If I could talk to my younger self… with Dr. Akram Boutros

15 minutes with Akram Boutros, MD, FACHE (LC 2015)
President & CEO, The MetroHealth System

What is a piece of advice you wish somebody told you when you were younger?
You should not fear being fired because it is the world guiding you towards your strengths.  For example, a colleague of mine was let go three time from various jobs in his career. After the final termination, he reflected on his experiences and realized his strengths were not functions of those roles. He decided to gear his life towards his strongest attributes. This individual witnessed positive change. He eventually began a company, which became very successful. It is important to remember your failures are life’s great lessons.

What is a fear you try to combat in your career?
Most people are afraid to take risks. This fear leads them to construct an environment that avoids it. The irony is this path leads to more discontent and dissatisfaction in one’s life. I’ve observed throughout my life that the most successful people are those that manage risk. That is, they see their future and practice effective failing leading them towards that goal.

A poem I enjoy is Our Greatest Fear written by Marrianne Williamson. Its central message is our greatest fear is our light not our darkness. I strive to create environments centering upon my employee’s light. I work to celebrate everyone’s differences and illustrate their value to the organization or community at large.

You mention, “effective failing”. Can you explain that more clearly?
Effective failing is the understanding that success is a nonlinear path. To be successful, you need to fail small, fast, and forward. Through these minor mistakes, we comprehend areas of triumph but more importantly areas of improvement. After fixing these mistakes, we see progress and incremental steps moving us towards that vision of success.

How do you incorporate a work-life balance?
In my life, work-life balance does not function well.  Rather, I’ve found an integration of work and life is the most beneficial. This choice was motivated by my life’s purpose. That is, helping other in their lives. This is my metric for my promise of success and proving to myself the right choice is being made. I’m consistently thinking about my actions and their consequences years into the future. If the situation leads to a future I am not content with, I decide not to pursue.

Cleveland is and Why?
Cleveland is on the cusp of greatness. We all just need to imagine and take risks. I often ask people, “How can you get anywhere without imagination?”