Learn to live—and lead—intentionally at Connexity

When it comes to practice culture, you can either lead or be led.

According to veterinarian, psychologist, and Connexity by AAHA learning facilitator, John Jacobson, DVM, PhD, MS, a leader’s behavior influences the people and the practice culture, not the other way around.

“When the leader is aware of unhelpful psychological processes that we all experience as part of the human condition, they are more able to respond intentionally in service of the culture they would like to create,” he said.

AAHA recently asked Jacobson about the topics he’ll be covering at Connexity by AAHA, why “culture” and “wellbeing” are more than buzzwords, and his tips for living the best life possible.

What will you be talking about at Connexity by AAHA?

In my session, “Intentional Leadership: Leading by Living the Life You Want,” we’ll learn how tools like  cognitive behavior therapy, mindfulness, and motivational interviewing can help leaders live their best lives—and inspire the same from those around them.

Why is this message so critical to the veterinary profession right now?

There has been a growing awareness of psychosocial distress and suicide in the veterinary community. In response, awareness has shifted from mental health problems toward a focus on improving personal wellbeing and workplace culture. This shift can encourage brainstorming to address sources of occupational distress while also improving quality of life in the veterinary community.

Even in the healthiest of workplaces, however, we are prone to detect perceived problems and create our own distress. The human brain is designed to automatically monitor for threats and use distorted language to influence behavior. Intentional living creates space to practice using accurate language in service of the lives we want. Now more than ever, the veterinary community needs authentic leaders who are willing to model and foster physical, mental, and spiritual health as well as their practice of veterinary medicine.

What excites you about Connexity by AAHA?

Connexity by AAHA recognizes the greatest benefits of attending a conference occur between participants—and between sessions. The interactivity facilitated at Connexity by AAHA will enhance guests’ success in their quality of practice and quality of life.

What’s the secret to living intentionally?

Don’t believe everything you think. Put less effort into getting away from what you don’t want in your life and instead, practice going intentionally toward where you want your life to be. Here are a few tips: 

  • When you doubt an idea for change, challenge yourself to identify the very first step, execute it, and discover what happens. See yourself taking action toward change without getting stuck on the result. 
  • Commit to catching yourself being successful in living the life you want using the most accurate language you can muster. You’ll also notice the ways in which you aren’t living the life you want. Each time you do, acknowledge it, and return your attention toward catching yourself being successful. 
  • Pick one coworker to pay greater attention to tomorrow. Practice using accurate language to describe the ways in which they contribute to making the practice successful. Keep these observations to yourself. Note how even the ordinary things make a difference. You’ll also notice the ways in which you perceive this person is not contributing. Each time you do, acknowledge it, and return your attention toward paying attention to the ways in which they are successful.

Ready to live your best life? Don’t miss this session and more at Connexity by AAHA! Spots are going quickly—save yours now at aaha.org/connexity