when “blooming where you’re planted” is a bad idea

women leaders: when “blooming where you’re planted” is a bad idea

Up until year ago, a physician leader I know was doing doctor stuff on TV – like Dr. Oz or Sanjay Gupta. She loved everything about TV, from sharing her expertise in women’s health to planning her segments with the producer.


Secretly, she loved tossing aside her scrubs and clogs for her white coat, a pretty wardrobe, and stylish shoes.

And spending time in hair and makeup? Fab, of course.

Some people are born for TV.
She’s one.

She’s smart and funny in all the right places. She’s approachable and expert at the same time – like a board-certified, wicked-smart version of Kelly Rippa.

Every time I watched her on TV, I’d have a vision of her with her own show.

But then she stopped doing her TV spots when she got even busier with work after being tapped for a leadership role in her healthcare system.

Today when we talked, she told me that she’s been feeling super-anxious.
Not about her practice, BTW.
The patients, she tells me, are the easy part.

She’s anxious about the politics she has to navigate every. single. day.

Her colleagues – even those she considers friends – criticize her leadership style and whisper behind her back about her decisions.

They won’t, she tells me, say anything to her face. The twin imps of mistrust and jealousy nip at her heels where ever she goes.

She finds respite in her operating room.

And yet, she tells me, every day she does her best to get up and go to work with a good attitude.

She told me that she does her best to be helpful, to be kind, and to bloom where she’s planted (because she’s from the mid-west and that’s what we’re supposed to do.)

Can you relate? 

I told her that her life sounds a little like junior high or a college sorority. Or an episode from the Real Housewives.

She laughed, a knowing, pained laugh, and then quickly turned serious as she asked me what she should do.

Did I have advice or a strategy she could use?
Or maybe something to help her manage her anxiety?

I did.
But not what she expected.

I recommended that she call her PR department and get herself back on TV again.
As soon as possible.

Why? She asked.

Here’s what I told her.

Because you belong there.
Because you’re an influencer.
Because you’ve got a contribution to make that goes well-beyond negotiating salaries and designing call schedules for ungrateful burned out colleagues.

Because I believe that you’re actually meant to have a global impact with your ideas and your expertise.

And because sometimes the universe as a not-so-subtle way of telling you when it’s time to shift gears and to go do your work.

The way I see it, I told her, is that her work as a leader requires a much bigger stage than the one she’s currently standing on.

It seems to me that her environment is telling her that it’s time to blaze her own trail, rather than continue to do what she thinks she’s supposed to do, rather than continuing to try to bloom in hostile soil.

Now over to you.

What’s the cost of trying to bloom where you’re planted?

What creativity and leadership qualities are you stiflilng as you keep your roots in hostile soil?

What positive actions have you taken to transplant yourself?


Robyn McKay, PhD is an award-winning career and leadership expert for emotionally-intelligent, successful women in STEM, Medicine, and other high-performance fields.  Women leaders work with Dr. McKay to recover from burnout so they can reconnect with their unlimited reservoir of creativity and innovation and revitalize their careers and their lives.

If you’re ready to take positive action and get specialized advice and mentoring on burnout out recovery, you can apply for a confidential consultation with Dr. McKay <<right here>>

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