President’s Message: Looking forward – What Are Your Hopes and Dreams for 2021?
Happy New Year to all our WSVMA Colleagues! Congratulations…we made it to 2021. Sometimes it might not have looked like we would, but we prevailed through 2020 and now with the New Year comes the possibility of a fresh start…a new day.
Clearly, life has its challenges, but 2020 brought them in abundance. Across our profession, our members and their healthcare team partners have been constantly flexing, adjusting, and pivoting to provide the best possible service and medicine to the patients entrusted to their care. The operating conditions of our world tested every veterinarian, technician, assistant, and receptionist, causing each of us to dig down and respond as best we could. Outside of our practices, research colleagues, educators, and vendors were likewise challenged to adjust and adapt to the changing reality. Caught up in all of this were our clients; those incredible people whose families seek our services for their beloved furry, feathered, or scaled members who needed medical or preventative care. Our agribusiness production professionals were similarly challenged; their life’s work relied on our ability to be available for each of them and support the integrity and well-being of their animals and production systems.
Even greater was the challenge to not lose ourselves in the process of dealing with life in Covid times! While the difficulties of the past year were somewhat unique in recent history, life itself and the world more generally, has always been subject to the laws of entropy. We are constantly challenged to make inputs in both our personal and professional lives to control those things we can control and bring about the most favorable possible outcomes. It has been said that trying times are the furnace in which character and resilience are forged. While our growth in resilience can be supported through the efforts of caring colleagues, mentors, and teachers, much of our resilience and grit are typically learned through those life experiences that test us but do not break us. It is far better that we learn to surf the wave of entropy than to be crushed under it.
As a huge fan of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, I reflect on habits that help people and organizations thrive in a world of challenge. While all seven of Dr. Covey’s habits have value, his second habit, ‘begin with the end in mind’ is one that is incredibly useful in helping people stay on track to achieving their goals. Pandemic or not, in a life that is dynamic and constantly challenging, it is critical to not lose track of the picture of what we are attempting to accomplish with our life’s work.
I believe that the essence of ‘beginning with the end in mind’ can be reframed into one having a noble goal. When we focus on what we really want to accomplish, whether on the smaller scale of our daily life or the grander scale of life achievement, we achieve clarity of purpose. The very best clinicians, researchers, technicians, receptionists I know, possess and exercise this clarity of purpose. It is central to who they are. They have invested time and effort reflecting on the end they seek to achieve, and they have created an indelible image of that purpose that they and every member of their team hold as their most important goal. Every operational or strategic decision is made with consideration of the critical question, “will this move us towards our goal or away from it.” I have a personal goal of lifting others up. Everything I undertake in my personal or professional life is undertaken with the intent of leaving others in a better place. At the WSVMA, we seek to “advance the cause of veterinary medicine to better the lives of those touched by it.” Every decision we make on behalf of the organization is made asking the question, how does our decision position us to better advance the profession for the good of everyone touched by it? What’s your noble goal; what’s your ‘end in mind’?
If you don’t have a noble goal, the good news is that you can invest time in reflecting on what you want to accomplish in your life, your career or your practice and you can identify that ‘end in mind’ that speaks to your soul as a colleague, professional and person. In the end, joy, fulfillment, enhanced collaboration and self-worth all flow from the process of moving oneself and one’s team towards attainment of that ultimate goal. When you feel the positive impact of moving towards that goal and see the impact of your team’s progress on supporting and inspiring others, your self-worth, your fulfillment and even your net worth will also rise. What a wonderful collateral benefit in a world and a profession that has been so severely challenged over these past many months.
Here’s to a year of intentionality and improvement. Welcome 2021.
By Dr. Richard DeBowes, WSVMA President
Posted January 8, 2021