I broke my knee cap in Florida.
A top Orthopedic Surgeon fixed it.
After the surgery, I learned that my doctor was…
a prominent orthopedic surgeon and…
the leader of a popular rhythm and blues band!
Was this one man’s “right work”?
How would he have time for both?
Where did it all begin?
I had to find out more.
And so much more there was!
What is “right work”?
I wrote and published a book about it.
After recruiting for many years, I had found that many more people are in their wrong work than in their right work.
People who are in right work have certain qualities in common:
They are happier.
They take more risks.
They more often walk “the road less traveled.”
The first thing I did when I interviewed Dr. Morgan was to confirm that his passion for music was tightly intertwined with his commitment to medicine.
In doing so, I discovered that Dr. Randall C. Morgan is not just an average surgeon, but…
“an orthopedic surgeon who has achieved a career of excellence in service to his patients, visionary leadership in group medical practice, community and youth mentorship and leadership in several national medical organizations. He presently serves as the Executive Director of the W. Montague Cobb/National Medical Association (NMA) Health Institute. He is the founding Executive Director and has served in that position since June 2005. Dr. Morgan also served as the 95th President of the NMA from 1996-1997. He remains engaged in the practice of orthopedic surgery in Sarasota and Bradenton, FL with specialty in Pediatric Orthopedics and Adult Reconstructive Orthopedics” (http://www.thecobbinstitute.org)
And is also a...
As a youngster in Gary Indiana, in the fifties, Randall Morgan grew up as an only child. He listened to music alone in his room and the Doo Wop era had started. He sang out loud in front of the mirror in his room, mimicking the popular bands at the time. One summer, his uncle (a music teacher in Los Angeles) gave him a B Flat silver clarinet and a few lessons during a visit to California. His parents also gave him lessons for the clarinet. These were the last lessons he took. Everything else was self-taught and all during his education, he played music in bands and groups and sang in choirs. Only later, in medical school, would his dual tracking of study and music slow down to limit music performances to only twice a year.
If you don’t remember Doo Wop, you are not old enough. Those of us who grew up in the sixties and seventies are sixteen years old again the minute we hear the Platters sing “the Great Pretender,” “At the Hop” or “There’s a Moon Out Tonight”!
It was the music of our first dances and our first loves.
What I wanted to know most of all from Dr. Morgan, was how it was possible to maintain a passionate engagement with both medicine and music throughout a lifetime. I knew Dr. Morgan had earned myriads of honors and accolades for leadership in both music and medicine. I later learned he had also started a nonprofit research institute to address the issues of under served populations with diminished health care resources.
What were his secrets?
Dr. Morgan had been raised to be a hard worker. But, after working in his father’s pharmacy as a child, he realized that he didn’t want work that would require working from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. At the pharmacy, he met doctors dropping off prescriptions all through his childhood. As a result, he began to be drawn to medicine as a profession. After medical school, he realized that music appreciation was in so many of his classmates. Even in medical school, with all of the pressure for academic excellence, he hung onto music and performed twice a year. Over time, as his professional life grew, so did his commitment to music whenever it could possibly fit into his life. He told me that he had realized over time that both professions demanded the same strengths, talents and abilities. What were they?
1) The ability to perform.
2) The cultivation of innovation and creativity.
3) Leadership talent.
“What are the challenges of such passionate commitment to both music and medicine?”, I asked Dr. Morgan.
“To do music and not have it compete with patient care or create a perception of competition.” He said. “I like sometimes to travel with my music to where people don’t know I’m an MD.”
I wondered what were the values reflected in both medicine and music?
Dr. Morgan loves to help people. He told me:
“Whether it’s Rhythm and Blues or Mozart, something happens to people when they hear good music. Something happens to the body and soul’s vibration. People respond to music nostalgically; they tend to want to go ‘back home’ and what is home? Is it the location, the memories? What made it home? When I do surgery, I listen to classical music. It calms my mind. When I communicate with patients, I always want to help them understand and calm down and feel better than they felt before. I believe that medicine and music come from the same part of the brain.”
His biggest challenge? “Keeping it all together! All we have is 24 hours in a day and how does each one of us spend that time?”
I have learned that right work is directly connected to the fulfillment of current priorities as well as the utilization of talents, skills, abilities and an alignment of values. As Dr. Morgan’s personal priorities shifted, he had created “new” right work several times before in his life.
Dr. Morgan relocated to Florida in April of 2005 where he established a new orthopedic surgery practice and continued to serve all patients including those who are underserved. He is now an associate physician at Sarasota Orthopedic Associates, a prestigious specialty practice in Sarasota and Bradenton, FL. He presently serves as Clinical Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Florida State School of Medicine and as Clinical Assistant Professor of Community Medicine at the University of Connecticut Health Center. It is there that he continues to develop his research interest in health and healthcare disparities and musculoskeletal disparities as well. He has made over 200 scientific presentations and has published many peer reviewed articles and a book chapter in orthopedic surgery, health policy and health disparities. (http://www.thecobbinstitute.org)
Now, Dr. Morgan’s current priorities are shifting, and he is once again, planning a change in his right work. At age 73, he is now aware that he doesn’t want to “run as fast as he has been asked to run”.
He wants more time with family and more time to spend on music and mentoring younger musicians. He told me that the wonderful thing about both medicine and music is you can do both until you die if you manage it right.
Now, he sees that his surgery days and the high pressure demands of volume patient care will morph into more of a daytime office practice. Additionally, he will spend more time with his Cobb Research Institute leadership addressing the lack of effective minority health care delivery.
Dr. Morgan is clearly an inspiring expert in creating right work.
I asked Dr. Morgan what advice he would give the rest of us so we, too, can create lives we love as much as he loves his life. He said:
“Define what is important at this stage of your life!”
“Be inquisitive and take the road less traveled and have confidence in your choice!”
“Don’t be risk adverse”
“Be innovative. Don’t think life is a canvas that you can neatly paint on. Things happen serendipitously and the outcome depends on how you react to them.”
“Sense where you want to go and don’t need to know the details”.
“Understand that life is a creative process.”
I told Dr. Morgan that my accident with its fractured knee cap has actually allowed me to personally re-evaluate my own priorities and realize that they too were shifting for me. The most significant benefit I received however was not just the great surgery, that required me to slow down, or the extra 12 days I got to spend with my dad and his wife, but it certainly and without a shadow of a doubt, was the inspiration I received from Dr. Randall C. Morgan!
Against many odds, Dr. Morgan has tenaciously and creatively created, and continues to find and customize his right work as he now enters the seventh decade of his life.
Thank you, Dr. Morgan, for sharing your story and your inspired creation of a life you love!