Scary Stuff! What Challenges Me

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In my last blog, I hinted that I was going to share some of my challenges with you and pull back the curtains on The Doctor’s Crossing.

Yikes!! That genuinely scared me to make that promise. (What was I thinking?!)

It’s scary to think about letting you know I don’t have it all figured out – that change can be hard for me, and I wrestle with my own self-doubt and fears. As a coach, shouldn’t I have this change stuff down?

Yes and (hopefully) no.

I’ve helped hundreds of physicians make changes and have made quite a few myself.

But even thinking about making changes to my business has been kicking my butt!

And that’s precisely why I feel so strongly about sharing this journey with you.

I know some of you are struggling right now with making changes.
I know many of you wrestle with self-doubt and fears too.
Change can feel overwhelming and it’s embarrassing not to be able to figure things out.

If we’re smart enough to be a doctor, why can’t we just solve our own problems?

Let me set the stage for what’s been challenging me…..

9 + years ago when I started The Doctor’s Crossing, I was very excited about coaching and had no interest at all in marketing. I chose not to have one of those email pop up boxes on my website that help you build an email list and reach more people. I said to myself,

“I don’t like those things. They’re annoying. I’m not the marketing type.” Case closed. I went along my merry way and focused on coaching. My business became successful, but on a very small scale.

Unless something changes, when I take my shingle down, the number of doctors I will have helped will just be a drop in the bucket because I can only help one person at a time.

So for a while now (longer than I care to admit), I’ve had this recurrent thought,

“I want to make some changes in my business and help more physicians, but I’m not sure what to do differently.”

This thought kept spinning ‘round and ‘round in my head. Some ideas would pop in, such as:

  • Grow the business and hire another coach
  • Create an online coaching program
  • Offer group coaching
  • Do a podcast
  • Make YouTube videos
  • Try a cloning experiment

Yet, nothing changed. I was comfy in my little coaching bubble.

But then the pressure inside the bubble started increasing. I could see the landscape changing with all the new podcasts, videos, and online courses. Uh oh, I better get on it!

However, when I imagined myself doing these things, I came up with plenty of reasons why none of them would work out.

Bottom line, I was afraid that:

Any model other than 1:1 coaching was not going to work.

If I made an online coaching program, it would take me forever to do, my clients wouldn’t get results, and they’d be angry.

If I put a pop-up email box on my website (to reach more people) everyone would hate it and leave my site.

If I did a podcast, it would be terrible because my voice becomes a creaky hinge when I get nervous.

If I made videos, no one would want to watch me – I’m not as young as I used to be!

If I had to do a lot of social media, it would be too overwhelming.

I could go on…but you get the picture.

It wasn’t all negative. I could get excited about helping many more physicians. I liked the idea of creating a course that made coaching more accessible. And if I thought I could get my voice to behave, podcasting sounded kind of fun.

Yet, I was in a bit of a trap. I call it the 80:20 trap. 80% of my thoughts focused on the potential problems of what I wanted to do. Only 20% were on the possibilities.

It was like I was driving around with the emergency brake on but there wasn’t an emergency.

Looking from the outside in, I completely understand how my “fears” look ridiculous and overblown. And they were not really that extreme, but that is how they could feel.

It’s one reason why it’s so much easier to give someone else advice. “Why don’t you just do x, y, z?” It sounds so logical and often is. The missing piece though is the person on the outside can’t feel the inner conflict that’s creating the inertia.

When I’d had enough of the inertia, I made a “do or die commitment” to try and get myself unstuck. I wrote about it here.  (I committed to a daily meditation practice.)

About two months later, without any big fanfare, I noticed that the emergency brake was off and I was pressing on the gas more. I was moving forward. Excitement was in the air.

How did I get unstuck?

I believe that when we are facing significant external change, we know on a conscious and subconscious level we’re going to have to change internally. We’re going to have to let go of some limiting behaviors and beliefs.

Fundamentally, I think I got unstuck by giving myself permission to try things out and not have to be good at them and to not worry so much what other people might think.

The thought of my fears keeping me from getting to try new things and help more people started bothering me more than the fears themselves. At this stage, I’m starting to explore options and have enrolled in a business coaching program. We’ll see where this takes me. I don’t have to know if anything will work out to just get started. Right?

The time it takes to change may be the time it takes to be ready to face ourselves. We’re ready when we’re ready. And not a minute sooner.

If you feel like you’ve been stuck for too long, don’t beat yourself up. Take a compassionate look inside and see what’s there. You might see a part of yourself that just needs to hear, “It’s going to be OK. You can figure this out.”  If you’d like to download a worksheet to help with moving forward, click here.

In my next blog, on April 3rd I’ll be talking about the concrete steps I took that helped me get unstuck and strategies and tools you can use. And no, you don’t have to make a “do or die commitment” like I did, but I think there is something to it!

Til next time!

Heather

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15 Comments

  1. Andrea Eisenberg on March 13, 2019 at 11:18 am

    Thank you for sharing your journey. It helps to hear that others also struggle in figuring out their path (not that I wish for you to struggle!). I think part of the inertia for me is that the road to change is not linear and is not as clear as the path to becoming a doctor (which is so linear there is no question which direction to go). And for me, this less straight forward path is so difficult, I continually question and doubt that I am doing the right thing.

    • Heather Fork on March 13, 2019 at 9:59 pm

      Andrea, thank you very much for reading and commenting. Yes, I guess we all struggle at different times and if we didn’t we wouldn’t be growing and trying new things. Its true medicine was a straight path, and it did not invite questioning.. And that has its advantages and disadvantages. With this nonlinear path that greets any of us going in new directions, we have to rely more on our own internal GPS. I know you love writing and are a gifted writer. Maybe your writing can help you with your doubts? One of my clients shared this quote by the poet Rainer Maria Rilke with me as it speaks to the fact that sometimes the answers are just not here at this moment for us:
      “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
      ― Rainer Maria Rilke
      I trust you will find your answers!

  2. Elaine Davenport on March 13, 2019 at 2:01 pm

    Heather-
    You are an amazing person to write this about yourself! This is how we move forward against our fears.
    Thank you for all you have done for me and remember how awesome you are!!

    • Heather Fork on March 13, 2019 at 9:38 pm

      You are very welcome Elaine! I’m so glad your transition has worked out for and that you still get to practice medicine, but in a way that works for you. You were with me when I was just starting out and I remember those days with great fondness and getting to you step into your independence and chart your path. Congratulations on all you have done and thank you very much for your most encouraging comments.

  3. Amie Langbein on March 13, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    Thank you Heather! Your vulnerability to share your story here makes it easier for all of us to share our stories; the good parts as well as the struggles. I admire your courage to share the challenges you have encountered in making changes to your business, recognize that it was probably not easy, and know that at least for me, it makes me realize that we are not alone. That’s the nature of change, of shaking up the status quo, of moving from “scary” and “stuck” to “exciting” and then onto full speed ahead, without the emergency brake holding us back. Thanks once again for helping me grow. And I can’t wait to see what exciting changes are ahead for you and Doctor’s Crossing!

    • Heather Fork on March 13, 2019 at 9:10 pm

      You rock Amie Langbein! I am very grateful for all of your kind and encouraging words. I’m glad if my putting my challenges out there is helpful. It’s kind of an odd thing… once I got used to the idea, it really didn’t matter – at least to one part of my brain! It is freeing. That energy that was being used to drive around with emergency brake on can be used to better effect. It is my absolute pleasure to have helped you with your career trajectory. I am super excited about the contributions you are making as a physician coach in the arena of medical student and resident well-being. You are so needed!

  4. Trusandra Taylor on March 13, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    Dear Heather,

    WOW! I greatly appreciate your openness and sharing your story and feelings. It blew me away so to speak and helped me to focus on my own situation and feelings. Although I have followed your blog for about three years now and have appreciated the comments, this is my first time responding.
    I am at a transition in my life and career and can relate to “Scary stuff and what challenges I face”. You have motivated me to follow your guidance involving making changes and commitments. I look forward to continuing to follow you and your next blog post in April.

    Nameste,
    Trusandra

    • Heather Fork on March 13, 2019 at 9:15 pm

      What a dear you are Trusandra! I am thrilled that my message resonated with you and has inspired you to make some powerful changes and commitments. Thank you for being a loyal and reader and for taking the time to comment today. It means a lot to me. I don’t take any of my precious readers for granted.

      Here’s to many wonderful things coming your way with your newfound commitment.

      Namaste to you!
      Heather

  5. Betsy Baker on March 13, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    Good for you!!! As you know, I’ve been stuck a few times. Thanks to you, it has been awhile since I felt that way.

    When I was working in the field of interpersonal violence, the team discovered several “truths” that have helped us all over the years. One is “Straddling the fence as part of transition can be healthy. When it becomes your destination, it can get quite painful!”

    I can’t wait to see what happens next. I know it will be incredible whatever you decide!

    Thank you for letting us ride along,
    Betsy

    • Heather Fork on March 13, 2019 at 9:22 pm

      Hi Betsy! It’s great to hear from you. I love that quote about straddling the fence. It’s perfect! Thank you so much for your most supportive comments. You have certainly done many impressive things in your career and made changes with undaunted courage. I learn from the leaps you and my other clients take. We all learn from each other. Thanks again for the encouragement. So happy to have you on the trail with me.

  6. Sara Taylor on March 13, 2019 at 6:01 pm

    What a great, universal message Heather! Our limiting beliefs hold us back so much from what we – not just want to achieve – but are meant to achieve. Looking forward to the follow up post!

    Best,
    Sara

  7. Heather Fork on March 13, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    Thank you Sara! I really appreciate your reading and commenting. I just signed up for your blog. Looks like you and your physician-husband Colin do a lot to help out other physicians. Keep up the great work!

  8. Helen Rhodes on March 14, 2019 at 11:24 pm

    Thank you Heather!

    I view what you are doing as the trunk of a tree. Those of us who have had the fortunate experience of being coached by you are the branches. In turn, we can coach and mentor others!

    It’s been almost 6 years since I initially reached out to you and my trajectory (while sinuous in its path) is continuing to move forward. Yes, you have to get to the point that you don’t worry so much about what others think, follow your heart, throw many lines in the water, learn quickly from the opportunities that aren’t a good fit and embrace those that are.

    Looking forward to your next blog!

    Best regards,

    Helen

  9. Heather Fork on March 14, 2019 at 11:48 pm

    Thank you so much Helen for your very sweet comments. What great metaphors! The coaching does also feel very circular in that I am learning every day from how I see my incredibly talented and creative clients growing and taking on new challenges. Your own path has been inspiring to me. You ventured out into the unknown to start something new and follow your heart and every time I hear from you, the journey continues to deepen and bring new joys. Congratulations to you.

  10. Carmen Holmes on March 25, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    Transitions are hard, especially the non-clinical ones! Thank you so much for sharing all the truthful and not-immediately-flattering details. As physicians and leaders, we need to be more honest with ourselves and each other about our strengths AND limitations. Thank you!

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The coaching I have had with you has been life changing."

You helped me find the courage to seek out leadership positions and become a medical director as well as a physician advisor. I am grateful we crossed paths and am a different person because of it. You have inspired me to "believe" in spite of my inner skeptic. I consider you one of my most important mentors and am proud to also call you a friend. This says a lot given the apprehension I felt when I took a chance with our first coaching session. Even though I have already made a successful transition, I still value your ongoing mentorship and can enthusiastically attest that the value of your services is tremendous!

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“I was at a crossroads in my medical career. I asked myself, "Do I stay or do I go?" 

I met Heather at the SEAK conference. She and I revisited this question.  Did I want to quit being medicine completely? She helped me to identify my needs, wants, and my vision for my FUTURE, not just in medicine, but in life!!!

She was able to listen to my "ramblings" about becoming a stand-up comic, lounge singer and voice-over actor and translate them into action steps.  I chose to become a composite of all of these. Now I am a more confident, healthier, happier person. I credit this in its entirety to the tutelage I have received and continue to receive from Heather.  She cares. She listens. She was there for ME.  She will be there for YOU!

- Lynette Charity, MD

Anesthesiologist
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“I am forever grateful to Heather for helping me to recognize, I am more than just my M.D." 

Heather helped me understand that I am more than just a doctor and that my experiences in clinical medicine are valuable in so many arenas.  As a result I realized that there are other ways to use my background, still be able to help people and continue to challenge myself and grow.  To that end I discovered coaching - specifically health coaching.  I am on my journey becoming a health coach and truly loving it!

- Gail Miller, MD

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“Thank you, Heather, for helping me transform my career, my faith and my life."

What started out as an initial thirty-minute consultation call turned into an amazing four-year journey that transformed my life, personally, spiritually and professionally. 

Heather helped me to discover my passions...by doing so, I discovered I still had a calling for medicine but it now came from a place of truth...

Today...my wife and I are opening our first concierge medicine clinic in a community we love. I’m actually excited to have the opportunity to practice medicine the way I believe it’s meant to be, with a focus on the doctor-patient relationship and an emphasis on faith. I know if I had not reached out to Dr. Fork, my life would not be where it is at today.

- Steve Lapke, MD

Papillion, NE
Sue Zimmermann

“Heather gave me the confidence to create a new livelihood by following my heart."

She is incredibly knowledgeable about the range of careers available to physicians and provided me with advice and connections which I would not have found on my own.  From the start she encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and try different things.  I was laid off unexpectedly in early 2017, and Heather gave me the confidence to create a new livelihood by following my heart and making decisions based on trust, not fear.  Now I am enjoying working part-time in a clinical setting in addition to teaching and writing.

- Sue Zimmermann, MD

Orthopedic Surgeon
Devki Patel

After months of struggling to find a non-clinical career that matched my values and passion, I stumbled upon Heather's website which truly changed my life."

Heather's insightful and personalized approach to career coaching made me think outside the box since she took the time to evaluate my personality, values, interests, and preferred lifestyle.

Through her encouragement, practical advice, and professional connections, I was able to find a non-clinical position at a state Medicaid agency that aligned with my passion for population health and serving low-income communities. In addition to her coaching sessions, Heather has built a community of like-minded physicians through her blog, and I feel honored to recommend her to friends and colleagues who seek to make positive changes in their professional and personal lives.

- Devki Patel, MD

Pathologist
Jay Macregor

Working with Heather ultimately helped me leave my job in corporate healthcare and find a path that was much more fulfilling."

My career was going reasonably well but I couldn’t shake this nagging feeling I could do better; or at least find a better long-term career fit.  

I was able to find a surgery job that better aligned with my goals and professional interests.  Additionally, Heather helped me start a consulting business which has allowed me to pursue a true passion: helping medical students, residents, and attendings surgeons navigate the challenges of high-stakes standardized exams.    

If you are reading this as a “Type A” surgeon who doesn’t think coaching is for you, I would encourage you to give Heather a shot.  I’m very glad I did!

- Jay MacGregor, MD

Colorectal Surgeon
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“I gained the confidence in myself to develop an action plan that blended the best parts of my experiences and interests into a cohesive career." 

Through our work, I learned to trust myself to make good decisions for my own future – something I hadn’t realized I was struggling with because as an emergency physician, I make life-changing decisions with patients every day. 

By feeding my creativity and interests in other realms of my professional life, I’ve found renewed compassion for my patients and myself, making every shift an opportunity to actually care for people. Thank you Heather. I really couldn’t have made these changes without your help!

- Liz McMurtry, DO

Emergency Medicine Physician
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The simple truth is - Heather Fork totally helped me change my life."

I never would have had the courage to make the changes I’ve made without her unwavering support, wealth of knowledge and commitment. 

When I first started working with Heather, I was downtrodden...I’d been practicing medicine for 20+ years and yet had never quite found my place.  During the first year I worked with Heather, I left the practice I’d been working at, and recreated an entirely new professional purpose.

I’m now an executive and leadership coach, a university professor, and a Brené Brown Daring Way facilitator, and I have never looked back.  I love what I am doing more than at any other time in my professional life and I credit Heather with seeing in me what I was never able to see in myself, until now.

Don’t hesitate, don’t doubt yourself, schedule your time with Heather as soon as possible- she can help you reconnect to your purpose and reinvent your life.

- Amie Langbein, DO

Family Physician
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"After 30 years in academic medicine, I wanted a career change but had no idea where to start. Medicine was all I knew."

I signed up for coaching with Heather and it transformed my life. She helped me get clear on what I wanted my life to look like. We reviewed my skills, values, and strengths. She instilled hope in me that change IS possible after 50 years! 

The outcome is that I have created a life I love! I practice endocrinology part-time and own a life coaching business! Coaching with Heather is one of the best investments I have made in my life. 

- Karen Barnard, MBBCh, MPH

Endocrinologist and Life Coach
modupe

"Heather’s approach was great! She would listen to me and helped me appreciate who I am."

I remember when she said ‘do your resume before our next meeting’, I was about to push back but she gently nudged me along and I’m glad I did exactly what she wanted me to do. We also did interview prep via Zoom and I was offered a great job in UM. She has continued to follow up even after I was offered this job, helping me with pointers about negotiating. I will totally recommend the Doctors Crossing and Heather to anyone feeling stuck like me and looking for a great coach! Thank you Heather!

- Modupe Oladeinde, MD

Family Medicine