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What Achievement 'Balancing' Looks Like

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In my Orthopaedic Surgery, Orthopaedic Medicine, and Orthopaedic Genetic practice it was usual for me to be very busy ("carefully occupied") in the true sense of the word. At one point I was seeing 120 patients a day; supervising 34 employees; actively engaged in surgery; and heavily involved with being an Agreed and Independent Medical Examiner for the state of California (that involved giving testimony in depositions and in court). A typical day included a waiting room full of patients; seemingly every employee needing help with their problems; all sorts of people (e.g. insurance companies) demanding telephone answers about patients; attorneys and a court reported arriving in the waiting room to take my deposition; calling to see if the operating room was ready for me to do surgery; knowing I had to get down town to the court house to testify in a trial of one of my patients; seeing a host of drug detail men and women who would give me a pitch on their products (and I would limit them to three minutes); meeting with "friends" who dropped in; and squeezing in time to eat and go to the bathroom. Meanwhile, it was necessary for me to spend time with my children. Eventually, I had their playground surrounding my office at home so as to be available to them on a moment's notice and then took off every other week so as to be at home or to go on vacations. Saturdays were spent mentoring Black boys and girls. For all this to happen effectively (getting the desired results) required being extremely organized and efficient to the point of working every detail of what had to be done in order to save parts of seconds.

Every reasonably successful Black American has had a great deal of experience in juggling an assortment of things in order to get things done from day to day. The key word around which Balancing for Achievement depends is Efficiency--i.e. doing things quickly and with a minimum of wasted time or energy. The degree of success depends upon ones prior Preparation skills. During residency training it was constant rushing from the operating room to the clinics where I might see 140 children in one morning while dictating the findings to a secretary. To flow with speed but thoroughness required a sound Philosophy of Life. That started forming at age six when Mrs Dobbs, my AME Zion Sunday school teacher, looked at me and said: "God is Love and God is within you." This awe inspiring concept caused Love to become the frame inside which all my choices, decisions, and solutions were made. That frame took shape from developing a work ethic--e.g. learning how to work daily at home as being part of a family unit; for pay (e.g. delivering newspapers, cutting grass, shining shoes); and for the disabled/poor/elderly for free. I had a strong Sense of Completion--once a job was undertaken it was essential to finish it on time. I strove to be a perfectionist (just for fun) by doing an excellent job for everything needing to be done: "If you are going to do a job, do it right." The point was to: "Make Excellence Routine."

Basic to any job was doing it with a Sense of Urgency; getting through ahead of schedule; and then helping others do their job and thus become exposed to a new set of problems that might not otherwise be available. Besides, in the process of helping others I learned how their thoughts led to success or failure as well as learned new tools for decision-making and problem-solving. Out of this rose the practice of always keeping my word and always having an "Alternative" (i.e. other options; Plans A, B, and C). Hence, when faced with unexpected losses, lacks, or obstacles I shifted to Plan B without losing a beat. Set-backs, failures, and people snickering at whatever I was doing spurred me to keep trying in the face of overwhelming difficulties. Creativity developed from getting around blocks people placed on my path. From hard lessons I learned that at the completion of a job to have a place for everything; to make tools again ready; to put things back in their place; and to clean up completely.


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