Medicine is challenging. The required skill set is difficult to become competent in, let alone master. That is one of the reasons I was attracted to medicine and then later orthopedic surgery. For me, one of the hardest parts of medicine is bearing witness to the suffering of others. I have reflected on why I keep going back day after day, week after week, year after year to help others. It must be my purpose, which for this discussion will be defined as “the intention to contribute to the well-being of others.”
The Parable of the Three Bricklayers
One of the aspects of purpose is that your efforts or goals will benefit other people. There are different levels of purpose. Let’s consider the parable of the three bricklayers.
Three bricklayers are asked: “What are you doing?”
- The first says “I am laying bricks.”
- The second says “I am building a church.”
- The third says “I am building the house of God.”
The first bricklayer has a job, the second bricklayer a career, and the third bricklayer has a calling. When people are surveyed about identifying with their job, on average about a third of people have jobs, a third have careers, and a third have callings. Which bricklayer do you identify with?
Three Tips for Cultivating Purpose
If you feel that you have a calling, that is great. If you don’t, the great thing about purpose is that it can be cultivated and grown, like so many other things. Below are three recommendations from eminent researchers on purpose.
- Reflect on how the work you are already doing can make a positive contribution.
- Think about how, in small but meaningful ways, you can change your current work to enhance its connection to your core values. This can also be called “job crafting” where you can prune and tailor your current job to better match your interests and values
- Find inspiration in a purposeful role model. It can be someone whose life inspires you to be a better person. Think about why that inspires you.
It’s important to have passion and purpose in our lives. The above steps can help each of us cultivate and nurture our purpose, which can be a foundation upon which to keep improving.
How can we be stewards of our own wellness?
Do you have something to share? Contribute! Email Team@SurgeonMasters.com
Duckworth, A. (2016). Grit: The power of passion and perseverance. Scribner/Simon & Schuster.
About the Author – Ryan Will, MD
Ryan is a board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeon specializing in trauma care. After finishing his orthopaedic residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Hamot in Erie, Pennsylvania, he completed an orthopaedic trauma fellowship at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. When he is not seeing patients or coaching, Dr. Will enjoys hiking, mountain climbing, cooking, and spending time with his family.