Trigger Warning… this week on the podcast I tackled some very sensitive topics.
There are some hard truths in veterinary medicine about what we are doing as veterinary professionals that keeps us creating terrible experiences for ourselves.
When those terrible experiences compound, terrible things often happen.
I’m talking about end points like relentless anxiety, depression, burnout, suicide, homicide…
We must become aware of our role in our reality.
We must become the creator of our own experiences.
This week I didn’t hold anything back.
Here are a few points from this episode:
Shit rolls downhill. If you are a practice owner, or on-site medical leader or chief of staff in your practice, the state of the workplace culture is on you… and it starts with you and your personal behavior. When you start to see disrespectful, aggressive, condescending, and bullying type interactions between the people who work for you, then it’s on you to foster change in that environment. Do not deflect it, do not delegate it. You are the top of the top. This is your practice. So even if you have an office manager, even if you have a practice manager, even if you have a lead technician or a lead doctor in your hospital, it’s still on you.
As long as we can continue to stay in jobs that do not include a safe and supportive work environment, we will continue to foster the existence of unsafe and unsupportive work environments.
Many of us share a misguided belief system that we must stay at our jobs because if we leave, we’re abandoning the people we work with and we’re abandoning our clients and we’re abandoning our patients. This is untrue.
The reason that we stay in positions that we actually don’t feel aligned with anymore is from fear. Fear of judgment, fear of of isolation, fear of not being accepted, fear of somehow that means failure. We can’t create better life and career experiences from fear.
You are perfect exactly the way you are. You have opportunity for growth and expansion and and experiencing things well beyond what you experienced in this current moment, %100. You have the right to goals and dreams and bigger things in the future, 100%. And you have the capability of creating all of it.
The bottom line is this… if we don’t take personal responsibility for the role we play in creating our own life experiences and veterinary career experiences, then we will continue to experience our lives and careers in exactly the form they are in today every day in the future.
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This transcript is auto-generated and may contain typos. Hi there. I'm Dr. Cari Wise, veterinarian, certified life coach and certified quantum human design specialist. If you are a veterinary professional looking to uplevel your life and your career or maybe looking to go in an entirely new direction, then what I talk about here on the Joyful DVM podcast is absolutely for you. Let's get started. Hello my friend. Welcome back to the podcast. Before we jump into this episode, I want to share a bit of a trigger warning because what I'm gonna be talking about in this episode includes topics like homicide, suicide, depression, anxiety, overwhelm, emotional wellbeing, and personal responsibility, some pretty heavy topics. And so if you are triggered by any of those topics, then this episode may not be for you. With that said, this episode is an audio recording of a Facebook Live that I recently held, and I thought that it was important enough to share it now on the podcast as well. So with that said, let's get started. Recent events in the world have really kind of brought to the forefront again, as it should, our opportunities. Now, I may have been one of the last ones to hear about this, but just over a week ago, right at a week ago, there was a shooting in a veterinary hospital in Florida. And this shooting in this veterinary hospital was a, as I understand it, so as I understand it from what I have read, it was a, a former employee of the veterinary hospital who went in and shot a veterinarian and then shot themselves. And so two people died. And whenever I hear about death of veterinary professionals, I always have a very profound emotional reaction to that. And when I have, when I hear about veterinary suicide, for me, it's heartbreaking. It is devastating. I feel I, I, I just feel the weight of that and I can only imagine how hopeless somebody must feel when they make that choice. When I heard about this shooting in Florida, I did, I did have, and I do have grief over that. But what's very interesting for me in this situation is I am very angry. I'm very, I feel very angry about this and I'm angry because why are we still allowing it to get to this point? How is this still happening? Those are the questions that I have. And so when I think about our veterinary profession and I think about the experience in veterinary medicine, one of the things that I always remind myself, and I think it's important for all of us to remind ourselves, is that the experiences that we are having in a veterinary hospital are not exclusive to a veterinary hospital. So I'm not saying they are, they're okay. So we're gonna get to what we're gonna do about it, but I first wanna talk about how the things that we experience, the pressure, the anxiety, the negative interactions with each other, you can use the word toxicity if you want to, bullying diminishing of somebody else's value or efforts. Those types of things are happening in every profession all over the world. So I think it is so important that we start there and not continue to build a culture of victimization around the career field that we have chosen. Because if we do that, then we continue to foster a story that just continues to seed victimization within our profession. And the truth is, we have lots of opportunity to have a completely different type of experience once we start to break away from holding tightly to the belief that this profession is going to require a sacrifice of our wellbeing as, as a, like a penance of being in it. So first and foremost, I think every one of us can use a little bit of a reminder that our true value is absolutely never determined, diminished, or even validated by anything anybody else does. Your true value is never determined, diminished, or validated by anything that anybody else does. And this is important. This is critical information for you to have. This is really something we all have got to hang onto because if we continue to make our own personal value, our true value of, of our lives, of our human experiences, of our efforts, if we put our true value, the measurement of that outside of ourselves, we will lose 100% of the time. Because you can never do anything in this world, whether it's your job or anything else. You can never do it right enough to guarantee that people are always going to accept you. You can't do it right enough to guarantee that you are never going to be judged or criticized. The the opinions that people have of us and the people, the opinions that people have of veterinary medicine and of veterinary professionals, they're going to range from people who hold us in very high regard, who respect us, who are kind, who are friendly to people who think that we're out there for the money, who judge everything that we do, who criticize, who are ugly and nasty. The entire spectrum is going to exist. It does exist. It has always existed. And as we've brought awareness to the impact of that type of behavior on veterinary professionals, we have created a result that I don't think was intended, which is the identity of victimization that goes hand in hand with the identity of being a veterinary professional. We have got to separate those things. Now, how do we do that? I'm not gonna leave you here without some, some strong opinions and some tips on how we do that. And, and guys, this may be very confronting for some of you. What I'm gonna share next, it very well may be confronting. I may be pushing your buttons if it feels uncomfortable. I want you to listen because if what I say next gets under your skin, then there's something in this message that you need to hear. So please know that I come to you today from extreme dedication to improving the wellbeing of all veterinary professionals and quite honestly of all humans, that I come to you from a place of love and of opportunity for you and belief, such a strong belief in what is possible for your life, whether or not you stay in veterinary medicine. Please know that this comes from that type of motivation, but also know that I am no longer and haven't for a long time sugarcoated any of this stuff because that isn't helping you. Us walking around tiptoeing around these topics, trying to interact with each other with kid gloves that is not working, that is not how we solve these problems. And until we start to understand what's actually happening at a personal individual level and then how our personal individual choices are actually creating entire environments and experiences for other people around us, until we understand that and we take ownership for our part in this problem, this problem is never going away because we are going to continue to wait on somebody else to change before things get better. And my friends will be waiting forever because we've been waiting forever already. So with this said, we have to start out and I want us to think about a veterinary organization. I don't care if you're in private practice, corporate practice, that if you work in industry, and honestly, if you're not even in veterinary medicine and you're watching this, this applies to you too. So think about the organization where you spend most of your time. And I'm, for most of us, I'm talking about work. And I want you to think about what is the culture like there? How do people treat each other there? Is it one of those situations where people are walking around on eggshells, they're afraid to poke the bear, if you will? Is there somebody that is trying to make sure that the veterinarian never gets angry, never gets snappy, they're trying to really manage everything else just to keep that veterinarian from exploding? Are you avoiding certain people because they're just angry all the time? They're snaring at you, they're criticizing, maybe they throw things, maybe they're veterinarians, maybe they're not. They're assistants, they're veterinary technicians, they're practice managers, they're receptionists. Who are you tiptoeing around? And as you guys identify people in your practices that behave this way, because most of you probably have people in your practices that you're avoiding, people who are, are a little scary, if you will, people who are so unpredictable, you would rather just not work with them. People, when you see them on your schedule, you dread going to work that day. If you have this going on in your practices, I'm gonna first talk to my practice owners, practice owners, this is on you. This is on you. Shit rolls downhill, my friends. So if you see this in your practices, do not ignore it. Do not deflect it, do not delegate it. You are the top of the top. This is your practice. So even if you have an office manager, even if you have a practice manager, even if you have a lead technician or a lead doctor in your hospital, it's still on you. And what I mean by that is that you are the one who decides what happens in your hospital. And when you start to see these kinds of interactions, then it's on you to foster change in that environment. So maybe that means if you have a lot of hierarchy in your hospital and you do have an office manager and you have a practice manager, maybe they're the same. Or if you have a lead doctor or you have a lead technician, it means getting that key group of people together to talk about what is happening and how are we going to interact with everybody. Part of this stuff can be solved with very clear employee expectations. If we set those expectations up front, including expectations of behavior, then we don't have to be mad When somebody behaves badly, we simply evaluate behavior against the expectation. But in addition to that, we wanna be curious why are they behaving this way? Is there something in my, in this organization that isn't supporting them? Now, I'm not saying that it's our responsibility to lift everybody up in the world that absolutely not personal responsibility is part of this. But what I am saying is that when you identify that there is someone that is behaving in your environment in a way that does not support a cohesive and collaborative environment, a supportive environment where everybody feels safe and everybody feels equitable, then those conversations have to be had. And for me, in my experience as I have done this over the years, the first place I'm going to look when I see somebody behaving that way is I'm going to look at myself. What am I doing and what am I communicating that has people believing that it is okay to behave that way in this organization? What have I not been clear about? I'm also gonna talk to that person. Hey, what's going on? I notice that you sna, you tend to snap at so-and-So I notice that when, so-and-so walks in the room, you walk out of the room, I notice that you huff and puff a lot when you have to talk to clients on the phone. I notice that you get really frustrated when the schedule changes what's going on. Let me understand the experience that you're having because there may be absolutely, there may be things that we can adjust and things that we're not being consistent with that can help and improve the experience for everybody. And there may not be. So we have to understand what is our role in this? And then we have to set the expectation of a zero tolerance PO policy on drama. We are not gonna treat each other that way. We cannot treat each other that way. Now, like I said, practice owners, this starts with you. And so if you are one of those people, and I have been this person, believe me, I have been this person. So if you are the person that everybody is walking on eggshells around, the one that people are trying to avoid, the one that you personally, when you walk in your practice, you are dreading walking in that door or everything is fine until something changes on your schedule and then all of a sudden you're just a monster to be around. You're, you feel angry on the inside. Maybe you're not yelling, maybe you're not throwing things. But believe me when I say even if you're keeping in your anger and your frustration, your people around you are aware of it. You are not hiding it as well as you think you are. And so if you are a practice manager and you're, and and I would say much of this comes to burnout, you're in that level of burnout to where you are putting off that kind of energy and having that kind of experience, which is how you're gonna know you're putting off that kind of energy. If nobody's brave enough to tell you, then you've got work to do, my friend, you've got work to do because you are letting your wellbeing be dependent on what happens at your practice during the day and on what happens with the people that you work with, with the people that you've hired. And many of you out there may be blaming your staff for the experience that you're having. And my friends, it is not their fault. It is not their fault. Now, I'm not saying you hired the best staff in the world. I'm not saying you didn't, that you haven't hired people that maybe don't need to be in your organization anymore. But what I am saying is that as long as you blame them for the way that you feel, they are never gonna win and neither are you. And it's not their fault. Whenever we start to point to external things, to our staff, to our schedules, to our clients, we point at those things and we use those things to justify why we are unhappy in our jobs, in our professions and we can. The same thing applies to any area of your life. When we start to point fingers and justify our misery because of somebody else's behavior, there is no path out of that because your wellbeing then getting out of misery will always be dependent on something else changing some other person changing their behavior. And if you are a strong leader in your hospital, then when you identify employees who are not meeting the expectations of the role, you don't have to be personally offended by that at all. It's simply a performance evaluation opportunity. You have those conversations with the people who work for you. You remind them of what the expectation of behavior is. You ask them to give feedback. What's going on that these things keep happening. If they are mistakes, you take a step back and you say, okay, where have I not trained my staff well enough? Are there opportunities for me to train better? Have I thrown somebody blindly into a role assuming that they know how I want it done or how things should be done here? No. You don't get to just hire people and assume they know how to do all the things, trust that they do, but validate. Make sure that they're doing things the way that you want them done or that the way that they should be done for what the, the skill at hand. And if it's not, then provide an opportunity to train up into that. That's how you build strong teams. But if you hire in assuming people are gonna be able to do all the things to the standard that you hold and then you get angry with them or angry in general when they don't, but you don't ever do anything in the middle, you don't do any evaluation, you don't, don't any feedback, you don't do any training, then just recognize that you are trying to help hold people to a standard that they don't even understand. So there is an obligation on the part of any kind of leadership to make sure if you're judging your people harshly for their performance, that you have clearly identified it, that you've given them the opportunity to learn it and that you're following up with feedback to give them the opportunity to improve. If you are not doing those things and you are continuing to blame the people around you for why you're unhappy and miserable in your job that's on you, that is a hundred percent on you. They're never going to be able to meet your expectations. They're never gonna be able to fill that gap where you feel so defeated and frustrated and angry, they just won't. Now, I'm not trying to blame you or shame you. I'm trying to create some awareness around this because I've been that person and I was so far into it that I didn't even see because I was very much believing that no matter how angry or anxious or whatever I was, that my people couldn't see it. That I was hiding all of it. And it wasn't until I had a very, very brave technician who actually asked me one day she asked to have a meeting with me. So kudos to her for that. And we had a one-on-one meeting in my office and she just flat out said, I wanna know, have you ever considered that? Maybe you're bipolar. And I was floored, but I knew where she was coming from, a hundred percent because the on the inside where I thought that my anger and my happiness, which were flipping back and forth in rapid fire, I thought that I was hiding that because I wasn't yelling things. I wasn't throwing things, I was getting everything done. But my staff knew they could see maybe the tone of my voice was different. Maybe my willingness to answer questions changed, probably just my general energy that I came in with or that switched back and forth throughout the day because they didn't ever know when they talked to me, which version of me they were gonna get. And so when she was brave enough to have that conversation with me, that's really when I'm like, you know what? I had known, I had known for probably years, honestly, if I wanna be real honest, probably I had known from 18 months to two years that I needed some help, but I didn't know how to get help. And I was ashamed. I was ashamed that I had gotten to the point that I was so anxious that I was spending and I was so honestly, I was so depressed. And I felt so much pressure because I built this veterinary hospital and all of these clients depended on me. All of these patients depended on me. All of these people that worked for me depended on me. All this pressure that I had put on myself, I didn't even know where to turn. And when I would have a day off, when it would slow down, that's when it got, it was the worst because you know, action is a really good buffer, my friends, you stay really busy, you can avoid all the things that you're feeling, feeling. And I had done that for years. And so when I would have a day off, and this would usually happen on a Sunday, that's when I would become really personally aware of how much I needed some help. And what are you gonna do on a Sunday? Who are you gonna call? 9 8, 8 didn't exist then honestly, if it had, I would've called and trying to set up a doctor's appointment. 'cause I had my courage. I need help. I know I need help. Like I'll courageously do this, can't do it on a Sunday. And so then another week would go by and another week would go by. And when I finally did get some help my friends, it made all the difference in the world and the kind of help that you get. I don't care if it's counseling, I don't care if it's coaching. Just get some help. Talk to somebody because I promise you that you are not in this alone. And what creates that experience for us is not actually the job. It's not actually the clients and the patients and the people who work for us and the schedules. It's not any of those things. That story that we tell ourselves that we are responsible for all of it. That if we are not there, that we are going to let somebody down or an animal is going to suffer my friend. Those are just stories. They're not true. But as long as those are the stories that we hold onto and that we live by, there is no way out of that. It's part of this hyper responsibility and perfectionism thing that I talk about all the time. You were never meant to save the world. You're meant to live your part in this world and that is all. And that can look like all kinds of different things. So practice owners, to kind of come back to this, and this is not just about practice owners, I'm not done yet. This may go a while, but practice owners to come back to you. If you see any of this bullying, if you see any tiptoeing around people, if you have awareness of people asking to work certain schedules to avoid other people, do not jump to the conclusion that you've got one or two bad eggs in your practice. Go to that higher level because this stuff wouldn't even exist in your practice if there wasn't some opportunities for improvement at the levels up above. So it starts with you clean up your shit, be a strong leader. If you don't know how to do that, find somebody to help you as part of the stuff that we do over here at Joyful DVM. You are not in this alone. You shouldn't be in this alone. And until you take care of you first, you cannot take care of all those other people who work for you and the people that you serve. You just can't do it. This is not because you're broken. This is not because you're less than. This is not because you're in the wrong job. This is because you're a human and this is a human experience. And at some point in every single one of our lives, we're gonna bump up against a challenge that we can't buffer our way and push our way through. We're gonna bump up against a challenge that requires us to go inside to dig deeper, to peel off the layers of bullshit that we've been taught throughout our entire lives to get to the heart of our own insecurities, to stop trying to chase external validation through achievement and acts of kindness and words of affirmation we have. We will get to that point where it is necessary for the next experience in our lives. For that next up level of growth and expansion for us to actually be our own heroes, for us to be the people who believe in us more than anybody else. For us to really develop such unshakeable self-confidence and self-trust that no matter what happens around us, we still show up in integrity of who we are and what we believe. Veterinary practice is an amazing catalyst. It provides such great opportunity for personal growth, but we have to choose it. And the thing of it is it's easier to not choose it. It's easier to buffer our way, eat our way, shop our way, spend our way, yell our way through our days. It's easier to do that. That's the way that you've learned how to survive so far. And this is for everybody in veterinary medicine. This is how we survived. It's actually everybody in the world, but my friends, if we want to do something different than we have to be something different. And that means that we have to be who we are. I'm not asking you to turn on a new identity, honestly, I'm just asking you to let go of the identities that you've adopted that actually were never true for you in the first place. The victim mentality, the belief system that veterinary medicine's going to require you to sacrifice your wellbeing, the belief system that things outside of you can ruin your days. Don't give your power away like that. Now if you're experiencing this in a veterinary hospital and it's not a veterinary thing, right? So maybe, maybe as a veterinarian you are good, like you're not the person people tiptoe around, it's somebody else. Then I want you to look at who those people are. Do you have people and key leaders of management that people are scared of? There's a difference between a healthy respect and fear. No longer is it acceptable to to lead with an iron fist. Yelling and threatening people only goes so far. And in this day and age, there is more opportunity than ever for us to improve our cultures and for us to leave them if they are not improving. And so for everybody else who's not a practice owner, I want you to listen up and even practice owners, you know this is for you too because it does impact you if you are working in an environment where you do not feel safe, where you do not believe people are being treated equitably where there isn't support and feedback. And I'm not saying an environment that lets you get away with everything because that is not the same thing I'm talking about. Like what's my ideal environment? An ideal environment is that we all have jobs, we know what those roles are, the expectations of those jobs have been communicated to us. We are evaluated on a regular basis so that we know how we're doing. And that evaluation comes in a constructive kind of way. It's not judgment, it's not yelling, it's not backhanded comments and underhanded snarkiness that it's true structured performance evaluation where areas that you're not meeting expectations are identified and opportunities for improvement are offered my friends, there is no drama needed in any of this. If you're not working in environments that have that for you, then you have an opportunity to have a conversation with somebody in leadership to find out is it supposed to be there and it's just not happening. Is it not part of the culture at all? Is it not something that they've ever implemented? Do they want to implement it? So get some information on why that's not the case. And as you get that information, I want you to consider whether or not that entire environment is on a road to improvement, excuse me, to improvement, which would be the case when you interact with leaders who are committed to changing culture. Culture doesn't change overnight. So let's just say that, let's be very honest, you can't change culture overnight, but it can make change. It cannot. It can change from what we might label as a toxic work environment to a supportive work environment. Those changes can happen. They're going to take some time. So is your leadership, is your organization committed to that? And do you see evidence of that even if the progress isn't as fast as you want it to be because the progress is never as fast as we want it to be, my friends. So can you see that? Do you have a belief and a faith that your organization is trying to create that for everybody who works there? Or are you met with a completely different set of facts? Are you told No, we don't do that here. Are you told this is the way it is? There's no opportunity. We don't want your feedback show up. Do these things leave? Are you told? Yeah, the practice manager, we know she's pretty cranky. She's been here for 25 years. Just try to avoid her as much as you can and just realize like they'll still take what she says personally. We know she's like that, but it's just the way it's, or you know, insert whatever role, senior technician, an associate veterinarian, whatever. Is there somebody there that your leadership is just aware of their behavior and accepting it and telling everybody else just to deal with it and avoid them. If you identify that the place that you work does not have any kind of commitment to improving culture into creating a supportive work environment, I wanna ask you why are you still working there? Why now some of you're gonna hear me say that and you're gonna say, because Cari, I need a job, Cari, I have to make money. Okay, you want to make money. There are a million ways in this world to make money. And as long as we can continue to stay in jobs that do not include a safe and supportive work environment, we will continue to foster the existence of unsafe and unsupportive work environments. It's that that simple my friends, it is that simple. And in veterinary medicine, why this has continued to fester, why this has continued to be a problem comes back to a many things. But some of the, the anchors of this, of this perpetual problem is that the people who work in veterinary medicine have really big hearts. We are compassionate individuals, we care deeply. We really do care about people. We really do care about the animals. We want to help. And we have believed a lie that we are the only ones who can. We have believed the lie that if we leave a practice that animals and patients will suffer. We or animals and clients will suffer. We have believed a lie that if we leave a practice that we are abandoning our coworkers who are also there experiencing the misery that we are experiencing. And so together, we band together, we stay in this, in this culture of suffering, if you will, under some kind of misguided belief system that we must stay there because if we leave, we're abandoning the people we work with and we're abandoning our clients and we're abandoning our patients. And if we aren't there, what are they going to do? I have heard this so many times and I get it, but it's bullshit. We have got to start changing this because as long as we keep staying there, and I'm not saying that those are not good reasons that you wanna support the people that you work with, that you wanna be there for clients and patients. Those are very commendable reasons for doing your job. But continuing to do it in an environment that is not safe, that is not supportive, that has hostility within it, that's personal choice. And until people start refusing to work in those kinds of environments, those environments are never going to change. Now we have seen more than ever this being a real issue for veterinary medicine in the years since the pandemic because as we had a bit of a pause on the world, people started to realize I don't wanna go back into that environment. And there have been a lot of veterinary professionals who just completely left. And I get it and I have no judgment against that. I get it because when you have a second to step off the hamster wheel, all of a sudden that hamster wheel doesn't look like so much fun anymore. And so the future of veterinary medicine does not depend on getting enough bodies to go back to doing it the way that we were doing it before because that was never a sustainable way of practicing veterinary medicine or existing in the world. It never was. It already had huge problems. But we kept covering up those problems by throwing money and bodies at the problems. That's no longer an option. The money mart part might be an option. You can keep throwing money at the problems and some organizations are doing that. But money alone will not fix the problems if the problems themselves are starting at the top level and rolling downhill. And so when we are in these organizations and you realize that this is just not a great fit for you, but you feel pressure and obligation to stay because of your coworkers or because of your clients and your patients, I want you to realize that you are then contributing to the perpetuation of these negative and toxic environments. We all have a role to play in this. And now more than ever, there are so many jobs available because there is a shortage of veterinary staff, there is a shortage of veterinarians right now in the world. And so if where you're at isn't the kind of environment that you wanna work in, then there are other options out there. Now I know this is going to get under the skin of some of my practice owners and I am not trying to throw you under the bus, but what I am trying to share is that if you have been putting off addressing problems within your organization that you know exist, then you are part of the reason that they leave. If you know there are problems in your organization that resist, that exist, particularly in the interactions in your staff and you do nothing about it, do not be angry when people decide to leave and be honest with yourself. You might decide to leave too if you didn't feel so much pressure and obligation because you own the business. Now, for some of you that awareness and that that stress can lead to some really drastic choices, and I am not ever going to advocate that you permanently remove yourself from this world as a solution is not a solution. I'm also not saying that you are to blame. Please hear me. I'm not saying you're to blame because I know you're suffering too. I know you are because I know that you're in a role where you don't have the support that you need and you don't know where to get it and you're afraid to ask for it because you don't wanna be like, look like you're weak or that you're, you're failing. I get it. I've been there. I get it my friend. Your life is so much more important than this animal hospital that you own and you can care for people and you can care for clients and you can care for animals and you can still care for yourself more. And you should because you and your life is the most important thing for you. Only when you take care of you can you take care of anybody else. So when we keep sacrificing ourselves to just keep going, it's not actually helping anybody in the long run. So as a practice owner, get the help that you need. If you need to not be an owner anymore, don't be an owner anymore. If you need to make a total different change in your life, maybe veterinary medicine was your passion to begin with and maybe it's just not anymore. That is okay just because you chose to be a veterinary professional, professional, and this is for everybody at some point in your twenties probably or earlier, and now you're in your thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, and this is just not your jam anymore, then just don't do this anymore. Like literally it's okay. The reason that we stay in positions that we actually don't feel aligned with anymore is from fear. Fear of judgment, fear of of isolation, fear of not being accepted, fear of somehow that means failure. But no, none of that is true. Get some help, help to help you untangle those stories so that you can move forward in the life and the way that you want to move forward in your life. Because as long as you stay in a position, if it's an ownership position or an associate position or in any other position, if you stay in a position that is no longer aligned and right for you, you are just going to fight against yourself and that's going to then bleed out into everybody else For you associates out there, same kind of thing. And for you, any of you, veterinary technicians and assistants and receptionists and practice managers, this applies to everybody. If you are in a role that doesn't light you up, if the work that you do in day out isn't meaningful work for you, if you don't enjoy it, but you believe that you have to do it, just know that that's a story. There's not a single thing in this world that you have to do. Let's take a step backwards. Let's figure out why am I believing that I must continue to do this to survive? 'cause that's the basic question. Underneath it, you're believing you have to do it or, or something very bad is going to happen to your survival ability, survivability. So what is it? What link have you put there? Are you so afraid of defaulting on your student loans that you're sacrificing your wellbeing, you're believing? Maybe the only way you can make money is by staying in veterinary medicine. Are you afraid of the judgment of shame of your friends and your family if they realize when they realize you don't actually wanna be a vet anymore or you don't wanna be a vet tech even after you spent all of that time and money going to school, do you somehow think that your choice to go into veterinary medicine was a wrong one because you did it for a few years and you realized through that experience that it's not for you? Do you believe that you wasted your money and time by doing something that you're not gonna wanna do forever? My friends, nobody, none of us wanna do the same thing forever. It's okay. You made the best choice that you could at the time. And just because you wanna make a different choice today doesn't mean you made the wrong choice in the first place. Not at all. So how are you keeping yourself locked into the situation you're in because of the pressure you're putting on yourself and because of the fears that you have about leaving or changing? Those are the questions we need to ask ourselves. That's where that personal responsibility piece comes in. Because my friends, at the end of the day, you're the only one responsible for your own emotional wellbeing. You are the only one who can change this for you. This is an inside job. This is gonna require you to go deep. This is gonna require you to look in the closet to peel back the layers, to find the crap that you've just been pushed away and never dealt with. And in doing that, you will free yourself from all of this pressure and all of this judgment and all of this fear and you'll start to realize that there's nothing wrong with you. There's nothing wrong with any of you, not a single thing. You are perfect exactly the way you are. You have opportunity for growth and expansion and and experiencing things well beyond what you experienced in this current moment. A hundred percent. You have the right to goals and dreams and bigger things in the future, 100%. And you have the capability of creating all of it. It's already there if you want it, if you want it, whatever it is that you want, it's already part of who you are. It's already part of your energetic blueprint. And this life is fleeting, it is short, but you, the essence of you is never ending. Energy is neither created nor destroyed, it just changes form. So us in a human body, this is how we are at this point. But when this life ends, we don't end. We don't end. And anything that's trying to teach you otherwise question it. We are here but a moment. So how do you wanna spend your life? How do you wanna spend your time? Do you wanna continue to blame everything around you for why you can't expand and move forward and have something different? Because if you want to do that, you will never change where you are. What got you to this point won't move you forward. It requires us to make shifts and step into our own personal power to do that. And it's all possible. It's all possible. But as long as we overall as a collective in veterinary medicine, as long as we continue to talk about the challenges that come with this career field as inevitable consequences, as long as we keep victimizing client situations, client interactions, patient outcomes, student loan, debt hours pay, as long as we keep looking at those three things through a lens of victimization and believing, really believing that the only path to thriving in veterinary medicine is to fix all of those things. We will never experience anything different. At the end of the day, my friends, you don't control any of those things. You never have and you can't manage your way out of it. You can set up organizations that are supportive, that have a zero tolerance policy for drama and negative behavior. You can walk the talk because it always starts at the top. So even if you're working in corporate medicine where you believe the top is beyond your control, there is somebody at your local location who is the leader of that hospital. There's probably, if it's set up like most corporate situations are, you've probably got some kind of chief of staff or medical leader that's a veterinarian. And you've got somebody who's an office manager or a practice manager who's probably maybe a veterinary technician but may not have actually have medical degree. But you've probably got at least those two roles. And so on the ground in your hospital, when I'm talking about the leadership of the hospital, I'm talking about you, it starts with you. So if you come in every single day, angry at the corporation, angry at the way that they do things, angry at whoever that next person is above you in line feeling victimized by all of it, just realize your experience is rolling down to everybody who works in that hospital with you and ask yourself a better question. Every one of us needs to ask ourselves this question, does working here require me to sacrifice my personal morals, ethics, values, or emotional wellbeing? If it requires you to sacrifice that, you need to start looking around to decide is this actually the right fit for me? Because it just may not be the right fit. That doesn't make you a failure. It doesn't even have to make the organization bad. It just is a lack of alignment. It's just not aligned with the way that you wanna do it. And that's okay. But saying that you can't leave and continuing to be angry about the way that it is, is self-defeating and it will compound over time. You'll feel you will just stay chained to it. And when we feel that way, we withdraw, we stop interacting with our lives. And my friends, this is survival instinct 1 0 1, you're alive, you're miserable, but you're alive. And so there's some part of your brain that's going to, you discourage you from making a bold change. It's gonna discourage you from digging into your own demons and uncovering them and letting them go and noticing where things came from. So much of the way that we live is just the subconscious identity issue that we don't even know is there. If we don't do those things for ourselves, we will just continue to stay where we are. But if instead we decide for ourselves what kind of experience we wanna have and we seek the environments that help us to create that experience, then everything changes. Everything changes. And for those of you who are like, yeah, this all sounds great, but, and you're gonna give me a whole list, but what you have one life, let's put some perspective on this. You have one freaking life. You in this form, one time, one shot, this is it. How do you wanna experience it? That's up to you. That's completely up to you. And if it's not the experience you wanna have, you have all the power to change it absolutely can change it. And as you make those changes, not from a place of being a victim, but from a place of stepping into an empowered reality that you and you get to decide what kind of wellbeing you're going to experience, what kind of day you're gonna have, what kind of impact you're going to have, what kind of future you're gonna build. When you step into the next moment of your life from that perspective, then you can start to let go of the opinions that other people have of you. You can start let letting go of having a negative reaction to things when they change unexpectedly. You can start to just be you without trying so hard to be something you were never supposed to be in the first place without trying so hard to meet the expectations of maybe friends and family and clergy from years back when you, you were younger. 'cause many of us carry all that forward. You can stop trying to be good enough to guarantee that no client is ever unhappy, that no client ever says, you know, does a board complaint or post a negative online review. None of that shit matters. When you actually are solid in yourself, when you know that you've done the best that you could with what you were given, that your motives were solid, then just let the other people think what they think. It doesn't mean that you don't care about your clients and patients 'cause you do. I know that you do. But caring about your clients and your patients does not mean that you need to make them happy because you can't do that for them. People who choose events like what we saw recently in Florida to try to, I don't know, validate their experience, their negative experience by killing someone. I mean, I don't, I can't even pretend to know the motives, right? I don't, I don't know what was in that person's mind and in their heart in that moment. I can assume that it was a really deep hopelessness, maybe anger, a really deep belief that someone there really wronged them. And I'm not saying that that didn't happen, I don't know. But I think we have to keep our eyes open. I think we cannot ignore it when we see people being treated differently across our staff. We can't ignore concerns that are brought forward. We can't minimize somebody else's experience. We need to listen. We may not be able to fix it, right? We, whatever their concern is, might not even be something that is solvable. Maybe they want something that is just not something we provide, that's okay. But still, we must make space to listen because if what they need is not what we have the ability to offer, that doesn't mean that we are less than or that they are over demanding. It just simply is a, an alignment issue. It's just not a good fit. And that's okay. But so many of us in veterinary medicine, because we are so compassionate and because we are so kind of stuck, if you will, in our own insecurities, in our own dramas, in our own pressures, we can't even have the conversations. We avoid them. We avoid confrontation. We avoid, avoid what I call high value conversations. We avoid anything that's uncomfortable to talk about. We avoid performance reviews because we think they're gonna cause drama. We are afraid of how the other person is going to react. And so as we just continue to living day in and day out in our own individual fear and letting that then interact and, and, and influence how our people in our organizations interact with each other, just know that that's not a supportive work environment. It's not good, not good for anybody. It's okay if people mess up. It's okay if people aren't doing things the way that we want them done. But until we offer them the opportunity to improve and until we clarify the expectations, we don't have any right to be angry if it keeps happening. People can't meet an expectation they don't understand. And if your leadership, whether you're the owner or you're an associate or your support staff, if the leadership where you work isn't approachable, I want you to really consider how willing you are to continue to stay there working in that environment. I'm not, this isn't a call for everybody to flood away from veterinary hospitals. Please don't misunderstand. But I think that we are beyond the time that we have to talk about these very real infrastructure fractures within the whole system of veterinary medicine. And also to recognize and to realize that these same fractures exist in organizations across the globe, not just veterinary related. They exist in fast food restaurants, in human healthcare, in dentistry and electric companies. I mean everywhere in big box stores everywhere. And everybody right now is in a period of really starting to have awareness around what they are and are not willing to tolerate. My hope for all of us is that we no longer make personal decisions about how to deal with these situations through violence against others and violence against ourselves. Because that doesn't actually change anything. It creates a horrific event, but it doesn't change anything. And if you aren't here to see it, what happens next? Then how will you even know? We each have one life. And I wanna kind of end here where I started, which is to remind you that your true value will never be determined, diminished, or validated by anyone outside of you. If you have people in your life who diminish you, who speak negatively to you and about you, who are disrespectful, who are cruel, your gift to yourself is to remove yourself from those people, from their influence, not remove yourself from the world. Allow yourself to consider that maybe those people who are behaving so badly toward you, it actually doesn't have anything to do with you at all. Because their behavior toward you is a reflection of their internal wellbeing. When we are ugly toward other people, it's not about them, it's about us. Our negative behaviors towards others is all about us. What's going on with us on the inside? And so if we can remember that and we can approach our interactions with each other, remembering that, then when somebody behaves badly, when somebody is rude, when somebody is disrespectful, when somebody yells, we don't have to take it personally. We don't have to be offended, we don't have to blame ourselves. We can just see, wow, they're going through some stuff. But this doesn't have to do with me. I'm doing the best that I can and I am willing to, like if we're talking about work, I'm willing to work here and I will try to meet the expectations they set. If I need some help, I will ask for some help. If I don't understand the expectation, I don't know how to do the skill, I will ask for some help. And if I don't get help, if I feel like I'm being attacked all the time, I'm gonna tell somebody, maybe it's happening between two people out of this line, sight line of leadership, my friends. That happens a lot. I'm gonna tell somebody I'm gonna take it to somebody that can do something. And if it doesn't improve, then I am going to make the choice for myself to remove myself from that situation and find a different situation. Individual journeys, what is right for one person isn't right for another. There is no black and white right and wrong here. It's all just personal choice, personal responsibility and unlimited opportunity for us to create something different. If where we are stuck right now isn't actually supporting the kind of life that we want to have, we do not need to turn to violence. It doesn't solve anything. We do not need to remove ourselves from this lifetime. Suicide is a permanent solution to a part-time problem. Something where we really believe the lies so strongly that the world will be better off without us, my friends. That is never gonna be true. The world will not be better off without you. Whether or not you believe it in this moment, you are intentionally created for a reason. Your impact in this world is needed. Your influence is needed. There are people who you may never even have met yet that you're going to impact in such a powerful way that you're gonna change the direction of their life in some way, shape, or form. Do not underestimate the power of the influence you have that you don't even realize you're having. You may look to other people and be stuck in that trap of comparison because so many of us get stuck there. We're looking for that external validation, that we're good enough, that we're good enough humans, that we're good enough veterinary professionals. And you may be falling short every single time. Do not believe the lie that you're supposed to be like them. And don't believe the lie that there's actually anything wrong with how you are right now. It's a journey. My friend's life is a journey. And the person that I am today is a vastly different person than I was 30 years ago. Vastly different. And I never in a million years would've thought that I would be sitting here on a live event streaming to who knows how many people are gonna see this video sharing the things that I share with you here. Never did I know that this was my path. But if I had given up back then going on almost 20 years ago when I was in such extreme burnout when my staff didn't wanna be around me anymore, when I felt completely hopeless and overwhelmed and I just didn't even know like how I was gonna get outta the situation I was in if I had given up at that point. I just can't even imagine. I mean, I can't imagine. I could think of, I could look at the last 20 years, what I would've missed out on. It hasn't not been sunshine and roses. No, it's been a lot of work. It's been a lot of, there's been other challenges. There's been other struggles there. You know what? Who caress. I can honestly say that at this point. Who cares? Because I only have evidence of surviving every difficult thing I've ever been through in my life. And you will do the same. You only have evidence of surviving every difficult thing that you've ever encounter encountered in your life. So let's not mess up your track record by taking ourselves outta the game. Challenges struggle. They all require us to grow. They require us to let go of old stories and old pressures and old belief systems. And as we do that doors open in front of us, we move forward. And the life that you are always meant to live becomes the life you are living. But as long as you keep trying to live a life that was never yours, to live in the first place, you will continue to have an experience. You were never meant to have my friends. Everything is possible for you. Everything is possible for you. And do not let something as simple as this job in veterinary medicine be the reason that you take yourself outta this lifetime. Do not let it be the reason that you decided that you are a failure, that you don't matter, that you've messed it up because you haven't. And if veterinary medicine is no longer the right fit for you, then get the hell out of it because your life is not worth this job. It is not worth this job. The people you work with, you can care about them, but they're not worth your life. The clients you serve, the patients you help, you can care about all of them, but staying an obligation to them at the expense of yourself, it's not worth it. Give yourself permission to go a different direction if that is what you need. Absolutely no shame, no guilt, none of it's needed. And if that's what you need to do, but you're just scared to death to do it, you don't know how to get started, you get in touch with me. That's what we do over here. Absolutely. And I firsthand know that if you're gonna make some kind of big change in your life, if you know down deep inside that there's a big change you need to make and you're afraid to do it because of the judgment, because you know you're not gonna be supported by your family, by people close to you, that's okay. It's your life. You get to decide. And many times the people closest to us do not understand and do not support big changes in our lives. And that's only because they care about us so much and they can't see the vision of what you have, that they believe that you're putting yourself in danger by changing and you're not. I promise you, you're not. I've made enough big changes in my life. I promise you, you're not putting yourself in danger by making a change. So if you need some help, if you're in crisis, if you are at any point considering suicide, the 9 8 8 hotline exists, use it. You can even just text it now. It's so easy. So much easier than before. And if you're not there, thank goodness. I'm glad you're not. But if you are, there's no shame. Please get the help. And when you're ready to move forward in your life, if you need to make some changes, if you need that encouragement, if you just need a completely different perspective on everything, that is everything that we do over here at Joyful DVM. So jump over to the the website, get on the wait list for the next time we open Vet Life Academy. Check out the Vet Me Joy Club. Super easy to get in with us there. To get that alternative perspective, send me an email, shoot me a message on Instagram, our Facebook, let me help point you in the direction you need, and if there's some way that I can support you that is aligned for you, then let's look at that too. I know at this stage in my life that my purpose is to support you. I know that I go first that by sharing what I have to what I've experienced, my strong opinions by poking, pushing some buttons here and there. I know that it makes a difference. And I know that because of what you all have shared with me over the last six plus years, and I'm not gonna shut up and I'm not gonna stop, and I'm not gonna keep encouraging us to understand that the culture of victimization that we have created and continue to perpetuate in veterinary medicine is an inside problem. And if we keep looking to the outside to fix it, we're never gonna be any different. I'll keep saying that. And as we move forward, as you consider what's next for you, if you're a bunch of associates, if you're an asso, even one associate in a practice that you realize is not gonna be supportive for you long term, you find another one and another one, find two or three of you go together, open up your own practice. Do it the way you wanna do it. If you're terrified to do that, talk to me. I've opened enough practices my life. I understand how it works, guys. Don't let things like fear stop you. If you think there's a better way to do it, then create the better way of doing it. Do not wait for somebody else to do it. This is your life. And if you have that on your heart that you know that you can do this better, then do it better. Don't let the fear of I don't know how to open a practice. I don't know how to get a loan, I don't know how to find staff. Do not let the how stop you from what you are meant to do here. The how will become clear. You've just gotta make that first step and decide if you need any help, you need any encouragement, you need any support, contact me over at Joyful DVM, my friends. I hope that what I've shared with you today has been helpful, has been encouraging, has been uplifting, has been paradigm shifting. If this message has resonated with you, please share it with a friend, because the way that we change the culture of veterinary medicine and the entire world is always gonna be one individual decision at a time. You are the only one who has the power to change your life, to expand your wellbeing. It all starts with you, and I'm here to support you always, every step of the way. All right, my friends, have a beautiful rest of the week and I'll see you soon. Bye.