Dr. Carla Fowler of THAXA

Dr. Carla Fowler of THAXA

At Present At Present
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1: What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage it?

I have a continuous process in my brain that sees and acknowledges fears, but I try to make plans ahead of the curve. I worry, “is something bad going to happen in the future? If this bad thing happens, will I be prepared?”

I worry about uncertainty. You can’t predict what will happen but I try to think about what I can control. My next thought is, “what would I actually do?” I try not to spend a lot of time on things I can’t control. There’s so much great stuff to do in life and most of it is uncertain. Most of me says you can’t spend a lot of time swimming in that pool or there are things that you don’t get to experience even if they don’t turn out well.

2: How do you define success?

I think a lot in terms of potential. For a good chunk of my life I’ve been interested in challenging myself and surprising myself in terms of what I’m capable of. Some of success is related to accomplishing goals, but a piece of it is not just about that result, it’s about uncovering in myself capabilities, grit, perspective, or how to deal with getting to the goal. Sometimes I can feel really successful even if a goal has to change or if I’m “not successful”. Whether the thing succeeds or fails, I just unearthed a whole treasure chest of things I can draw upon next time. If I didn’t hit the goal, maybe I need a better methodology next time. I think a lot about whether I’m growing and changing and how that impacts what I’m capable of in the future?

3: Who are your real-life heroes?

There are a few people who very much influenced me to become who I am today. People who pushed me or gave me the opportunity to really develop my capabilities and discover my true potential. Notably, all of these people were doing hard things themselves.

My parents, to start. The longer I live, I’ve come to realize that so many of the things I’ve learned came from them. My parents took us backpacking as kids growing up. That was my first true experience of grit. Sometimes you are in a situation and hey, you don’t like it, and it’s up to you to get out of it yourself as a five year old. It turns out no one is going to carry you or your stuff. You learn through that experience that you can do it and there are moments in life when you discover that that is your only option.

I had a middle school teacher who ran an alternative PE class that consisted of seemingly ridiculous physical challenges. Like walking around the 55 miles of Lake Washington. She had us all out doing endurance challenges like biking, hiking, and running. She was very strict and no one was out of line in that class. Everyone was a little afraid of her. She taught us that we were all capable of more than we thought. To run that kind of class is kind of counter-culture and she made our parents come along on these adventures!

The last person is probably my PhD advisor. He was a seminal person in teaching me how to think about a problem. The further I go in life the more I realize there isn’t a playbook for everything. The more you can think about an unstructured problem and the more you can think about the questions to ask, the more equipped you are for life and what happens. I chose to leave a medical path, which is very scripted, to go doing my own thing, which wasn’t very common in my field. But I think my sense of confidence came from that training - how to think about and solve unstructured questions.

4: What is the best gift you've given yourself?

I honestly think the best gift I’ve given myself was 11 years ago when I took the time to really look at and think about what I really want for my life. I was in a surgical residency at Stanford, my first choice residency program, and engaged to my now husband. I asked myself, is this where I think I can have the most impact and what do I want my days to look like? What’s the work I want to do? Giving myself permission to say, “no, this is not it” and “no you don’t have to keep doing this” was the greatest gift I’ve given myself . You can choose to do something else. It doesn’t matter that no one leaves medicine, particularly at that point. It was the gift of allowing myself to change my ambitions, to find more satisfying work, and to choose a multi-channel life. I love sports and I love being outside. I couldn’t see how that would fit together with that flavor of career. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t have a satisfying and interesting career. It was both a gift and a load to carry.

5: What was the last win you celebrated?

This year, I just made an amazing spreadsheet to track what it means to have a successful practice. There is the professional aspect of whether the coaching is good, but there are all kinds of other numbers that matter. When I started this practice 11 years ago, I had an idea of what it meant to have a successful practice, and this year I hit my goal. Actually, I didn’t just hit it, I wildly surpassed it. One of the ways I often celebrate is with experiences. I’ve been doing a lot of skiing lately. I take the last two weeks of the year off to give myself some “me time” at the end of the year. And I bought myself some cute earrings - mementos are great too. Sometimes it’s just nice to memorialize things and that’s the great thing about jewelry. Gifts that link to memories or that you can associate with your accomplishments are invaluable.

About Dr. Carla Fowler

Dr. Carla Fowler is an MD PhD and elite executive coach. She founded her firm, THAXA, out of a passion for performance science, where the fields of strategy, productivity, and psychology intersect. THAXA’s scientific approach to individualized coaching combines the latest research from performance science with timeless best practices to help CEOs, entrepreneurs, and other senior leaders level up and achieve their goals.

Carla's Picks: Magical Strawberry Donut, The Gold Circle LocketLa Plage Necklace, Grey Diamond Suki Ear Huggers

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