Focus on the spaces

Yesterday, my husband took a ski lesson.  A very experienced skier, he decided to work on some advanced skills.  After skiing over moguls (big bumps of snow that really test your courage and skill – one local magazine commented, “it’s not that you can’t ski bumps, it’s that you can’t ski, and the bumps show it.”) they moved on to skiing in and out of trees, some of which were pretty close together.  Skiing even close to trees causes every muscle in my body to tighten up, as I immediately imagine crashing right into the trees.  As a matter of fact, all I can see are those trees.  But as the instructor wisely suggested, “focus on the spaces between the trees – not on the trees themselves.”

Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 9.13.49 PMIt reminded me of a time many years ago when I was riding bikes with our family. I can still feel my panic as I saw only a very narrow space between two trees in front of me.  Our son told me that if I kept my eyes focused on the path  I wanted the tires to go on, the bike would naturally go there.  As he rode on ahead of me, he turned around and shouted, “Conquer your fears!”  So I did what he suggested, and was amazed when I rode right between the trees, and not into them as I had feared.

How many times do we focus on the trees – the obstacles in our way – rather than on the goals we are working towards?  We’re sure  someone will say no, or we won’t have the time or the skills to make it happen, or it will cost too much. We defeat ourselves before we even begin.   We let the obstacles look so big and scary that we miss the spaces, those opportunities for us to find our way through the trees. But when we keep our goal in sight and continue to be connected to our passion for that goal,  the spaces are easier to see – whether it’s the path we intended to take, or another one that opens in front of us.

What goal do you want to reach?  Why is it important for you to reach it?  Without focusing on why or how it might NOT happen, tell me about the space that will allow you to reach that goal…and then take your first step.  Don’t be too surprised when you see the path open up in front of you.

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About Helane Fronek

Over the past 28 years I have had a fascinating and fulfilling career in medicine, initially practicing as a general internist and then as a procedural specialist, caring for patients with vein disorders. As Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UC- San Diego School of Medicine, I’m thrilled to be teaching medical students crucial communication skills along with many other aspects involved in the practice of medicine.
This entry was posted in physician coach, physician coaching, physician fulfillment, physician work life balance and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Focus on the spaces

  1. Well spoken, Helene…..a great reminder. Thanks.

  2. We all get frustrated by those patients who immediately tell us why they cannot do what we suggest for their health. And then we do the same thing! So we all need the reminder to look for the opportunities that are always available, in one form or another.

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