggling. It was specifically for this one person. And this one person responded positively. And I think when you do something for someone, that posture is different from if you’re trying to please everyone, which way you end up pleasing no one.

And I think maybe a better approach when you, if you think of, if you’re walking along nearby swimming pool, and if a child fell in the swimming pool and you were there able to help them, you wouldn’t say, Oh, I’m not a lifeguard. Uh, and where’s [00:32:00] the lifeguard? No, there should be. You just rescue them. You know, you do what you can in that moment, and I think that posture of humility, where you say, this idea that I have is actually a gift.

It’s a, it’s a benefit to someone out there. I don’t know who they are, but I think somebody who’s struggling with this, or somebody who likes, you know, paintings of sunsets, would like this sunset idea. That I want to paint. I’m going to paint it and share it. And if somebody comes with a snarky comment or say, why did you waste your weekend doing that?

All they’re saying is, this isn’t for them. They’re not the one I’m looking for. And I think, and as alongside the thing of being creative, I think just the posture of humility and gratitude. We’re alive. We’re living at one of the greatest points in human history. The fact that you and I can have this conversation is amazing.

This was impossible, you know, 40 years ago. 30 years ago, literally impossible. And now it’s possible. We have all this possibility available. Um, we’re [00:33:00] not using it. We’re not using it to its fullest potential. And I think just a gratitude for where we are, the ability to do things, whether we do them or not.

I think that, posture of gratitude, humility, uh, saying, you know, I’m just privileged that I have, you know, I was privileged to be able to help one person. I don’t know who that person is. They posted anonymously and I put something together and lots of people contributed. to a stranger helping me help others.

And so if you’re trying to help others and, or you’re doing something generously, I think that can help people just get started where they realize, you know what, if people laugh, it doesn’t matter. I’m good. This is a gift. You don’t have to, same with this podcast, somebody could say, oh, this podcast is not, it’s, if they like five minute podcasts, this is too long.

If they like one hour ones, it’s, it doesn’t matter if you don’t like it, you know, skip to the next thing. It’s just, it’s a gift. It doesn’t make you a bad person or a good person for [00:34:00] receiving it or rejecting it. You’re just saying this isn’t for you right now. Maybe later it will be. And somebody may listen to this and it’s not for them.

They skip it two hours, two years later, they’re in the right place to hear We’re just sowing seeds, but when they, when they grow up into whatever they’re going to grow up into, that’s not down to us. So I think if you have the posture of just, I think it was Robert Louis, Louis Stevenson wrote Treasure Island, who said just each day is an opportunity to sow seeds.

Just keep sowing seeds, share what you have, notice what you notice, create what you create, do what you can with what you have, connect with somebody else. Use it to connect with someone else and let go of the outcomes. Cause if you build your identity on the outcomes of what you do, you can be really frustrated and you can feel afraid of how can a doctor be doing something like just that stuff.

That’s just there to rob you of enjoying life.

Mat: They’re great tips. Um, when the book was finished then, so tell, tell me about some of the hints and [00:35:00] tips that were in the book.

David: Yes. So the book medic SOS, which you can get at okay. forward slash S O S Sierra, Oscar Sierra. And I read through it and was just blown.

It was just what you’ll find when you, when you go there and you can get a copy of the book and for, you can make a donation, you can pay towards it, or you can get a copy for free. It’s fine. But what I was, what you’ll find in the book is insights from medics around the world, different countries, different experiences.

Some are doctors, some have, are former doctors, some are medical students. So just, it’s really good. But you’ll see their real names, you’ll see their faces, you’ll see links to their social media. platforms, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and so on. And why that’s important is before you even [00:36:00] read anything, just flick through and see who’s there.

You just download the book. Don’t worry about whether you have time to read it. Just literally flick through it. You’ll just see picture, picture, picture, picture, picture. And the message, number one message, which they communicate in the words they share is you’re not alone. And that was, that’s why the book is the way it is.

You can just see those pictures and the thoughts which we can have when we’re feeling overwhelmed, that I’m alone, nobody gets this. That book is hopefully a thing that you can carry around with you, which says No, I’m not alone. And challenge some of those negative thoughts that can have you feeling just, just as if there’s no hope.

But just that one thing of realizing that you’re not alone. There are others who are struggling with the same things, and they’re those who’ve struggled and overcome. There are people who are willing to talk to you. There are quite a number in your coaches like you, Matt, and others. There are people who will, if you will click on their link, you’ll be able to talk to them.

You could book a free call. And just have a, you know, from going from nobody [00:37:00] gets me to you connect with Matt, you connect with some of the others, and, you know, later on that day, you’re having a chat that changes your life. So understanding that you are not alone, that is a false belief. That’s a lie. It’s not true.

Regardless of how it feels, your feelings are lying to you, because what you’ll see in the book is you’re not alone. And why that’s a fundamental thing to understand is when you realize that. you’re not alone, that there are others, then that opens you up to take the next steps that people recommend, which is talk to someone, connect with someone, share what’s going on with you, reach out for help.

It’s not a sign of weakness to get help, it’s a sign of strength. It’s, these are some of the things that were shared in Medic SOS. And those just taking like, as I shared at the beginning, just taking one step after the other, not trying to leap from where you are to where you need to be. Just take a step.

You’re not [00:38:00] alone. Okay, I’m not alone. If you can believe that, or act as if that’s true. Maybe you think, oh, I can’t believe that. But just pretend. Go along with it. Pretend that it’s true. Then if that’s the case, then reach out to someone else, reach out to somebody in the book. That’s what the book’s designed for.

Click on the link, say, read, read your, thank you for your insight in the book. Here’s what I’m struggling with or reach out to one of the coaches in the book. And this is not a plug for them. Nobody’s paying me to say this. Matt didn’t ask me to say this, but that’s why it is. I designed the book. I reached out to different people so that anyone who reads the book can find somebody that they can connect with and somebody who will be able to give them what they need.

And I think that’s You know, that’s when it’s, uh, you’re not alone and connect with somebody else, connect with someone in the book, reach out for help. If somebody wants to change their job or wants to learn how to do their job in a different way, aside from the coaches, they can just look at the career paths.

One thing I loved was looking at the LinkedIn [00:39:00] profiles of the people in the book. Some amazing career journeys where you think, wow, how did they go from med school over the year. to there on Wall Street over there, or they’re scuba diving over here, or they’re an army doctor, and it’s just a, just a fun thing to just get to play with, where just seeing, well, maybe that, because I thought that could be a useful thing somebody could do, where they could say, well, if they could chart their path like that, to end up being, you know, working for YouTube as a chief medical officer, Maybe I could do something like, and those thoughts which say, I wonder if I could do X, Y, Z, those seeds will grow into something.

Mat: And I love the LinkedIn profile idea because it’s so, it’s so illuminating to see what people have done and people careers journey because, as you say, all of us, perhaps there’s an assumption that we’re alone. Or, you know, if I have a slightly unusual career path, I assume that it’s just me, or if I’m feeling a bit stuck and I don’t know [00:40:00] where I’m going, I assume it’s just me.

But the reality is there are lots of people that have had very creative career pathways and have meandered around and lots of people have been stuck. And, you know, and lots of people still are stuck and, and lots of people have overcome it. And it’s just realizing that actually, It’s kind of, it’s a fairly common part of, of, of human existence.

Maybe if I can get us to a close, David, and perhaps if I could ask you to summarize what we’ve talked about, you know, what would be your top tips for doctors at work?

David: My, yes. So the number one thing is realizing it’s normal to feel it’s just you. You’re alone, nobody has your experience, and therefore you can’t talk about what you’re going through.

That’s a normal thing to feel, but it isn’t true. And once you can understand that, and also you are, you are a creative person. You have what you need to live the life you were created to live. You already have it. [00:41:00] So starting by realizing you’re not alone, there’s a community of people. You might be in a toxic environment, but the people in Medic SOS, they’re people, they’re available.

They may not live where you live, but you can send them a message, DM. You could call them. You can, cause some of them have their, their professional numbers on their websites. You can contact and connect with the community of people who You know, they’re for you, they believe in you, and their career paths are available for you to copy if you need to.

So you’re not alone, you are creative, and what you’ll notice right now, the things that bother you, the things that make you think, I wonder if such and such, those observations are not just valid, but they’re important, and we need you to take a tiny step. in seeing how to, you know, following that, follow that thought.

We need you to.

Mat: Wonderful. Thank you very much, David.

David: Thank you, Matt. I enjoyed our conversation. Thanks for having [00:42:00] me.

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