Turning pro

May 30, 2014

I'm obsessed with Steven Pressfield's writings. I've mentioned Do The Work before, and now I want to mention the second book in the series: Turning Pro. It spoke to me. In a short 1-sentence summary, the difference between an amateur and a pro: a pro, through hours and years of practice and training, can block out all the clutter and concentrate on the task at hand.

Dr. Ernie Bowling I'm obsessed with Steven Pressfield's writings. I've mentioned Do The Work before, and now I want to mention the second book in the series: Turning Pro. It spoke to me. In a short 1-sentence summary, the difference between an amateur and a pro: a pro, through hours and years of practice and training, can block out all the clutter and concentrate on the task at hand. 

The difference was evident to me on a recent outing when my wife Karen and I took in the opening game of the Birmingham Barons Double A baseball opener against Jacksonville. While the music played over the loudspeakers and the PA announcers whipped the crowd into a frenzy, I watched the players go through their pregame rituals in the outfield. They were oblivious to all the hoopla going on in the stands and around home plate. The platoon players were going through their pre-game rituals: stretching and throwing and running sprints. The starting pitcher was warming up in the bullpen.

Not a man showed the least bit of concern, nor interest, in the events taking place a few yards away. They were preparing to do their jobs, which would start when all the festivities were over. These ballplayers had been here before: they had seen the opening day in high school, college, and semi-pro leagues. I'm sure most if them hoped to see many more opening days, all the way to Chicago and the major league. These men are learning to master their craft, to be professional baseball players. To concentrate on the task at hand and block out all the distractions, whether it be in Birmingham or Chicago.

It many ways, what we do in our practice is no different. We have to block out the extraneous clutter and concentrate on caring for our patients. Running behind schedule? Let it go. Calls from suppliers or insurers? Let it go. Staff having problems? Not important at the moment. Because you are a pro, you know that the only thing that matters at that moment is taking care of the patients who are in your chair. They are there to see you, and they have no idea what pressures you're facing. The only thing that matters to them is that you can tend to their needs at that time. They are not interested in your problems; your ability to solve theirs is all that matters to them. And at that moment, it is all that matters to you because you have spent years training, practicing your craft, and honing your skills to care for that patient in your chair. You can block out all the peripheral, extraneous clutter surrounding you and concentrate on caring for the patient in your chair. You may not hear the roar of the crowd when you hit one over the fence like the baseball player, but you are like him. You, too, are a pro.

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