By Dr. Jen Quammen
High Performance Living
I’ve (Jen) been thinking about fitness and have some thoughts I’d like to share. Ryan and I have often talked about the difference between fitness and exercise. Fitness is all about function while exercise is about appealing to vanity. With that in mind, here are a few definitions of fitness I came across:
- The condition of being physically fit and healthy
- The quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task
- An organism’s ability to survive and reproduce in a particular environment
The first definition is all about being physically healthy and this absolutely applies to veterinary medicine. If you cannot safely move around a patient and perform the necessary exam and procedures, you are essentially a liability. Our High Performing Veterinary Professionals know that they have to be physically sound. The third definition comes straight from biology where fitness is about passing your genetic material into future generations. Again the parallels to veterinary medicine cannot be understated; first we need people to safely survive in the current environment and then they can consider passing their genes (and passion for animals) into future generations. How many veterinarians or technicians do you know that encourage people to pursue this profession? The High Performers do! They know how to maximize their own potential as well as their team and want others to join us in changing the face of the profession. Are you among the High Performers? If not … you might consider what you can do to change that.
Within a professional setting the second definition of fitness is the one I’d like to focus on the most. The “quality of being suitable” is somewhat open to interpretation. In my humble opinion, you need to believe in yourself before you can even begin to survive in this industry. When you have managed to achieve enough knowledge and experience to do the job with competence then you are surviving. That’s all well and good … but not nearly enough. I want people that are doing more than simply surviving; I want colleagues that are THRIVING. These people are at the top of their game personally and professionally. That will look somewhat different for each individual, but I’d venture a guess we can all think of a colleague or two who fits this description. We all deserve to be and to be surrounded by thriving colleagues. And by “we” I mean all of us that work in this profession, that educate people in this profession, all of us that own animals, our patients, and the public at large. We ARE the EXPERTS in animal health and we need to act like that. Do you know the one simple secret to getting started toward thriving? Take care of yourself before all else.
Now you’re thinking “can it really be that easy”? Yes it can. Taking care of yourself might mean quieting the negativity or uncertainty voice in your head; it could mean getting more sleep or actually taking a lunch break (gasp) during your workday; it could even mean taking a day off, or a vacation. I know, I know. I hear the voices saying “I can’t afford that” or “who will take care of X”. Trust me … it will get managed. We work with competent and compassionate people that are smart and will figure it out … even if you aren’t there for an hour, a day or a week. It might not be done in exactly the same way you would do it, but does that really matter?
Self-care isn’t selfish. I’m not even sure how many times I have said that at this point. Sometimes I’m met with immediate obstacles but I stand my ground on this one. If you aren’t taking yourself as a priority, you are not FIT for this profession. Our goal at High Performance Living is to foster an attitude of self-care, responsible, intelligent and thriving colleagues. We hope you are part of that journey with us and please don’t forget to spread the message to others. We are all kind, compassionate and caring people and our patients deserve for us to be at the top of our game. Thank you for reading, have a fantastic week and we look forward to seeing you at a conference along the way or in a coaching session. We are here to help you achieve your highest levels … our profession and patients need that.