How to Satisfy a Craving for Creativity

May 6, 2011
Philippa Kennealy MD MPH CPCC PCC

Clinical medicine is becoming increasingly left-brained, organized by evidence-based medicine and guidelines. Any right-brained activities we might engage in are relegated to just a few moments of our day. How then do we then satisfy our natural human craving for creativity in our work?

One of my favorite books is Daniel Pink' s "A Whole New Mind," in which he argues that our left brains are becoming somewhat redundant in the post-information age and that it's time for us to concentrate on exercising our right brains -- to develop whole, balanced brains.

Clinical medicine is becoming increasingly left-brained, organized by clinical pathways, evidence-based medicine and guidelines. Any right-brained activities we might engage in -- for example, the "art" of medical practice and our bedside manners -- are relegated to three or maybe four minutes of the 10-minute visit.

How do we then satisfy our natural human craving for creativity in our work?

In the fall, I'll be embarking on Srikumar Rao’s hugely successful business school “Creativity and Personal Mastery Program” that he now offers to the general public as a "one weekend a month for three months” program. I was excited to be accepted as an applicant, and I very much look forward to sharing some of my breakthroughs and insights with you.

Since there is prep work for this course in the form of plenty of reading, my mind is already bending in this direction.

If it's largely a given that we can't suddenly create a new treatment or invent new surgery on the day that we’re feeling creative in clinical practice, the other obvious places to search for opportunities to express creativity and personal mastery are:

• in the running of our medical practices or businesses;

• in our relationships; and

• in our extramural activities and home lives.

Professor Rao demonstrates in his book, "Happiness at Work," that the experiences of creativity and personal mastery are occurring when:

• we’re in a state of "flow" were we’re unaware of the passage of time due to the depth of our engagement in what we're doing;

• we experience joy and well-being on the job;

• we feel energized and invigorated by our day's activities;

• we experience "meaning" when we reflect upon our work;

• we are undaunted by challenges and obstacles of all sizes. Instead of caving in or going numb and merely existing, we tackle these trials with ingenuity and persistence.

I am accepting the challenge of reflecting deeply upon the question that impacts so many of my clients and, I imagine many of you readers: “How is it possible for physicians and clinicians, whose lives are filled with the minutiae of heavily regulated professional practices, to discover happiness at work?"

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Will keep you posted on my end!

P.S. I'd love to have a couple of you be my Creativity and Personal Mastery Program co-participants, if the program isn't already filled. Please feel free to contact me for more information and how you can get a discount by using my name if you're interested.