My Top 10 Reasons to Give Thanks

Philippa Kennealy MD MPH CPCC PCC

Take a minute today and scan your life -- all of it. Your work, your family, your friends, your home, yourself. What do you see there that you are deeply grateful for? I reflected on my life and realized I have so much to appreciate. While I'll keep the really personal stuff to myself, may I share with you why I am so thankful to be an entrepreneurial physician?

Will you do me a favor, right now, please?

Will you pause for one minute, take a deep breath and soar up the 2,000-feet mark to scan your life? All of it. Your work, your family, your friends, your home, yourself.

What do you see there that you are deeply grateful for?

I reflected this morning on my life and realized I have so much to appreciate. While I'll keep the really personal stuff to myself, may I share with you why I am so thankful to be an entrepreneurial physician?

1. The freedom to earn a reasonable income.

I'm horrified to read about people working for a couple of dollars a day and living in unimaginable poverty. I know first-hand from growing up in South Africa just how poorly paid many workers were, and still are. I am blessed to live in a country and culture that fundamentally respects the rights of its workers. Yes, we grumble about the poor incomes of Primary Care docs, and the declining salaries of physicians, but we do have the freedom to strive for fair earnings. And we do see the rewards of our hard work, most of the time.

2. Flexibility.

When I chose to be my own boss with a home-based office, one of its chief attractions was the ability to set my own hours. Since the birth of my coaching business coincided with the birth of my only child, I have been fortunate to control my work hours sufficiently to be at home and available by a reasonable hour at the end of the day, eat breakfast with my family most days, and be able to "touch bases" with my daughter throughout the day from infancy. As a full-time working mom, I haven't missed the major milestones or adorable moments.

3. A physician's work ethic.

Physicians are hard workers. It's tough to be a slacker and make it through medical school, residency and into practice. I'm grateful for the effort and perseverance I bring (almost!) daily to my work, which was carefully cultivated through all those years of learning and clinical practice.

4. A physician's discipline.

Not only are we hard workers, but most physicians are disciplined. We got used to making sacrifices back at an early age. When our high-school friends and college buddies were out partying, traveling the world and goofing off on the weekends, we were hitting the books, memorizing the body parts, and working through the nights on call as medical students and residents. That took a lot of willpower. It's this restraint and determination that I have brought to developing my own business, and that was also nurtured in medical school and residency.

5. The Internet.

Fifteen years ago, my business could not have existed the way it does. I could not have conducted business in 10 ft.² of office space and generated an income using my knowledge, email, the Internet, and a telephone. I marvel at the power and leverage that the Internet provides to a little business. Every time someone contacts me and lets me know they found me through a web search, I rejoice in the extraordinary times in which I live and work. And I bless all my investment in learning to use the Internet effectively to grow my business.

6. The opportunity to create.

I firmly believe that as human beings we have an overriding urge to control and to create. And much of the distress that physicians feel these days comes from a lack of control over how their time is spent at work, and a lack of creativity on the job. I am profoundly grateful for all the opportunities that arise daily to experiment, invent, make up, imagine, strive, test, express, explore, and learn. This experience in turn has enabled me to respond quickly to needs, and hopefully deliver what it is my clients find most helpful.

7. A community of colleagues.

Despite having left clinical practice over a decade ago, I still feel a deep sense of connection to my physician and healthcare colleagues. I'm blessed to live with a physician, socialize regularly with them and serve them daily in my business. I continued to feel deep admiration for this group of people that has responded to a calling, while aching for the frustrations and disappointments that surface from time to time.

I am grateful to you, my readers, my followers, and my clients who take time out of your day to write, comment, digest, make an effort, contribute, and make a difference. I owe you all a huge thank you!

8. Technology.

Imagine lives without telephones, computers, emails and all the technology that supports us in our work, day in and day out. Now, I know a lot of us fantasize about escaping the technology tentacles, but that's because we let it get out of control.

I am personally thankful and thrilled to be sitting here with a headset on talking to my computer while my technology types, connecting to my family, friends and clients over the computer without having to use one dollar of gas, and keeping all my important documents and papers organized because I discovered an application that remembers everything for me!

9. Virtual support.

A home-based business in the state of California has two strikes against it when it comes to employing people -- no space to house an employee, and a tough employment environment legally. However, I could not run my business without the fantastic support I receive from my virtual assistants. These talented self-employed business owners have made it their job to support small-business owners like myself, and I appreciate everything they do for me!

10. The support of my birth and current families.

I was lucky enough to be raised in an equal-opportunity household where a daughter received just as much encouragement as a son. My parents emphasized my education as emphatically as they did my brothers'. I am blessed to have escaped the fate of so many young girls. The current family I have helped create respects and honors my work -- what more could a spouse and mom ask for?

I am indeed most thankful.

How about you?

Happy Thanksgiving!