Posted by on August 26, 2014 | 0 comments

The Courage to Let Go

In August 2014 I spoke at TEDx Johannesburg, a local version of the global TED conferences. In the spirit of the TED slogan – Ideas Worth Spreading – I chose to speak about an idea that I think desperately needs to spread: the notion that we must have the courage to let go of what no longer serves us if we want to give the world the best of what we’ve got. Of course this is an idea that’s very close to my heart. When I walked away from clinical medicine in 2004 I felt deeply that I wasn’t serving my patients in the way that I wanted to – I was disillusioned, traumatised and burned out, and I didn’t recognise the irritable and miserable person I was turning into. Walking away gave me the distance I needed to recover a sense of wholeness and to recreate myself in a way that makes the most of my skills, talents and interests. It comes as no surprise, then, that the...

Read More

Posted by on August 12, 2014 | 0 comments

The True Nature of Fear

It took a year of dedicated effort for me to write my memoir, Postmortem – The Doctor Who Walked Away. I went through a whole host of emotions during the process of writing the book, from sadness to guilt, to anxiety and ultimately to relief. Ever present in this jumble of emotions was fear – of being criticised and judged, of getting it wrong, of failing. I was afraid of exposing the ugly side of a revered profession. Throughout that year I had the voice of one of my medical school professors playing over and over in my mind. I remembered her as a formidable woman with a permanent scowl etched on her face. I imagined her insisting that I produce scientific evidence for the claims I was making, and proof to validate my feelings. I thought she would tear apart every sentence I wrote and leave me exposed as a liar and a fraud. Fate has a funny way of bringing us face-to-face with our fears. A few...

Read More

Posted by on August 5, 2014 | 5 comments

Are You A Fraud?

“Have you ever had a nagging feeling that one day you will be discovered as a fraud?” ~ Ze Frank Did you know that one of the most common fears we have as human beings is the fear of being found out? It seems many of us suspect we are frauds, pretending to know what we’re doing when in fact we feel as if we’re just making it up as we go along. I was shocked when I first learned that this was a common human concern. I thought I was the only one :-). But why is this so? Why do we think we’re winging life? I think it may be that we are under the illusion that there is a “right way” of doing things that we are yet to discover. And that everyone else knows something we don’t; that they’ve got it all figured out. Here’s the thing: feeling like a fraud is a very disempowering interpretation of a natural consequence of being human. We are...

Read More

Posted by on August 5, 2014 | 0 comments

Always Be Learning

I’ve been going through the times tables with my oldest daughter and I’m amazed how something that feels like second nature to me is so new and mysterious to her. I can almost see the neural pathways in her brain being formed as she tries to remember all the numbers and how they work together. That’s how all learning begins. At first a concept appears foreign, even impossible at times. And then slowly, as information is gathered and actions are taken to entrench the new concepts, they slowly start to take on meaning. Eventually they become second nature, to the point where we can’t remember not knowing them. As children we expect that there’s a lot we don’t know, and we approach each new task as a challenge to be conquered. Yet, for some reason, as adults we feel threatened by new concepts and we resist learning of any kind. I remember feeling very unsettled when I first left medical practice. Not only had I made a major life...

Read More

Posted by on August 5, 2014 | 0 comments

Is There Such A Thing As A Calling?

I’ve been interviewed dozens of times over the past few months and every so often the interviewer would ask whether I felt I had abandoned my calling by choosing to walk away from medicine. After all, being a doctor – like being a priest – is regarded by many as a kind of calling that some of us receive. Did I turn my back on a divine calling? This was one of the biggest questions playing around in my mind over the years. I knew I hadn’t made a mistake by choosing to study medicine in the first place. I wanted to make a difference, to heal and to have a positive impact on people’s lives. Yet I had chosen to leave the profession. Had I copped out? Why then did my decision to walk away feel so right? Here’s what I figured out after years of introspection: we all have a calling. There is a purpose to each of our lives; we are meant to contribute to the...

Read More