AAF Wisdom

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The 3 Mindset Shifts of Radically Successful Surgeons

by | Dec 8, 2021


This article is written from the vantage point of an executive coach and provides the reader with three mindset shifts that reveal a proven path to obliterate mental barriers and claim ownership of the radically successful experience.

*Executive coaches, unless licensed, do not make or treat diagnoses. Coaching is not a replacement for licensed therapy.

Every article ever written that has powerfully transformed people’s lives tells a story of someone standing in the middle of their own discomfort faced with a life changing event.

This article is no different.

What you are about to read is undeniably bold and is exactly what it takes to claim ownership of the radically successful experience in your own life.


No tool is omnicompetent. There is no such thing as a master key that will unlock all doors.

~Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History


At seven o’clock on a quiet evening I sit intently on the other side of a ZOOM call watching my new client twist his wedding band and listening to him rattle off his credentials and career accomplishments as a Double Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeon.

He wants me to know I’m not dealing with the average doctor. 

As he settles into his seat, he begins to detail a few of his imperfections and flaws as a means of explaining and justifying his current predicament and adult self.

Perhaps, even though he hates to admit weakness, he is, fundamentally, an honest being.

Dr. Orthopedic explains matter-of-factly how he has come to be in this newfound position of seeking a human performance coach and how our weekly time blocks will likely provide a source of economic value to his private practice. 

If I give him another three minutes of uninterrupted space, he’ll tell me what the fuck is really going on.

Needing a confessor, I became one.

For the next several minutes he verbally battled with whether our time together would be considered a victory or defeat.

He argued the status quo in medicine is a smokescreen that public policy calls “solutions to patient care” that unjustifiably hide behind inherent design flaws rectified through a quick technological fix to the tune of billions of dollars.

And everyone’s buying it. 

What are doctors for at such moments? 

And, having virtually zero control over and complete mistrust of the reimbursement system, hospital administration, and, of course, the insurance industry to provide fair compensation, his life, identity, and career are feeling more like a liability; dreadful to the irresolute.

Surgeons, it turns out, need hope, too.



There’s a war going on in life. 

It’s a war with yourself.

An epic battle that causes you to completely lose all autonomy over one or more aspects of your life.

Often times it’s the daily commitments that keep you spinning inside the hamster wheel going nowhere.

Not to mention a mindset that convinces you to believe the bullshit lies and distractions that suppress you from accomplishing your most important work.

I know this because I meet doctors all the time who are successful by anyone’s definition but have blind spots they don’t even know exist.

Which obscures the reality that we are solely responsible for our actions and therefore fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard.

Hell, some of you even operate in a reality that your magnum opus is either out of reach or don’t even know what it is.

That’s sad.

Really, it’s more than sad… it’s tragic.

Your reality is what you believe to be true and the objectivity of that reality is how you show up in the real world.

Did you read that?

Read it again. 


And think about it. 


Everything you do, think, and feel are in alignment with what you settle for.

And what you settle for is what you think you deserve.

You create your new reality when you learn to examine what’s actually possible.

That’s exactly what this article is designed to teach you.

It will give you strategies and tactics you can employ right away.

Every aspect of what I’m telling you is designed for that purpose.

Your journey starts with this article and continues as you take action and risk failure in the real world.

And, if you take this article seriously, you’ll achieve that purpose.

Are you ready?

You’re about to learn how to claim ownership of the radically successful experience…



What’s the common thread that ties the most radically successful surgeons together? 

More importantly, what do they have that you do not? 

If you look into their past, you’ll find parallels and similarities to your own life: poverty, prejudice, opposition, tragedy. 

Normal human beings with normal human flaws.

If they weren’t born with supernatural powers, how did these regular people come to be viewed as radically successful surgeons among their peers? 

Among you?

The answer… thought patterns.

Specifically, thought patterns that define the most efficient mastery of the mind, in the immediate and long term.

What if you could experience these thought patterns by gaining control over your inner experience, taking command of this craft, and readying yourself to claim ownership of the experience in the immediate?

In just a moment, you’ll learn these thought patterns and my rationale for choosing each.

But here’s what you need to understand before that:

First, if you are going to embrace a radically successful mindset you need to know how to commit.

You need to know how to put your back up against the wall like you have no other options and execute what you intend to put in motion. 

I’m talking about the kind of commitment that removes all available paths back to your previous ineffective patterns.

The kind of commitment that requires you to make your life purposefully harder.

The kind of commitment that scares the shit out of you.

Even if you’re in the middle of uncertainty.

Especially when your life is the most complex.

Without excuses.

Without justifications.


This is where your glory will be found.

Why is this concept so important to grasp?

Because the moment you open the door to excuses is the moment you invite laziness and ultimately compromise. 

And I guarantee you that quitting is just around the corner.

I guarantee it!

I know this because it’s happened to me.

I’ve seen it in the lives of the thousands of doctors I coach; men and women alike.

Also, most people shy away from challenges that go beyond one dimension and that’s a big mistake. 

Without consistently challenging yourself beyond the limits of comfort, you’ll lack a purposeful existence. 

And that’s why you continue to stumble through life only operating within the confines of your comfort zone, yet remained mystified by what’s keeping you from becoming radically successful.

Then what happens?

You begin making excuses, invite denial, ultimately spend your free time thinking about the changes you need to make without ever executing a plan, and end up hating yourself for the rest of the year.

That’s why zero deviation is mandatory.

In order to achieve this state of control you need to make a few mindset shifts. 

Actually, there are three…



When you ask people what happiness looks like, the vast majority don’t describe working their asses off every day including weekends, challenging the status quo, or experiencing the public humiliation of failing miserably at something new over and over again.


It’s usually some fake ass description of clear, blue ocean water, toes in the sand, and a margarita or whatever ice-cold beverage is on tap.

The dirty truth that no one says out loud is that most people choose the lazy path in life. 

These same lazy people bitch about how hard they have it across all social media platforms, from the comfort of their couch, while channel surfing mindlessly with their hand in a bag of fucking Doritos.

The reality is they don’t like to do the incredibly difficult shit that would make real progress in their life because they never planned on executing any real plan to begin with.

Instead, they beat their victim drum while standing in line to buy their ticket for the next physician burnout retreat, and post selfies in a downward dog with the caption “chasing happiness” convincing themselves and anyone who will listen they’re finally ready to make a change.


Like I said before, most people shy away from challenges that go beyond one dimension. 

Because it’s not sexy enough.

Because investing in yourself is a lifelong commitment.

Because once you move the needle forward in your life, it takes purpose to keep it there and intention to move it forward again. 

Which means, if you want to become radically successful, you need to start acclimating yourself to the extreme and doing the real work that makes you feel like an outsider.

Now pay attention, because this next section is dedicated to the formula that will lead you to radical success.

And if you apply it every single day, you’ll get where you’re going faster…


Without strain there is no progress. That’s why you have to put forth the effort and address obstacles head on if you want to level up.

Are you going to experience failure?

Yes. Over and over again.

Are you are going to feel miserable?

Probably daily.

Are you going to land ass up in a pile of mud with everyone watching?

Hell yes.

And, some of you will try to take on this challenge and still cut corners.

Don’t fucking do this.

Radically successful surgeons do the real work.

They believe cutting corners is mentally weak.

And so do I.

They believe that their life can be anything they want it to be and they work on becoming the very best version of themselves.

And YOU can, too.

Start by answering these questions… and then doing something about it.

  • What uncomfortable situations have you been shying away from that you need to confront?
  • What is the emotional work you need to do to become a better human being?
  • What toxic relationships do you need to shed from your life right now?
  • How many times are you going to let other people talk you out of your dreams?

When you start to intentionally acclimate yourself to the extreme and examine what’s actually possible for your life, you realize an effort far beyond what you believe you are fully capable of right now.

And the benefit is a new skillset and experience you’ve never had before.

Some days will feel like your world is falling apart.

Some days you’ll want to quit.

But don’t.


Shake hands with the beast in your head and put an end to your recurring doubts with success.

This is the core of what acclimating yourself to the extreme looks like.



If you’re going to cultivate new mindset shifts, you need to understand how to be outrageously consistent. 

Specifically, with your critical targets.

It’s the mastery of this concept that is going to take you from where you are to where you want to be.

But before we dive head first into critical targets and what it means, let’s first tackle the kiss of death that usually derails people slowly.

That kiss of death is the complacency of life. 

You know what I mean by complacency, right?

The unexciting, lack of variety that fills up your day that you ineffectively attempt to avoid.

In life, it’s the complacency that causes most people to stop hitting their critical targets, shrug their shoulders and say, “Well, at least I gave it the ol’ college try.”

The raw truth is, this is just a way to justify their lack of effort and celebrate moral victories. For them, it’s all about saving their ego.

Critical targets are the tasks you design for yourself on a daily basis that move you one step closer to personal and professional happiness, ultimately closer to achieving radical success.

All of my clients are required to choose between three and five critical targets they tackle every single day with zero deviation.

That means each of your critical targets are performed and completed within 24 hours and when you wake up the next day, you start all over again. 

Here are some examples that my clients have chosen… daily water and vitamin intake targets, cold or heat therapy, engaging in purposeful conversations with friends or colleagues, reading 25 pages of entrepreneurship literature, running on the treadmill or other exercise for 60 minutes, checking in with an accountability partner, and so on.


If you can do this, you’ll be able to move through the complacency of life because you’re focused. 

And when you’re focused your ability to be consistent increases.

Even if a hurricane is headed in your direction. 

Even when life punches you in the damn throat. 

And especially through the days you’re questioning yourself and asking, “Is all of this even worth it?”

In order to help you move forward, I want to give you three tips that can help you choose the right critical targets and avoid the dreaded start-stop pattern.

TIP #1: Choose critical targets that move the needle:

Stop chasing 5% marginal gains. If you want to make a radical shift in life, choose critical targets that align with that goal. 

Critical targets focus attention. And focused attention makes us more motivated and persistent. 

So, ask yourself where you need to be more focused and attentive in your life right now that will make the biggest difference.

And, if figuring out which critical targets you need to choose is overwhelming for you, think about it this way…

The worst place to be when you’re looking to level up in your life, is the exact same place one year from now.

If you choose the right critical targets for your life, you’ll become an outlier in the sea of sameness. 

You know why?

Because everyone else is literally waiting around for someone else to knock on their door with opportunity and tell them what to do.

That’s why you need to choose three to five critical targets that you are going to commit to, focus on, and master every single day.

Whether you feel like it or not.


TIP #2: Implement structure:

The brain is a prediction engine. It’s always trying to foretell what is going to happen next and subsequently how much energy will be required.

Give your critical targets more structure and you give your pattern recognition system a purpose.

That’s why having push notifications or reminders set on your phone or electronic device will help eliminate your need to remember your critical targets. 

After a while, they will become routine and you won’t have to think about it anymore.

TIP #3: Be specific:

The human brain loves specificity. Especially when you’re trying to shift your mindset. That’s why your critical targets need to drill down to the core of what you’re trying to accomplish. 

If you’re aiming to become more radically successful in your personal life by trying to lose weight, your critical target wouldn’t be, “I’m going on a diet,” or “I’m going to choose healthy meal options from now on.”

Be. More. Specific.

Specific Target = I want to weigh 197 lbs. and have 8% body fat.

If you want the largest increase in motivation around your critical targets, stop being vague and start getting detailed. 

Now figure out three to five critical tasks you want to set in your life and start becoming outrageously consistent with them, today.

That’s what winners do.



In life, obsession gets a bad rap.

That’s not surprising.

It can be hard to understand how repetitive thoughts coupled with feelings that certain actions must be performed in order to move ahead is actually beneficial. 

But the fact that such thoughts and feelings are difficult to understand doesn’t make them inherently bad. 

Why is obsession so important to understand when making a mindset shift?

The real world isn’t a playground. It’s survival of the fittest. 

Radically successful people survive and adapt, unsuccessful ones do not. 

And since nature is guided by the invisible hand of natural selection, you need to submit yourself to an equivalent discipline.

The people who separate themselves from the herd… and win BIG in life… are people who don’t constantly suppress and deny what they truly want.

They double down on their obsessions.

They’re willing to trade every waking moment to achieve their most ambitious desires.

Not just Monday during clinic.

Not just during the hours of 9am – 3pm.

Not just Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Every hour of every single day around the fucking clock until they surpass their next highest level and achieve radical success.

If you obsess about your critical targets, you end up getting so much more out of yourself.

And if you discipline your obsession, you’ll gain everything you want and your life will begin to change.

You know the change I’m talking about?

That change you notice in someone else at the office but not quite sure what exactly it is.

You just know they’ve committed to something – mentally, physically, financially, or spiritually – and they’re happier.

That kind of obsession is jaw dropping.

Ultimately, that’s what makes this job so damn amazing. I love having a front row seat to someone’s mental and human transformation and subsequently their life.

The improvements my clients experience range from better team cohesion in their medical practice, to stronger relationships with their spouse or children, to tightening up their physical health or physique, to doubling their income in less than a year, and so on.

But all of that is just surface level confirmation that a much deeper change has occurred. 

That’s why disciplined obsession is one of the three required mindset shifts.

After all, disciplined obsession keeps you up at night in all the good ways. 

So go ahead… get obsessed!



Now is your time to level up, not quit.

Let the other guys quit.

The other guys are too lazy or scared to put in the work.

And they’ll spend their entire lives running away saying, “I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.”

That’s why they’ll never be the 1%.

But also remember this:

Your situation is not unique.

You are not the only person who has drawbacks in life.

You are not the only person wondering “Do I even have what it takes?”

There are millions of people who have to deal with disadvantages ten times worse than you, yet they get up, push harder, and get shit done.

The door of opportunity is wide open.

Stop expecting someone to drag your ass through it. 

If you truly want to become radically successful…

You have to acclimate yourself to the extreme.

You have to be outrageously consistent on a daily basis.

You have to get obsessed about your critical targets like someone possessed.

And you have to do this with a zero fucking deviation mentality.

And as you embark on this journey, you’ll be able to detect very quickly, the gap between you and everyone else widening.

You cannot forget…

We are meant to feel fear.

We are meant to struggle.

We are meant to be tested.

We are meant to get back up and try again.

All of this is necessary for you to build the life of your dreams.

And then one day you’re going to figure it out.

The radically successful surgeons you look up to and want be like…

…are just normal people who made the necessary mindset shifts and worked their assess off every single day.

I’m talking about the real work that no one sees or celebrates.

I’m talking about the emotional work that makes you feel like a fucking outsider.

You can do better than you’re doing now. 

We all can. 

That’s a fact.

I firmly believe that no matter what your circumstances are, where you came from, or how old or young you are, you can achieve anything.

I’ve invited so many doctors to dive into their journey head first, make three mindset shifts, and do the real work that moves the needle in their life.

Now, I’m inviting you.


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