What can a doctor learn from Gary Player and Kurt Cobain

Gary_Player_Kurt_Cobain“The more I practice, the luckier I get”, quipped Gary Player in response to a wisecracking spectator who had watched him hole a difficult shot from a deep bunker.  To demonstrate his point, the master golfer took his detractor’s bet and successfully repeated the shot – then did it once again just for good measure and double money!  Player may, or may not have coined the familiar phrase, which has been echoed by numerous high performers, from all walks of life.

“Practice makes perfect, but nobody’s perfect, so why practice?” is an alternative view from Kurt Cobain – singer, songwriter and guitarist from 90’s alternative rock legends Nirvana.  This quote reflects what frustrated many about Cobain, who is remembered as both genius and squandered talent in equal measure.  Type the phrase into your internet search engine and you will find numerous variations of the quote being used as a focus for juvenile rebellion and avoidance.

On one hand we have an example of professional dedication, constantly striving for improvement and not settling for anything less than being the best he can be.  On the other, an undoubted talent uses his skill with words to casually excuse himself from putting in any effort.  Just turning up was enough.

Are you expecting to have an interview for a new role in the near future?  Where do you sit on the “Gary Player vs. Kurt Cobain Scale”?  Have you begun to prepare and to practice?  Have you taken the time to consider which experiences most effectively illustrate your abilities?  How well do you actually understand your key strengths and development needs?  What are your opinions on the current hot topics in healthcare?  How much do you actually know about these topics?  Will you be able to communicate your thoughts clearly and concisely, ensuring that the interview panel will get to know the real you – and be suitably impressed?

Dedicated, intentional practice is fundamental to being able to deliver a coherent, reliable and impressive performance, especially when you are under pressure.  Raw talent and knowledge is never enough.  The worlds of sport, music and academia are littered with unpredictable prima-donnas who failed to hone their skills and ultimately fell short of their potential.

A true pro would never dream of performing without coaching, feedback and practice in a safe environment.  Time needs to be planned and set aside to seek appropriate critique and support.

Doctors expecting to present themselves for interview can significantly boost their chances of success in this way.  Just like the golfer who regularly practices how to get the ball in the hole from difficult situations, it pays to practice responding to difficult or unexpected questions, to describe events, express your opinions and then receive feedback from an experienced coach in a safe environment.  Investing time and effort leads directly to new ideas, improved skills and confidence.  This will in turn increase the chances of the top performance required and therefore success.

So how effectively are you preparing and practicing for your medical interview?  Is your approach closer to a dedicated, consistently high performing sportsman, or to an inconsistent, if sometimes brilliant rock star?  Gary Player or Kurt Cobain?

And a final thought.  Do you really think that Nirvana delivered their outstanding, career defining MTV Unplugged show without rehearsal?

Oxford Medical Training is the UK’s leading provider of high quality career development and interview preparation for doctors.