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Spring Has Sprung
by Noelle Chapman, PharmD, BCPS, FASHP - ICHP President
I have always been prone to Spring Fever. The itch to clean out the drabness of winter, to refresh and reorganize, to step outside my comfort zone and go somewhere, or try something new. This year I’m taking this concept of renewal to a new level as I recently left my position at an organization I had been employed at for almost 18 years for a new opportunity.
I was fortunate that I was not forced into a situation where I needed to find a new job or was unhappy in my situation. I know this was a luxury and allowed me to assess with my fa
mily what was most important and make choices. Approximately a year and a half ago I had the distinct pleasure to hear Michelle Obama speak at the ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting opening session. (Incidentally, I got to meet her afterwards thanks to my friend and past ICHP President, Todd Karpinski!) The entirety of her authentic, interview style keynote was inspirational to me, however, there was one portion that planted a seed in my mind. An audience member submitted a question asking Mrs. Obama if she ever planned to run for president. Her answer was a strong no for several reasons including family, privacy and politics, but she also said this (and I’m paraphrasing). Sometimes you need to vacate your seat at the table to give others a chance to grow. This concept of providing space for new ideas and opportunity and actively giving up something you earned made me look at my own choices in a different light.
Approximately nine months after my Obama epiphany I was reading Think Like a Freak by Levitt and Dubner. The final chapter, “The Upside of Quitting” addresses the economic outlook for weighing fighting through something versus quitting. Generally speaking, quitting arouses negative connotations. My own upbringing has reinforced this (my mom often teases me that I “quit everything” and uses me giving up ballet at the age of 6 because I had extreme stage fright as an example. She’s joking. I think.) The reality is, however, that we all quit most things at some point. Whether it is sports or artistic activities or unhealthy relationships or jobs, there are many things we need to quit. In my experiences it isn’t knowing that we should walk away that is the issue. It's the actual letting go that we struggle with. There are many parts of my previous role I had a hard time letting go, but I realized that if I took the Kondo approach to my internal spring cleaning I would still be able to hold onto the things that spark joy for me.
Refresh and Renew
I have consistently been a believer in developing people. We all have something wonderful to give if we can only be allowed to see our strengths and determine our true interests. One of the leadership principles that I follow is surrounding myself with people who are better than me. David Ogilvy, the Father of Advertising, once said:
“If you always hire people who are smaller than you, we shall become a company of dwarfs. If, on the other hand, you always hire people who are bigger than you, we shall become a company of giants.”
I choose to surround myself with giants - professionally, personally and organizationally. I have been held up on the shoulders of people who have taught me, guided me, and challenged me. These giants taught me I had a voice and that if I used it effectively, people would listen. They guided me to the belief that what we are doing for pharmacy practice is good, but there is more to be done. They challenged me to stand up as a female leader to be an example. The support of the people around me is not only what made me realize I had to spread my wings but also was a large part of the reason I needed to. I owed it to them to take a new step and refresh how I want to make an impact.
Try Something New
In pharmacy practice there is very little black and white. We have to become comfortable in the gray zone in order to be effective. This is often a struggle with new learners who are learning to tie together all their didactic knowledge with reality. I have often given the advice to residents that they need to become comfortable with being uncomfortable, as this is where there is growth. This should not be a principle for only new learners, however. It is important for us all to evaluate the edges of our comfort in order for us to avoid being stagnant.
As I embark on this change I am reminded that a lot of practicing discomfort is managing emotions: facing your fears of potentially making a bad decision or not being good enough, reminding yourself that guilt is a wasted emotion, and caring so much that it can cloud your vision. Every year I force my residents to read Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson. Despite having read it annually for the last half dozen years, this year, it took on new meaning and I was reminded that every end is a new beginning, particularly if you can work through the emotions of change and not let them control you. One of the ways I am attempting to do just that is by recognizing the areas of my life that are NOT changing. ICHP has been a touchstone for me in this process as I know my network here will keep feeding my roots as I embark on this new adventure.
This Spring I hope you get Spring Fever! Whether personally, professionally or organizationally - challenge yourself to do some spring cleaning, refresh your impact, and be a little uncomfortable. I can’t wait to hear how you grow! ■