AccountabilityMany of us are familiar with the quotation, attributed to Lao Tzu, “The journey of one thousand miles begins with one step.”

Each one of us participating in STREAM has begun a journey. Ideally, you have thought somewhat about the destination. Are you involved in STREAM because of a personal goal for personal wellness? If so, what area(s) – mental, emotional, spiritual, physical – have you highlighted as a particular focus? Perhaps you already have determined a systems-based goal. That is, you are motivated to pursue personal wellness and leadership advancement, so that you can change our system to be more supportive of the individual physicians comprising it.

If you have been participating in STREAM, you are already on the journey. You have begun to take the steps.

What are some tactics you may use to ensure success? Have you determined a destination? Are you on the right path? How will you know?

None of us go through the journeys in our lives alone. The South African Bantu phrase ‘umuntu ngumuntu ngabuntu’ (usually shortened to the one word ‘ubuntu’) means that ‘a person is a person through other people. ‘ The achievements in our lives that we may own as ‘ours’ truly come about through our relationships with others. We may have aced Organic Chemistry…..and there was the teacher who inspired you as part of that success. We may have made it through an extraordinarily hectic week….and there is the spouse who shouldered the load of childcare to free up some hours for us.

The STREAM journey will be most successful if you are walking it with someone. That is the genius behind the notion of an accountability buddy.

On October 10 I received in my inbox a STREAM email reminding me to make personal wellness goals and establish a relationship with an accountability buddy. Like a wellness “” STREAM did the hard work for me and paired me with this person. We’ve met virtually twice (we have a goal to meet in person within the next few months).

We are a great pair – at different stages of our professional and personal lives, in different specialties, but also with a few shared experiences including our professional home (Nationwide Children’s) and where we trained (Boston).

The journey has already become lighter. There is a real difference, substantiated in psychological and neurological research, in sharing our goals, successes and travails with another. Stating aloud a goal to another makes it more tangible. Admitting mistakes in a supportive relationship is a positive – it represents not failure, but opportunity to try again, perhaps with a different strategy or mindset. Think about your desired destination – where do you want to be in a ‘thousand miles’? Think about the path – is it leading you to your destination? Complete the STREAM personal wellness plan – these are the steps that summed together will get you a thousand miles down the road. And by all means: get an accountability buddy in your journey to greater resilience, engagement and meaning in your profession – you will have greater chance for success if you are not walking alone.

written by James MacDonald