Connecting from the heart

Last weekend, I attended my daughter’s “White Coat” ceremony at Duke University. This signifies the end of Sam’s formal schooling to complete her doctorate in Physical Therapy. Now she has a year of travel to learn hands-on skills from experts in her field.

At the graduation ceremony, small teams presented posters on their specific area of study. Being a bit of a science geek, I went over early to read as many of the studies as I could. They were all cool (i.e. you are just as likely to wipe yourself out with CrossFit as you are with any other high-intensity workout), but the one I liked most was “The Role of TA (Therapeutic Alliance) in Managing Chronic Pain.”

I know that sounds like, “What?” but picture this.

  • You’re assigned to work with a physical therapist to help manage your chronic pain.
  • The PT starts off asking questions not just about your pain but about you as a person.
  • The PT you’re working with is open and is a great listener.
  • You both agree to and commit to a regime.
  • As you start to see the exercises work for you, you build trust with your PT and become further committed to the program.
  • The PT feels and shows empathy as you work together.
  • The therapy is successful not just because the PT was committed to helping you, but because you became committed to the program. In the end, you’re the one who is going to have to do the work. And when you trust the person you work with, you’re more likely to work well together.

What I loved about this scenario is that the school isn’t teaching these students just how to do the work, make the schedule, and complete the follow-up paperwork. They are training students to be successful by being open and by being committed to their patients not as a patient but as a person.

It’s great to be super efficient and to be world-class at what you do. But if you want to get really good at what you do, make a connection with the people you work with or work for. Then you’re not just getting things done – you’re getting them done with heart.

Here are a few shots on my way back up the coast at Longwood Garden’s fountain show. Water + light + great music + full moon. It was a mysterious night!

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I welcome your thoughts and suggestions for future posts!

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