Archive for January, 2010

As already mentioned in Part I of this story, my brother Steve was unhappily working as an ER surgeon at a hospital outside of Vienna. He felt stuck in all aspects of his professional career: pay was miserable, colleagues were horrible, work environment was highly stressful – I guess you get the picture here. Besides, being in the ER was a dead end for him, as he much, much rather wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon (please read Part I).

Well, now that my brother knew for certain where he wanted to work (becoming clear in Part I), he still could not see any possible way of ending up working at that particular hospital, which also happens to be Europe’s biggest orthopedic surgery hospital.

When my brother’s stress levels had reached unbearable heights, that was in the fall of 2007, we had several conversations over the telephone, one of them brought him clarity bout where he really wanted to work (see Part I) and one of them helped him to simply have faith and overcome his Shadow Hounds:
Steve: You have no idea how sick and tired I am of this job.
Q: Why don’t you quit?
Steve: Quit? Are you out of your mind? Where should the money come from? I have no savings whatsoever, money is extremely tight, I am already barely making ends meet?
Q: I know, I know brother, have faith. I strongly believe that you will end up working as an orthopedic surgeon. But the issue is that by working in this hospital your energies are completely screwed up so that you won’t be able to attract the new and good, even if it already were available to you. You have to change to change your energies and get yourself out of this situation before anything else can happen.
Steve: What can I do? What should I do? I have no money!!
Q: Brother, why don’t you simply go on a vacation? Somewhere you have not yet been? Somewhere warm and exotic maybe?
Steve: What?! This is the craziest thing I have ever heard! Weren’t you listening to me at all? I told you that I have no money!! How on earth can I afford a vacation?!
Q: Hear me out! Didn’t you say that you sent out applications to get into residency programs?
Steve: Aren’t you ever listening to me?! I told you, no hospital wants me! They all put me on their waiting list, which means that I will, if I am lucky, get into the program five years from now! And the chief surgeon of my favorite hospital bluntly told me to not bother him again unless I knew the mayor of the city or had otherwise strong political connections. My chances of getting into any program here in Vienna within a year are very slim; getting into my preferred hospital virtually zero!!
Q: I am hearing what you are saying and I do also understand you that you are stressed out and cannot see the forest for the trees. I am suggesting something groundbreaking here, something that shatters the cast that you are imprisoned in, something that sets free your bound and stuck energies so that they can breath again and do what they do best, connect with other energies and bring about what it is that you really want!
Steve: Hmm?! All I hear is you wanting me to quit my secure job without having another job lined up and spend money that I do not have and go on vacation – that sounds crazy to me!
Q: Brother, have I ever given you bad advice?
Steve: No, you are right.
Q: You know that I work with energies and help folks to lead happier, healthier and wealthier lives than they ever dreamed possible?!
Steve: Yes, I know that. But…
Q: So, then simply trust me and take a leap of faith.
Steve: This is a lot to ask for.
Q: I know brother, I know. Trust me, once you have fended off your Shadow Hounds (fear of not finding a new job and not having enough money to live of), your energies will start flowing again and things will unfold faster and better than you have ever thought possible.
Steve: OK brother, let me think about it…

A few days later I receive a phone call from my brother:
Steve: I have had it. I walked up to my boss and gave him my four weeks notice.
Q: Wow! Congratulations brother.
Steve: Well, I simply couldn’t stand it anymore.
Q: Hmm.
Steve: Well, believe it or not, I also booked a last minute ticket to Thailand. I will be gone for some three weeks.
Q: What?! How come?
Steve: A friend of mine currently lives in Thailand and always wanted me come. So I surfed the web and found this incredible deal and I simply went ahead and booked it.
Q: Holy Moly, I am speechless.
Steve: I will take off next week and will be back before Christmas. So when you come home for the holidays we will be able to catch up and see one another.
Q: Well, all I can say then is: bon voyage.

A couple of days later, I receive another phone call:
Steve: Brother, you would not believe who called me and wanted me to come by for an interview.
Q: Well?
Steve: My hospital! The place I always wanted to work at!
Q: What?!
Steve: I know this is crazy. My interview is tomorrow. I am so nervous and do not know what to do.
Q: Man! This is fantastic! No worries, you will make it brother! Simply visualize that you will be offered a job at the end of your interview. Visualize the shaking of hands, smiles and pads on the shoulder as well as a warm welcome to the family. Visualize every detail as precisely as you possibly can. When you go to bed tonight and when you wake up tomorrow morning. Just do it and feel the feeling of being offered a job and picture yourself jumping up and down filled with joy and happiness.
Steve: Whatever you say brother.

The next day I got another call:
Steve: Incredible! I got a job!
Q: Holy smokes! Awesome!
Steve: Well, I only got a job as a surgeon without residency status though.
Q: And?! Who cares?
Steve: Well, I care! I want to become an orthopedic surgeon! Hello! Why can’t you ever listen to me!
Q: I know, I know! But you now have a job for God sake. Not just any job, but a job as a surgeon in your favorite hospital. How cool is that. Everything else will simply unfold!
Steve: No it won’t! The chief surgeon said that all of a sudden they encountered a shortage of staff and since a very reputable colleague had put in a good word for me he was willing to give it a shot. But only as a surgeon and not as a resident. He said that the five year wait list was still in place for the orthopedic surgeon residency.
Q: Who cares?! You are in! Now forget about the rest and enjoy your time in Thailand.

Two months after my brother had started working at the hospital as a regular surgeon without the option of ever entering the residency his boss and chief surgeon of the hospital took him aside and the following conversation unfolded:
Chief surgeon: Well, Dr. Moayad, I have been observing you very closely over the past two months and I must say I am very impressed with what I see. You are doing a great job.
Steve: Thank you, Sir!
Chief surgeon: Well, as a matter of fact, I am so impressed that I have been wondering how I can help you in getting into the orthopedic surgery program.
Steve: What?!
Chief surgeon: I know that I told you that there won’t be any availability for at least another five years, but one can always bend the rules to help out a talented young colleague.
Steve: I am speechless.
Chief surgeon: Here is the deal: every time a resident has to leave to do their non-orthopedic surgery training at a different department, I will have you fill in their spot. And since there is always someone gone to get their training at a different department you in fact will be a resident without actually and officially being in the program. So, what do you say?
Steve: I am still speechless and do not know what to say…
Chief surgeon: Well, then, we have deal as it seems.

You can imagine the telephone call I got from my brother after he left this meeting.

This real life story of my brother is symptomatic for how one can achieve the seemingly unachievable if one only had enough faith and clarity. I can only repeat again and again: EVERYTHING is possible – I NEVER take a NO for an answer. Know what you want and chase those Shadow Hounds away. Take the reigns into your hands and tell your horse where to go.

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A few years ago I had a discussion with my brother ultimately helping him to become clear of his goals as well as overcome his Shadow Hounds. I have told this story in my lectures and workshops and since I have had a lot of requests to put it on my blog I am finally giving in. The story will be told in two parts – Part I (becoming clear about what it is that you want) and Part II (overcoming Shadow Hounds). This is the first part:

My brother Steven was stuck in a dead-end position as an ER surgeon in a hospital in Austria, right outside of its capital Vienna. He hated his job, the hours, the pay, and the colleagues; to put it short: it was living hell for him.
He always wanted to become an orthopedic surgeon, but since orthopedic surgery is the most difficult program to get into in Austria, he wasn’t lucky enough to secure a residency so he kept working in the ER, content with simply having a job and thus money in his pocket (even though he disliked every minute of it).

One day, when my brother’s frustration levels reached unbearable heights, he called me in the US and the following hour long conversation unfolded:

Steve: I hate my job, I cannot stand it anymore.
Q: Well, then quit your job and find something new.
Steve: But I do not know what to do.
Q: I thought you wanted to become an orthopedic surgeon?
Steve: Yes, I do, but there is no chance in hell for me to get into that program.
Q: If you had a say in this, where would you want to train as an orthopedic surgeon?
Steve: Anywhere! It doesn’t matter where! As long as I can become a fully qualified orthopedic surgeon, I will be a happy man.
Q: Hmm, anywhere?!
Steve: Yes, absolutely – anywhere!
Q: OK, how about Australia? What if the recruiter called you and offered you a position in Oz? (My brother worked with international medical recruiters and placement agencies as many, also highly developed countries, are suffering from a shortage of medical doctors).
Steve: Phew, Australia?! Wow! That is truly far away. I really don’t know if I could move to Down Under.
Q: OK, I understand. Oz is indeed far from Austria. How about coming to the US and living with me? Wouldn’t that be great!?
Steve: O yeah! That would be wonderful! But then I would have to take all of my exams again as the US does not accept any other country’s medical degree. That would be too cumbersome for me.
Q: Understood. Fair point. How about South Africa? You love South Africa. The weather is great. The people are lovely.
Steve: Hmm. I don’t know. South Africa is also quite far away. And I have heard that the work conditions can be rather challenging depending on in which hospital you end up working at.
Q: OK, OK! Let’s forget about the rest of the world and just focus on Europe. How about England? They need doctors, pay is great and you know the country pretty well. What do you think?
Steve: Well, phew, I don’t know what to think of this one. It is always raining up there and the Brits can be quite funny…
Q: How about Scandinavia? You like those countries, don’t you?
Steve: Yes sure, but it is so cold up there. You get drowned in snow for half a year. I don’t know if I can handle that.
Q: No worries, let’s get closer to home. How about Germany? There wouldn’t be a language barrier for you at all, work conditions are great, pay is great and it is pretty close to home. What do you think?
Steve: Yes, sounds like a good option. Hmm, let me think about it. You know, I really don’t know how to put it, but I simply cannot picture myself living in Germany. It might be too structured and too organized, and…
Q: OK, stop it! Screw all the countries out there…let’s stay in Austria. What do think?
Steve: Now we are talking! Cool! That feels good to me!
Q: OMG! We are getting somewhere here! Finally! Let’s say a hospital in the western parts of Austria called you and offered you a job, would you take it?
Steve: Oomph, well, you know, the western parts are so different from the rest of the country. They are almost Swiss over there. I can barely understand what they are saying.
Q: How about the southern parts? A hospital near the Italian border?
Steve: Those people are funny, too. I don’t want to live there, period.
Q: Well, brother, we have been talking for an hour now and there is only one place left – how about working in Vienna itself?
Steve: That would be magnificent! I would love it! It would be ideal! But I already told you that I have applied to all the important hospitals and all of them have told me that there is no chance for me to get a residency. Unless my dad was the director of a hospital or we knew the mayor of Vienna, I should not bother to call them back for another five years.
Q: My dear brother, I did not ask you what the hospitals told you and/or what your presumed chances were in getting into a program. I only asked you where you wanted to work. That’s it! So, let’s get back to work again. Is there a hospital that you specifically like in Vienna?
Steve: Sorry brother, I did not mean to nag and complain. Well, there are two hospitals that I like – both are great!
Q: What if hospital A called you up tomorrow and offered you a job? Would you take it?
Steve: Absolutely!
Q: Cool! But what if hospital B called you after you had accepted the position with hospital A, would you accept B’s position and dump A?
Steve: Right away! Without a doubt!
Q: Wow! So you are telling me that out of the whole wide world we are now down to ONE hospital in the city of Vienna, your hometown?
Steve: Well, if you put it that way – yes ;) But I already had two interviews with the chief surgeon there and he told me both times that I have absolutely no chance of getting into the program there…you know that.
Q: Brother, I know that, yes! But, again, all I wanted to know from you was, where you ideally wanted to work, that’s all…

Needless to say, that in the end and only about five weeks after our talk my brother ended up working at that hospital – by the way Europe’s biggest orthopedic hospital. How he ended up there – even though we do not know the mayor of Vienna – I will unveil in Part II.

I hope this story put a smile on your face and brought you some direction for your own journey.

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