The Right Music: 3 Suggestions

A few weeks ago I walked into my surgeon’s office to the sounds of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing.” No Muzak. And the waiting room was filled with old and young. When I entered his examination room, we talked about music and he effortlessly demonstrated for a resident how to assess for the presence of pain by approaching from the side and gently touching the area of likely concern. “There’s no need to overdo it, just help the patient reduce their anxiety while gaining their trust. It’s very simple.” It was a great visit punctuated by more Jimi and Stevie Ray.

There is a risk in how Dr. Robertson approaches his patients, including the music, but I think of it quite the opposite. He is totally aligned with his craft, and he is confident. If someone walked out of his office because they were offended by the lyrics of “Foxy Lady,” I don’t think he would chase them down to apologize and put on the Ray Coniff Singers instead.

If you want to be remarkable you have to:

  • Bring yourself and your passion to the helping professions without intending to offend someone. There is a big difference between trying to make a point and letting customers make a choice.
  • Demonstrate competence and build trust over time. The combination of an open environment (the resident said, “he is so good” and “I am learning so much”) with competence (“I’ve performed over 2000 of these surgeries with only one bleeding issue, but we knew about it ahead of time and kept him overnight”).
  • Create your own community of respect. When I mentioned his name everyone said, “he’s the best.”

Dr. Robertson’s practice of medicine reminds me of the message in Seth Godin’s We Are All Weird – offer people more choices that reflect their own unique values and you can successfully compete against the conformity of a mass-market-driven world.

As they wheeled me into surgery, I was already partly sedated. Dr. Robertson promised “Little Wing” and more from his extensive Hendrix collection during the surgery. Afterwards, I really didn’t remember but it made no difference, because the music was just right.