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  • drnicoladepaul

How I learned to value myself after my worst job interview ever!

Dear Menders,

So, here’s the question that I’ve been thinking about since I interviewed Dr. Cindy Rubin from In-Touch Pediatrics and Lactation last week, how do we reclaim our innate value as humans while we are working within the healthcare system?

I don’t have a perfect answer to this question, but it led me to reflect on how I reclaimed my internal worth through the worst job interview I have ever had!

Let’s be clear. This interview was for a once-in-a-lifetime “unicorn” opportunity to work in health systems transformation and to create holistic programming for a major medical center. In short, it was a very sexy job. At least sexy if you are as nerdy and excited about health systems transformation and well-being as I am.

The interview took place in the early days of COVID, when the whole country was in lockdown. I was a new mom and motivated to get this job. I was still struggling with postpartum anxiety, burnout, and loss of confidence in myself as I struggled through the first year of parenting a tiny human.

I prepared, overprepared, and prepared some more. Finally, I was on the call with the interview team, and I choked. Completely. No doubt about it, I gave a terrible interview. Unsurprisingly, I was not hired. I took this “failure” hard. I personalized it, interpreted it, and explained to myself why who I was and what I had to offer would never have been enough to allow me to excel in that position. I let the outcome of one lousy interview define my worth.

Lucky for all of us, this was not the end of the story. I was able to interrupt this process. It started when I learned to acknowledge the problem. Yes, it was that simple.

It took about a year of significant life changes, a cross-country move, daily mindfulness practice, and a great therapist to help me see how much weight I had placed on this one moment of “rejection.” I had allowed an external event and another person’s opinion of me to define how I saw my worth. Ouch! This awareness allowed me to reorient and reclaim my internal worth.

Enter job interview number two.

Remarkably, the same position was advertised again just two years later. Yes, the very same unicorn! “Wow, this is a sign from the universe!” I thought to myself. So, I applied and interviewed again. And this time, I did not choke. I had a great interview. What I shared was a solid reflection of my core values and philosophies of leadership and health systems transformation. And guess what? Yep, you’re right. I was not offered the job.

Why? Who knows? Were we a values mismatch? Was someone else a better fit? It doesn’t matter. Why? Because my internal worth is not defined by my accomplishments, failures, external situations, or other people’s choices.

My value is inherent in my humanity, and so is yours.

When we acknowledge our inherent worth and dignity, we make choices to honor and respect ourselves.

We set boundaries. We practice self-care. We feel less angry and resentful. We regain our capacity for empathy.

And we create the emotional space to honor and respect the inherent worth and dignity of others around us. Our families. Our co-workers. Our patients.

And ultimately, after taking one step at a time to care for ourselves and others, we cannot help but create transformation in our relationships and systems of care.

Now think for a moment:

  • What “metrics” are you using to define your value?

  • How much weight are you giving to your successes (or failures) in the system?

  • What about you (the essential you) define you as a unique human being?

I hope you take the time to listen to to Menders episode 18, where Dr. Cindy Rubin shares her story of taking a leap of faith from the traditional healthcare system into her direct primary care pediatrician practice.

For Cindy, making this transition allowed her to create a fulfilling work life where she structures her patient interactions so that she has plenty of time for healing interactions with her patients and still makes it home for dinner every night. And perhaps most important of all, taking this leap of faith has challenged her to take full ownership of her value as a human being in a healing profession.

  • How she went from missing dinner and bedtime with her family every night to creating a flexible schedule that allows her to attend her children’s school lunches and baseball games!

  • How she used a bold publication to connect with a community of like-minded physicians who applauded her as she brought light to the challenges in her health system!

  • Why you need to connect with a community of like-minded clinicians and a simple way to find people who will champion your worth in your health system!

Here are a couple of my favorite quotable moments from this episode:

“It was manageable and suddenly zero to 60. It was like I was exactly where I had been, and I realized I can’t do this. I’d gotten a taste of what it could be like to be able to see fewer patients a day.”

- Dr. Cindy Rubin

“Something shifts when people take on a systemic level of responsibility and the system’s values. It’s important to me to question that….if we change our values and commit to changing them, I believe things can happen differently!”

- Me! (Dr. Nicola De Paul)

This episode will get you thinking, laughing, and motivated to reach out to your community of colleagues.

It’s time to value ourselves.

Listen to the podcast, and let me know what you think!

I would love to hear what you do to acknowledge and honor your value. Connecting with the Menders community keeps me motivated. Thank you for sharing!


p.s. this episode brought me back to an earlier conversation with Nancy Campbell, Leadership starts with love. Make sure that you don’t miss it!

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