5 Building blocks of personal innovation

August 31, 2020

Veterinary leadership expert Dr. Mia Cary shares a few key strategies for personal growth that will help you better serve your clients, your colleagues, and yourself.

Innovation is the calling card of today, according to Mia Cary, DVM, CEO and Change Agent at Cary Consulting in North Carolina. “While the word may be overused today, innovation is simply the introduction of something new,” she explained to attendees during her talk at the Fetch dvm360 virtual conference.

We need personal innovation now more than ever, Dr. Cary said. With a global pandemic on our hands and the urgent need to address systemic racism within the profession, we all need to take time to reflect. “Personal innovation is being ever evolving with the goal of bringing our best selves to everything that we do,” she said.

Here are 5 building blocks to help you jumpstart your personal growth.

1. Know your purpose and stick to it.

The first building block to personal innovation is knowing your purpose and focusing on it, said Dr. Cary. One good first step: Create a personal purpose statement. Spend time thinking about why you exist, what matters most to you, what you value, and how you want to be remembered.

Start by jotting down a few key words, which will eventually evolve into a few sentences, said Dr. Cary. Keep your list short and make sure it’s action-oriented and adaptable over time, she added.

If you already have a personal purpose statement, check to make sure it’s still valid and that your daily actions and activities still align with your purpose, Dr. Cary advised.

2. Leverage your uniqueness.

We all have characteristics that make us unique. Take time to consider what your particular attributes are and how they can help you can create value for those you serve and interact with on a regular basis, said Dr. Cary.

Consider Stephanie Jones, DVM, a Fort Lauderdale practitioner who turned her passion for helping children into Pets Help the Heart Heal, a nonprofit association whose mission is to improve the physical, social, and emotional health of children through the human-animal bond.

3. Take risks.

The most successful innovators take calculated risks, said Dr. Cary. Taking risks means being open to new ideas, approaches, and ways of thinking, and not being afraid to fail. “I like to think about [taking risks] as failing fast, failing forward, and failing often, but you keep going,” she said. Taking calculated risks:

  • Urges us to learn new skills and evolve
  • Obliterates fear
  • Boosts creativity
  • Builds trust
  • Inspires confidence
  • Inspires exploration
  • Uncovers new opportunities

4. Collaborate diversely.

Think about the people around you at home and work. Do they look, act, and think you? “If so, it’s time to branch out,” Dr. Cary said.

Do you intentionally create an environment that is welcoming to people who don’t look like you? If you’re not sure, it’s something to think about. Dr. Cary recommended having a diverse personal advisory board that can help you stay on the right track.

5. Embrace lifelong learning.

We in the veterinary profession are constantly learning, but how do you fuel your intellect outside of work? Expanding your knowledge can help you spark creative ideas that have a positive impact on your work and career, said Dr. Cary. Try listening to podcasts for example, or joining a book club. Find out what you enjoy and pursue it.