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Professional, Personal Success Linked to Knowing Yourself and Achieving Your Goals

    Cornwall 200x200
        G. Bryan Cornwall,
    Ph.D., PEng

Keys to professional and personal success include leveraging your particular individual strengths, as well as setting and achieving your goals. As demands upon our time continually increase in a world that never slows down, these “life hacks” provided by orthopaedic industry veteran G. Bryan Cornwall, Ph.D., MBA, PEng, were both relevant and relatable to his OMTEC® 2018 audience earlier this year.

Dr. Cornwall is eminently familiar with the orthopaedic device professional perspective. He worked at NuVasive from startup (venture capital-backed with ~10 employees and zero revenue in 1999) to a global spine player, with more than $1 billion in market capitalization.

Dr. Cornwall has called upon subsequent decades of training and managerial experience (including 20 years in the medical device industry), along with his academic credentials (mechanical engineering professor) to back up a position from which he can share insights that helped him successfully hone his professional and personal development skills.

I found Dr. Cornwall’s OMTEC presentation to be informative, enlightening and thought-provoking. The following represents what I felt were his most impactful points. In knowing the challenges that orthopaedic professionals like you often tell us that you face, I believe that you, too, will find these points to be useful in your daily endeavors.

Point #1: To effectively leverage your strengths and perform better, you need to understand YOU.

“The better you understand you, the more productive you can be,” Dr. Cornwall stated in his presentation. What does that mean? Simply put, it is impossible to capitalize upon your strengths if you are unaware of your strengths. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What inspires me?

  • What motivates me?

  • What am I good at?

  • What am I passionate about?

Dr. Cornwall reiterated throughout his presentation that having a solid understanding of you is critical for any kind of success. Think of this level of self-understanding as building a house upon a solid foundation; without it, the rest will crumble.

Another point that Dr. Cornwall made was that unless you nurture and take care of yourself, you are not in a position to take care of other people. For example, in air travel, recall that part of the pre-flight safety instructions in case of an emergency include the directive to put your oxygen mask on first before helping someone else with their mask. In other words, you can’t rescue someone if you aren’t breathing. We’ve all heard this one, but think of this “taking care of you” example when it comes to your job—how can you add value to your team, if you are not taking the necessary steps to nurture your own development, and assess and grow your own strengths?

Engaging in your own professional development (training programs, enhancing skill sets, etc.) is one avenue to take to improve one’s financial position and increase earnings potential. For this reason, “your most important financial asset is your job,” Dr. Cornwall said. “Someone is paying you to do something, so be good at your job and what you do. This goes back to understanding yourself and what you’re good at, so you can deliver the best of yourself—the best of you—to who is paying you.”

When it comes to individual strengths and ways to utilize yours for personal and professional success, Dr. Cornwall recommends the following books:

Point #2: Set goals, write them down, and then…achieve them.

When we make the effort to set goals, and especially when we write them down, we are forced to contemplate the initiatives that we want to achieve and the ways that we plan to achieve them. One advantage of goal setting is that it makes us decide what kind of life we want to live, rather than leave it to chance.

Your goals should be specific, with the end result stated clearly: do not be vague. To this end, Dr. Cornwall suggests recording all goals and then checking progress at specific intervals, be it weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually. Assessing your goals and whether or not you accomplished them, and why, is important for optimized productivity at your job.

Part of this optimized productivity is execution and trust. “If you are recognized as an executor,” Dr. Cornwall explained, “someone who can get things done, your value in the organization is huge and is critically important.” Trust by colleagues/supervisors in your ability to execute is also crucial for reaching the success you seek to attain. “Trust is a learned behavior,” Dr. Cornwall said. “As you trust yourself and demonstrate a track record for success, people learn to trust you in return.“

When looking at productivity and the achievement of established goals within your organization (and at home, for that matter), it is critical to establish exactly what you are measuring to determine your progress, and how you measure it. To this point, Dr. Cornwall expanded upon supply chain management solutions and the difference between Lag and Lead measures. In this case, a Lag measure is an assessment of a product that has already been manufactured. While it is imperative to evaluate completed products, nothing can be done about the end result; that occurred in the past, once the product was complete. Hence the term “lag.”

On the other hand, Lead measures are both predictive (they lead to the accomplishment of the Lag Measure or goal) and influenceable (you can do something about them). Lead measures are what can help to influence future success in manufacturing, therefore a strong focus on these measurables is recommended for supply chain personnel. He related a personal example as well: the example of trying to lose weight. The lag measure is jumping on the scale to get an assessment. The lead measures are the calories you consume, and the amount of exercise that you complete. Those two lead measures influence the lag measure: your actual weight.

Dr. Cornwall also repeatedly stressed the importance of time management when discussing goals. He emphasized the following:

  • From your company’s CEO all the way down to hard-working associates in the mailroom, everyone has the same amount of time in a day. What you do in that time counts. Train yourself to be more effective at using time; it will benefit you in every aspect of your life.

  • How much time do you spend fighting fires? Honing focus and advance planning are essential steps to success, personally or professionally. However, these steps don’t happen when a person is too busy reacting to problems and situations.

  • Avoid taking on other people’s urgencies. While we aim to be team players and pick up the slack, poor planning on someone else’s part shouldn’t always be your emergency.

Finally, to support your efforts with effective goal-setting and achievement of strategies, Dr. Cornwall recommends the following books:

Rob Meyer is ORTHOWORLD’s Senior Editor. Please send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..