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Visualizing and Achieving Goals

Chelsea Rice, for HealthLeaders Media, September 13, 2013
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This article appears in the September issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

William T. Long, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon and medical director of the Orthopaedic Computer Surgery Institute at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles. The 54-year-old has long been involved in track and field, particularly the long jump, and whenever he enters competitions, he thinks he's going to win—a lesson he shares with the young people he coaches at local high schools.

On setting goals: When coaching athletes and consulting patients, my role is similar. With athletes, we begin by listening to their goals and dreams. If they are willing to do their work, we begin to transform their body through drills and exercises. With joint replacements patients, we begin with the first office visit by listening to their goals and dreams. If I believe their goals are realistic, I tell them so and I make a commitment through their surgery and rehabilitation that we will work together to reach their goals. We don't define success by a good-looking x-ray. We define success by a patient who achieves their goals.

Treating and coaching young people: When coaching young people, one great advantage is that they tend to dream big and they are not afraid to set high or lofty goals. Often, if they don't achieve their ultimate goal, they can still be very successful. Older people often begin without much hope. Arthritis might have crushed their dreams. Sometimes I have to convince them the things they want are possible.

The power of visualization: With a disability or deformity, I will picture them standing straight before me. I will picture them without their walker or crutches and with no deformity, and I will share that vision with the patient. Often I will show the patient a before and after video of another patient with a similar condition. At times, that allows the patient to see the vision I have for them. Once they have that vision, we go to work together to help them achieve their goals.

Reprint HLR0913-12


This article appears in the September issue of HealthLeaders magazine.


Chelsea Rice is an associate editor for HealthLeaders Media.
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