The FIX17 team was honored when Dr. Lynne Richardson agreed to be the closing speaker of FemInEM’s inaugural conference. Dr. Richardson is an icon in the world of emergency medicine. She is nationally recognized for her NIH-funded research, and has proven herself to be a leader through her dedication to ending health disparities and improving emergency care.  We could think of no one better than Dr. Richardson to share her thoughts on leadership.

In her talk, Dr. Richardson shared three meaningful thoughts on being a leader. The first is taking control of your life. Everyone is born into a script which is based on the expectations of one’s family and society. Dr. Richardson was a black girl born in Harlem, New York in the mid 1950’s, and as she stated, based on the expectations of her birth, not very many people would have envisioned her becoming the doctor she is today. Many people live within the script into which they were born, never changing the narrative. But you “do not have to be constrained by the script into which you were born,” Dr. Richardson asserted, and in fact, oftentimes being a leader requires you to change the narrative, to write your own script, and to believe that you are in fact in charge of yourself. This means you can choose the way you look at things, the way you react to things and even the way you feel about things. Stop blaming others for your circumstances. As Dr. Richardson stated, “there is nothing more freeing than assuming responsibility for yourself.”

Dr. Richardson’s second thought on leadership involves commitment. Most successful leaders are committed to something. Unfortunately, many are only committed to themselves and their own success. But good leaders are committed to something bigger—a principle or core set of values. This kind of commitment can lead to greatness. This commitment “becomes the inspiration for the script that becomes your life.” Dr. Richardson stated that much of her success can be credited to her commitment to serving the people in our society who have not had the opportunities and privileges that she has had as an emergency physician. Commitment is not easy. It takes time, sacrifice and discipline. But commitment “makes almost everything else possible.” Commitment to something larger than yourself can give you the strength to keep going when things get hard.

Her third thought on leadership is acknowledging the role that luck plays in success. “There are people just as talented, just as committed, and just as smart who are not where I am because they have not had the opportunities that I have had, and some of that is just luck,” informed Dr. Richardson. But as Louis Pasteur was reported to say, “chance favors the prepared mind.”  While you are waiting for that stroke of luck that might be the major turning point that makes your career, you should be busy preparing, building your network, and acquiring knowledge so that you will be ready for that lucky day. When an opportunity comes, you will be prepared for it and step up and take it. Additionally, we must acknowledge that none of us have gotten to where we are today alone. The way you repay the debt of luck and the investment others have made in you is to pay it forward.

Dr. Richardson’s talk was a powerful closing to a conference full of inspirational women and men sharing their experiences to help improve emergency medicine. It was motivating to say the least. The FemInEM team cannot wait for FIX18!

Richardson, Dr. Lynne D. “Closing Thoughts on Leadership: Commitment, Control, and Getting Lucky.” FIX17 Conference. New York City, New York. October 5th, 2017.

Watch the full FIX17 talk below!