Stay Cool & Suc­ceed

Focus of SWFL - - Home & More - By Ginny Grim­s­ley

We all ask our­selves the same des­per­ate ques­tion from time to time:

How am I go­ing to make this work?!

“No mat­ter how well we’ve done lay­ing the ground­work for ev­ery­thing to run smoothly – be­com­ing ed­u­cated, choos­ing the right spouse, treat­ing oth­ers well ­­ we all face sit­u­a­tions that chal­lenge us,” says Dr. Robert J. Cer­fo­lio, a world­renowned car­dio­tho­racic sur­geon known as “the Michael Jor­dan of lung surgery.” “If we can keep our cool and ad­here to some ba­sic prin­ci­ples, we can not only meet any chal­lenge – we can per­form with ex­cel­lence.” A high­per­for­mance ath­lete in high school and col­lege, Dr. Cer­fo­lio par­layed his tal­ents and fo­cus into pur­su­ing his med­i­cal ca­reer and cre­at­ing a happy fam­ily with his cher­ished wife, Lor­raine, and their three sons. But after bat­tling breast can­cer, Lor­raine re­cently passed away. Cer­fo­lio, au­thor of “Su­per Per­form­ing at Work and at Home: The Ath­leti­cism of Surgery and Life,” shares the prin­ci­ples that helped him through that great­est of all chal­lenges and lesser ones along the way. “Ap­ply th­ese prin­ci­ples in work, sports and life in gen­eral, and you can be­come a su­per per­former,” he says.

Pres­sure equals op­por­tu­nity.

It’s when some­thing mat­ters that the pres­sure starts to build; this is where the rub­ber meets the road for sports­to­life analo­gies. “In sports as in life, re­mem­ber your train­ing; follow through just like you did dur­ing prac­tice; vi­su­al­ize suc­cess; be­lieve it will hap­pen,” Dr. Cer­fo­lio says. “With friends, for ex­am­ple, high­pres­sure mo­ments can be those times when they need you. The best way to have great friends is to be a great friend.”

Strive to hit .400 ev­ery year – keep your eye on the prize; write it down.

“My high school gave out an award each year to the best stu­dent ath­lete in each grade,” he says. “I wrote down that I wanted to win the Klein Award in the ninth, 10th and 11th grades, and to win the most pres­ti­gious award at the se­nior grad­u­a­tion, the Deet­jen Award. He ac­com­plished most of those goals, and a key to those achieve­ments was writ­ing them down and plac­ing the pa­per where, for four years, he could see it ev­ery night.

“By writ­ing them down, I had made my goals clear and ob­jec­tive.”

Lean to­ward a “we-cen­tered” ego rather than a “me-cen­tered” one.

“When I traded in my base­ball uni­form for sur­gi­cal scrubs, I no­ticed the im­por­tance of strip­ping the many lay­ers of the ego I once had,” Dr. Cer­fo­lio says. “This is re­ally im­por­tant: Your ego doesn’t need to be vis­i­ble to ev­ery­one ­­ or even any­one but your­self.” Be­ing a top per­former re­quires ego – it helps fuel self­con­fi­dence and pro­vides some of the mo­ti­va­tion nec­es­sary to achieve. But it should not hin­der the per­for­mance of your team: your co­work­ers, friends and fam­ily. Over time, by keep­ing your ego to your­self, it be­comes eas­ier to en­act a team­ori­ented ego, rather than a “meori­ented” one.

Time to quit?

Rub some dirt on it. In life, work is un­avoid­able, so embrace it, go big, and ap­pre­ci­ate the re­wards. No mat­ter how dif­fi­cult the chal­lenge you face or how much it may hurt to meet that chal­lenge, push through and give it your all. “Yes, there’s a chance you won’t suc­ceed, or won’t suc­ceed to the de­gree you’d like. But you stand zero chance of suc­cess if you don’t meet that chal­lenge and give it ev­ery­thing you’ve got,” Dr. Cer­fo­lio says. “You owe it to your­self and your team, whether that’s your ball team, your fam­ily team or your work team. When you sign up for any team, by def­i­ni­tion you prom­ise your time, ef­fort and 100 per­cent com­mit­ment. You have to be at ev­ery game and ev­ery prac­tice on time and ready to go.”

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