As I headed to Albany, New York last week to film a 90 minute public television special, as well as 6 hours of additional DVD content that would be included as part of the PBS fundraising pledge package, I knew I was walking into a situation that was completely out of my comfort zone. I so wanted to feel like I was going to just nail it on that television set, that I would get it all perfectly right on my first try, that I would wow everyone with my professionalism and TV chops, that everyone would come to me later and say, “Lissa, you’re a natural!”
So I loaded myself up with expectations, hoping I’d get it right, wanting to impress my producers and please my publisher and all that jazz. Naturally, heaping myself with expectations of perfection only left me feeling stressed and overwhelmed in the months before the film date. And then, suddenly, I was backstage, about to appear before a live studio audience to deliver what I hoped would be a perfect performance. (No biggie.)
Permission To Be Imperfect
Suddenly, inside my head, I heard the soothing voice of Brené Brown (with whom I just did a free teleclass - you can listen to us here). When Brené was about to appear on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, she wrote herself a permission slip, which she hid in her pocket. The permission slip said, “Permission to be imperfect.” So right there, back in the wings, I wrote myself the same permission slip, and when I stood in front of that studio audience, I told everyone to bear with me because I was about to give an imperfect performance.
I then proceeded to royally flub up several times, stuttering over my words and misreading the teleprompter. Fortunately, the special was prerecorded! All I had to do when I screwed up was stop, admit my mistake, and try again. The audience had even been prepped so that if I said the same thing twice, they were supposed to pretend they were hearing my hopefully wise words for the very first time!
What If Life Had “Do Overs?”
After a few mistakes and do overs, I said to the audience, “Wouldn’t life be great if we were allowed to just pause and get a ‘Do over’ in other aspects of our life?” And then I realized I’ve done just that. I married imperfectly - twice - and I’ve now been with husband #3 for almost eleven years. (Do over! Do over!) I wound up unhappy in my job as a practicing physician, so I went through a massive career change. (Do over!) My health broke down because I wasn’t caring for my body or my mind, but I was blessed to get a do over in my health and am now down to half the dose of one of the seven medications I was once taking.
I have been pausing, admitting my mistakes, and doing life over again time after time! And this, I’m realizing, is one of the essential keys to a happy life.
I was about to lead a teleclass in two minutes, when the phone rang.
I could tell by the tone of his voice that something awful had happened.
His name was Dan. He asked if we had a puppy named Bezoar, and after confirming that we did, his voice broke when he confessed that he had just accidentally killed her with his car. He was sitting by the side of the road right behind my house, holding her, waiting for me to come get her.
I bailed on the teleclass, and, heart racing and body shaking, dashed out to Highway 1 to wrap my arms around the 6 month old puppy who just joined the family in July, shortly after our beloved Grendel died prematurely in June.
When I first met women’s financial guru Barbara Stanny, author of Overcoming Underearning and Secrets of Six-Figure Women, she was in the process of researching her next book Sacred Success. As part of the research for this book, she was interviewing 7-figure women, researching whether there were any common trends the rest of us might learn from. What Barbara found is that women who make more than a million dollars have very similar life trajectories that got them from A to B.
The Life Cycle of Seven-Figure Women
When the life cycle begins, the woman is going about her business, living her ordinary life, doing her ho hum thing and usually not earning seven figures. Then something happens. She gets thrust into the life cycle, and a very predictable series of steps ensues. I’m paraphrasing what Barbara told me when we chatted about this, so I’ll use my own words, but in essence, this is her juice. (Hint: Barbara’s work is aimed at women, but I have a strong hunch that this is also the life cycle of 7-figure men!)
With our health care system as broken as it is, it’s easy for patients - myself included - to fall into the role of victim and blame others when things don’t go our way. But are you doing what you can to optimize the kind of health care you’re getting? As both a physician and a patient, I’ve been on both sides of the exam table, and I’ve learned, from personal experience and from my patients, that the best way to get premium health care is to accept responsibility for your health, behave like a respectful but empowered patient, partner with your health care provider, and be brave enough to play devil’s advocate.
Unfortunately, the stereotype of doctor-as-God has permeated much of our culture, and when many patients get sick, they hand their bodies over to the doctor and wash their hands of the whole messy business of the human body. But let me tell you something. Nobody knows your body better than you.
In order to ensure that you’re doing what you can to advocate for the health of your body and those you love, let’s review the 10 mistakes that can cost you your life, so you can learn the tricks for getting the best health care possible.