David was a physician in his mid-sixties with a well-established practice that he and his partner had built over many years. He wanted to retire soon and that meant selling the practice. He and his partner had already begun the early work that was required to put this in action.

As he began to take these steps, he realized that this was not going to be easy. While he had the transactional side of selling a practice in hand, he was struggling with the prospect of no longer seeing patients or having the day-to-day interaction with his staff who saw each other as extended family.

It was the emotional side of selling the practice and retiring that was troubling David.

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When David began working with his coach, it was hard to miss the angst he felt about selling the business. It was palpable and it was keeping him up nights. A big part of this was wanting to ensure that his staff were taken care of in the sale.

But it was more than that. What emerged in his conversations with his coach, is that he was having a hard time imagining no longer practicing medicine. As David put it “I’m a doc. How do I not be a doc?”

As is common with many physicians, the work understandably runs deep and is core to how they see their identity. As David put it, the work is exhausting but it’s your life.

Painted illustration of two hands, heavy use of bright red and oranges.

What began to emerge in the conversations was a scenario in which David did not need to stop practicing. Not entirely. The question became in what other ways, ones that would work better for him today, could he remain engaged in the practice of medicine.

His coach provided David with an introduction to a small non-profit organization that provided specialty health care to underserved populations. As he spent time talking with its executive director, he could see himself helping the organization and a future vision began to unfold in front of him.

David realized that it was important to him to give back, to pay it forward so to speak, in some way. His wife had immigrated to the US, and he felt he understood how different things are in less advanced countries where people don’t have the same access to care. In this next chapter of his life, he wanted to give back to others less fortunate.

The thought of giving back while still practicing medicine energized him and he felt a strong commitment to pursue this direction.

Over the next year, David and his partner sold the practice and continued to support the new owner in the transition. At the same time, he moved on to the next chapter in his life as a “doc” and completed his first trip as volunteer for the non-profit organization he had spoken with. He has since done a half dozen more.

Note: To honor confidentiality and protect the privacy of our clients we do not use names and have altered possibly identifying details in this Case Study.

About Perceptive Leaders LLC

Perceptive is a boutique leadership development and professional transitions consulting firm based in Denver, Colorado serving clients in the US and Canada, since 2005. We have worked with over 1,000 senior organizational leaders and accomplished career professionals to help them recognize opportunities for impactful and substantive change and how to realize that transformational change. For more than 15 years, Perceptive has been helping leaders and their teams transform their leadership. For more information, visit perceptiveleaders.com.

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