It is hard to believe that I graduated from the NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine 20 years ago this week. Being that it’s a big anniversary year, I have been thinking a lot about what I have learned in the last 20 years of being a veterinarian. Here are four things I wish I had known when I graduated from veterinary school.
1. Enhance your emotional intelligence
You have spent the last 4 years cramming all kinds of useful and not so useful facts into your brain. There is no doubt you will need to have a certain level of competence to succeed as a veterinarian, but what may surprise you is that your intellectual intelligence will have relatively little bearing on your success compared to your emotional intelligence. Honestly, if you made it through veterinary school, you have enough intellect, but a better indicator of long-term success has to do with how emotionally intelligent you are.
Emotional intelligence is your self-awareness, your self-management, your people radar, and your people skills. These often are thought of as “soft skills.” This is not a subject that is talked about much in the veterinary world, but is definitely what separates the mediocre veterinarians from the ones that seem to have more clients than they know what to do with.
The wonderful thing is, emotional intelligence can be developed. There are books you can read (“Enhancing Emotional Intelligence” and “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” are two great ones,) and there are workshops you can attend (The Wolfpack Leadership Conference and Shawn McVey’s workshops are two great examples.)
The important point is, if you want to be successful in all areas of your life, you must embrace improving your emotional intelligence.
2. Get out of debt ASAP
Debt is a huge weight on your back. Debt will keep you from pursuing your dreams and living the type of life you want to live.
Don’t buy into the hype that “educational debt is good debt.” It is not, and that is a myth that gets perpetuated year after year. I know-your student loan debt seems like something you may never get paid off. You can and should get it out of your life as soon as possible, but this will never happen without a plan! Dave Ramsey is a financial guru who has changed my life, and I highly recommend picking up his book “My Total Money Makeover” and enrolling in his very affordable 9-week class “Financial Peace University”. Don’t wait on this one-get the book today!
3.Begin with the end in mind
It is easy to get caught up in your first job and be so overwhelmed by the choices you have to make. But this is the ideal time to spend a little time figuring out what makes you tick and what your particular strengths are. The DISC assessment and “Strength-Finders 2.0” are great places to start. The more you understand your strengths, the better you can leverage those strengths to create the life you want.
An invaluable process, I have gone through the last 3 years (and wish I had done it 10 years ago) is the creation of my life blueprint. This has allowed me to put down on paper what truly matters most to me and to create actual practices to ensure that I living the life I want to live.
You need to take time and figure out what you want out of your life and a life blueprint is a great place to start. CatalystVETS can help you with this! (coaching opportunities- where they fill out a form)
4. Find a mentor or a group of mentors
Andy Roark spoke about this in an interview (interview part 2 on april 13, 2014) I did with him last year and I agree 100%. Expecting your new boss to be the only one to teach you all you need to know is unrealistic and honestly unfair to expect given all the stresses a practice owner already has. That being said, you can be mentored in a lot of different ways including by people you may never meet by reading their books, reaching out to people on social media, attending workshops and by joining a mastermind group like CatalystVETS .
People are out there who will gladly share what they have learned throughout their years in practice and business but YOU have to make the first move!
So, welcome to the greatest profession Class of 2015! The days are long but the years are short so make the most of them!
Any of our community want to add to this list? What do you wish knew when you graduated from veterinary school?