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Ryan Leak on stage

Inspiring keynoter Ryan Leak offers 6 ways pediatricians can reclaim joy

October 8, 2022

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“In the process of trying to keep all of our children safe, we can lose our joy — the joy we once had when we first got into the business.”

That’s how motivational speaker, executive coach and author Ryan Leak captured the attention of pediatricians Saturday during his lively keynote address “Reclaiming the Joy in Pediatrics.”

Leak shared funny and touching stories of his family and professional life as he roamed the stage, moving the audience to laughter with inspiring messages.

“We often have to give people a permission slip to have joy,” he said, recalling how he has sat across from many top executives of Fortune 500 companies and others who have lost the ability to find joy in life or work.

“I often have to give those people permission … to feel joy,” he said. Likewise, “many pediatricians worked so hard to become successful, but there is no class to teach how to feel joy.”

Reclaiming joy is complicated because pediatrics is complicated, he said to the captive audience.

“Why? … because viruses are complicated. Politics is complicated. Kids are complicated — especially the ones who can’t talk yet. Parents are complicated. They are expecting us to perform miracles.”

Add to that the complexities of work-life balance. It’s sometimes difficult to be a great physician or leader and a great parent, he said.

Even though life is complicated, enjoy it anyway, he said, adding: “People are complicated. Enjoy them anyway.”

He suggested six ways pediatricians can reclaim joy:

  1. Realize that reclaiming joy is no one else’s responsibility but yours. You’ve got to “go get it,” he noted. Most of the top 1% work so hard they don’t get to enjoy being in it. If you don’t reclaim it for yourself, how are you supposed to share that with patients?
  2. Keep a date on your calendar that you’re looking forward to. Whose permission do you need to do something you love?
  3. Be your own biggest encourager. The conversation you have with yourself is the most important conversation you will have all week.
  4. Give others realistic expectations. We have high expectations for others, and they keep failing us. People are human, not perfect. Expect people to disagree with you, to be different from you. There are a lot of things that are different about us, but what do we all have in common? We want to keep our kids safe. It’s the heart of what we’re doing.
  5. Foster a habit of gratitude. We have to be grateful for what we have and who we have. We are all one tragedy away from a different perspective.
  6. Give up complaining for one week. Make a list of what you can and cannot control. Give your best energy to what you can control, and refuse to complain about what you can’t control. That’s how we get our life back.
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