I sat in the patients' lounge and waited for 20 minutes for Larry to emerge from his office and invite me to join him in his office. It was late on a Friday afternoon, the time he had assured me he would be most available and free from interruptions. That’s because Larry was a highly regarded neurosurgeon and had established himself in his specialty and geographic market for more that thirty years.
Photo: Courtesy of Wix Media
As we settled down in this center of his world, his medical practice, he said to me, “What do you want to talk about? I’m going to be honest. The only reason I’m meeting with you is because Pat suggested that I meet with you.”
I looked him squarely in the eyes, smiled and said, “It's impressive that Pat has such remarkable influence with both you and me. The only reason I’m here is because Pat seems convinced that you could use my help. Why do you think he has that opinion?” He immediately adjusted his gaze away from me as he confessed, “Pat thinks maybe you could help me as I prepare for retirement.” And he proceeded to describe himself and his situation.
He shared, “I’m a maverick. Ask anyone in the hospital and they’ll tell you that they laugh and make jokes about me and my issue with time. They ask the patients what time did your doctor say he would be here? And when the patient tells them the time they expect me, the medical staff reply, ’Don’t plan on it. He‘ll be with you 30-60 minutes late. He always is.’ And it’s true. I’ve always had an issue with time. I seem to go into a time warp and lose my sense of time. It’s been a problem even at home with my wife and family. In fact, it’s the reason I chose neurosurgery.”
And with that, Larry proceeded to give me the backdrop to his struggle and the reason Pat recommended our meeting. It was Larry's first year in high school when he realized that his issue with being late could be detrimental to his future. It was only half way through the first semester when he was summoned to the principal’s office and reprimanded for his attendance. The principal had told him,”Larry, you’re only 50 per cent through your first semester and you have already broken the school record for lateness in an entire year! This is a major problem. Unless you change quickly, your tardiness is going to affect your academic performance and your ability to make it in the world of work.”
Larry looked at me directly and said, “That was the moment I knew I had to find a profession in which I couldn’t be penalized because of my issue with time. That’s when I began to explore the “in-demand” expertise for which people would wait. What I discovered was that neurosurgeons, and really good ones, held such a position. So, I decided in high school that I would align myself with the teachers and courses that could help me excel and prepare me to be an outstanding neurosurgeon.
He continued, “amongst the ideas that were cemented in my mind were the prerequisites for excellence in the field of medicine. I was told that becoming really good with three “As” was essential for extraordinary success in neurosurgery; you needed Ability, Affability and Availability. I dedicated myself to maintaining those As.”
He added, "But now, I'm preparing for retirement and I'm concerned that they may not be sufficient for success in this next phase." My friends tell me that I shouldn't wait until I stop working before volunteering. They are of the opinion that the world values you less when you're no longer actively engaged in your profession. "I've built a successful career, I have the finest homes and automobiles, I have traveled the world and lived a great life. But now, I want to have meaning when I stop my work as a surgeon."
There he was, finally confronting the void. It had become evident that a successful life extends beyond the precipice of work. For Larry, there was a need to give attention to other facets of his life that he had given little attention. The alternative, he recognized, was to live his retirement years devoid of rich, stimulating relationships and pursuits that would provide meaning and enjoyment.
That's the reason Pat had connected us. And that was the basis for our work together. Here he was, a self-proclaimed maverick who had performed and achieved at the highest levels of medicine. Now, rededicating himself to perform and achieve at the highest level of the human experience. So, we engaged as partners in defining success anew. And explored what would be required for him to continue to live successfully. As you might imagine, we explored matters of health, family, social connections, purpose, spiritual growth, and new educational frontiers.
Of great significance, Larry had built a successful career because of his willingness to acknowledge his flaws and take action to compensate for them. His recognition of his "time warp" had led him to seek guidance and instruction that equipped him for neurosurgery and career success. Now, his recognition of his "social warp" led him to accept guidance and coaching that have supported him for healthier relationships with family members and social networks, and to live more successfully beyond his career.
Renwick Brutus' career has spanned roles as research economist, investment advisor, entrepreneur and consultant. He holds an MBA from Fordham University and has been recognized for his outstanding achievement in sales and business leadership. Today, Renwick applies his unique blend of business strategy and interpersonal skills to help individuals prosper and companies grow. He owns multiple companies and is in great demand to consult with business leaders. Contact him by email and LinkedIn .