By Ari Levy, MD, an EO Chicago member and co-CEO of Engaged Health Solutions
When it comes to my business, I am excited about everything. My passion is what got me here in the first place, after all. At first, my interest in everything—from strategy sessions to the shade of orange in our logo—was essential to getting us off the ground.
Now, however, I’m leading the business into its fourth year, and things are different than leading a startup through its early stages. I’m starting to realize that I need to change some of my behaviors in order to continue to succeed. In some ways, that’s both fitting and ironic because I’m in the business of teaching others about behavior change.
My co-CEO, Will Harper, MD, and I stopped practicing medicine full-time and launched Engaged Health Solutions (EHS) because we saw a solution to a problem that’s plaguing businesses: Disengaged, unhealthy employees are dragging companies (not to mention individuals) down.
A recent study found that 71% of American workers are not engaged in their work. In our practice, we saw firsthand that personal coaching helps people engage and make lasting changes— and looking at the American workforce, we know coaching moves the needle on health and resiliency.
As EHS has continued to grow, so have I. I have had to learn to leverage my passion, let go of the small stuff, trust my team and focus on my strengths. Here are three behavior changes I am working on that I know will strengthen my company and my team:
- Focus: I am a ball of energy. Like any power source my energy needs to be used appropriately. My passion comes across in every conversation I have about EHS— a fact that is both a positive and a negative. When I am excited and energized, my passion is contagious. It inspires my team, encourages our clients and engages potential clients. When I am frustrated or a project is veering off track, that comes across as well. Rather than letting my emotions seep into a tough conversation, I am learning to lean back, listen and respond after taking a deep breath.
- Trusting My Team: As a doctor, I am accustomed to working solo. The natural inclination to try to solve problems on my own is a habit I fight. It simply doesn’t work in business. Realistically, I don’t have time to work on every single aspect of the business, and I shouldn’t because that’s not where my passion for the company can do the most good. My business partner and I have hired a team of people who have skills that we do not. We trust them to understand our vision, execute the strategy and handle day-to-day projects so we can focus on growth and client delivery.
- Slowing Down: Sometimes it’s important to stop, gain perspective and not move ahead at mach speed. It’s easy to go from interested to passionate when we’re talking about a new project, a new take on something or the big picture. And, at the beginning, everything was urgent. Now that we’re moving from startup to growth, however, I am slowing down and using the passion and sense of urgency I feel to plan ahead, think through possibilities in a deeper way and consider the right team for the right project. In some ways, it’s scarier not to jump right in. But what I have seen is that when I use my passion for a project in its early stages, everything runs more smoothly.
As an entrepreneur, my passion is my greatest asset, and knowing how best to leverage that passion can propel us to greatness.
Ari received his MD from the University of Illinois at Chicago and his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.