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Leading with Determination: WebMD’s Dr. Paul


We’ve all heard “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Well, if that holds true, then Paul Seville, MD, MBI, CPHIMS, has super strength.  A urological surgeon turned medical informatics expert, Dr. Paul has survived FIVE brushes with death.  Here’s a quick run-down:

  1. Malpractice. A pediatrician’s erroneous medical judgment led to a severe chronic kidney infection; rendering Dr. Paul to lose both healthy kidneys and be subjected for years to dialysis.
  2. Surgery. In 6th grade, he received a cadaveric kidney from a motorcyclist’s death.
  3. Surgery. Once the first donated kidney reached its longevity, his sister donated her kidney to him.
  4. Car Crash. A speeding, drunk, uninsured, twice-deported illegal resident crashed into Dr. Paul’s car head-on while he was driving around a corner, placing him in the hospital for a couple of days as he urinated blood.
  5. Bike Accident/Brain Surgery. The ecologically conscious doctor was bicycling to work with his helmet on, when something happened to the bike and he ended up head first onto the pavement.  He had 2” by 3” of his skull removed to suction out the coagulated blood that was pushing the left side of his brain towards the right, and now has titanium filling the rectangular space.

Dr. Paul is one of the several medical doctors who have endorsed the newest Leadership Development program created by Corporate Looking Glass, LLC, which is Blue Health™.  While he currently resides in Portland, Oregon, he is originally from the only Blue Zone in the USA, Loma Linda, California.  He read my blog 10 Traits of a Positive Thinker: #7 DETERMINATION, and recognized how he leads with determination.

One of the amusing stories he shared with me is how he was conducting rounds as a hospitalist, and entered a room where the adult daughter of a patient was angrily waiting.  “My father has gone through a lot of pain, and you have NO idea what he has gone through!” she yelled at Dr. Paul.  He calmly addressed her concerns about her father’s post-op care.  She continued to rant about her presupposed belief of Dr. Paul’s inability to relate to her father’s condition.  Formerly ashamed of the long scars Dr. Paul’s surgeons left on his sides (#1 above) when he was a small boy, he opened his white lab coat, lifted his shirt, and revealed the monstrously large cicatrix – which appear as though he was sliced open from front to back on both sides…only because he was.  He answered, “I know what your father is going through, because I went through it myself.  And, multiple times.”

How many doctors can say that?  How many doctors have been on both ends of the knife?

Furthermore, how many of us can say we get back up on our feet to serve others when we could be consumed with our personal needs?  Former Vietnam Prisoner of War (POW) General Admiral James Stockdale said, “Self-realization cannot be achieved without service to the community.” Dr. Paul no longer practices surgery, but continues to serve others with his expertise at WebMD.

Stockdale: “The pre-Socratic Heraclitus said the development of the heart has to do with the capacity to face and experience reality.  The capacity for that experience is also the capacity for courage.  The heart wills, it is the seat of conscience, it introduces purpose.” (See blog on Purpose).

Dr. Paul championed many years of childhood taunts, only to be the bully’s champion in the operating room.  Epictetus (the ancient Greek philosopher): Difficulties are what show men’s character.

When asked how Dr. Paul feels about the mistake his surgeons made when he was a little boy, he echoes Epictetus: “It is unthinkable that one man’s error could cause another’s suffering.  There can be no such thing as being the ‘victim’ of another.  You can only be a victim of yourself.  It’s all how you discipline your mind.”

New Year is not the only time when you can begin anew.


Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners.  We increase retention.  Visit

© Rossina Gil, 2015


Stockdale, Jim. Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot.


Athletic C-Suite


As an external contractor to EY (Ernst & Young) and former college tri-athlete (run, bike, swim), I am pleased to see EY’s latest global survey conducted on female leadership.*



52% of the C-Suite women played a sport at the university level, compared to 39% of women at other management levels. (Only 3% of C- suite women said they had never played a sport).

These high-level executive women have learned to “stay in the game” by keeping their “eye on the ball.” In other words, athletic executives know how to work on the task with talented colleagues by focusing on their colleagues’ capabilities; not their personality.  This leads to goal achievement and project completion.  Emotional pettiness is pushed to the sidelines.


Athleticism Leads to Positive Role Models

EY’s findings follow much of the Top 10 leadership traits of positive thinkers in business. Based on Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s work in positivity, Scott Ventrella wrote, “Positive thinkers are tough-minded, reality-based people who blast through problems with energy and zeal.”

Here’s a quick review:

  1. Optimism.  EY found that when the pressure is on, athletes will not be let down.
  2. Enthusiasm.  EY found that athletes demonstrate greater abilities in motivating others.
  3. Belief.  EY found that athletes’ belief in themselves show as ambition and drive. See Michael Jordan’s road to success in 30 seconds:
  4. Integrity.  EY found athletic executives demonstrate a strong “work ethic.” Their word and readiness to “play fair” is uncompromising in the quest to gain a true victory. Former President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity.  Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on…a football field…or in an office.”
  5. Courage.  EY found that 74% describe “competitive” as an asset to their leadership style.  From the battle of brain versus brawn, in David & Goliath, to the modern-day conference meeting, it takes courage to compete and enter an arena where you know there are higher-ranked “players” &/or you are out-numbered by “combatants.”
  6. Confidence.  EY found that the executive women surveyed considered the most important contributors to their current career success included confidence.
  7. Determination.  EY found that athletes are seen as inspiring because of their hard work and determination.
  8. Patience.  EY found that team building and communication skills were developed by sport.  These processes require patience as the Initiator acquires the skill to enable these, and the teammate recognizes the intent behind the approach as the Initiator finesses her leadership.
  9. Calmness.  EY found that most executives believe sport helps them “unwind.”  Losing the mounting pressures from the day by loosening the tightened muscles provides a sense of calmness.
  10. Focus.  EY found that 37% say sport helps them focus on their work.
  11. (I add) Curiosity.  EY found “superior problem-solving ability” to be among their athletic executives. A curious mind leads to an agile mind.


Two Personal Lessons from Sports

  1. High School. There were not enough girls interested in varsity volleyball or basketball (my two favorite team sports) to form two teams.  So, I asked our sole Physical Education (P.E.) Coach if I could try out for boys’ varsity.  He told me no.  I deliberately asked, “Are you saying that I can’t be on varsity, even if I’m better than some of the guys?” Yes. TRANSLATION TO WORKPLACE: Sometimes you may be the best person for the job, and the position will go to someone else.
  2. College. We were required to take a co-ed Health course, which included a two-mile run.  Given that running was my strength, I was at the head of the pack – not the first, but in the top 5.  Upon completion, while those who cleared the finish were hacking and my breath rate was fairly normal, a male classmate approached me and shared, “Here I was running as hard as I could, thinking that I was doing well, and when I looked ahead and saw a woman several runners ahead of me, I thought, ‘Hey! I have to beat her!’”  I replied, “Why not beat the person ahead of you?  The head of the pack?  Your own best personal time?”  (The next closest female classmate, who was mid-pack, shared the same sentiment to me later). TRANSLATION TO WORKPLACE: Sometimes people will use you as a benchmark for their success, to affirm their own identity and out of whatever other subjective reasons.

The ball’s in your court now.


Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and the founder of Corporate Looking Glass – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners.  We increase retention.  Visit

©Rossina Gil, 2014



Ventrella, Scott, The Power of Positive Thinking in Business.


*”The research report, Making the connection: women, sport and leadership, based on a global online survey of 400 women executives, was conducted by Longitude Research across Europe, the Americas and Asia-Pacific, with the top five responding countries being Brazil, Canada, China, the UK and the United States. Half (49%) of those surveyed were in the C-suite, meaning that they serve on the board of directors at a company or in another C-level position, such as CEO, CFO or COO. The remaining 51% surveyed were in other management positions.”

10 Traits of a Positive Thinker: #7 DETERMINATION


This blog addresses Determination in Leadership.  It is the 7th trait in the 10 traits of a positive thinker. They are the following:  1. Optimism, 2. Enthusiasm, 3. Belief, 4. Integrity, 5. Courage, 6. Confidence, 7. Determination, 8. Patience, 9. Calmness, 10. Focus.  These 10 traits were determined by positive psychology author Scott Ventrella.

If you can answer “yes” to the following questions, you may be a leader who shows determination…

  • Do I have the quality of being able to stick to plans and projects?
  • Do I rise to the occasion when goals seem out of reach?
  • Do I summon up the energy needed to see a job through?
  • Do I create a mental plan to get a task done?
  • Do I stick to the task so that I don’t have to over-rely on others finishing my job for me?

Determination comes from the Latin determinare, which means “to settle conclusively.”  What have you settled conclusively upon?  Has it been to recover your physical health or shape?  (See war veteran Arthur’s transformation:  Has it been to have peace of mind? (Check out Mindful-Based Stress Reduction expert Elmo Shade:  Has it been to become the professional you imagine yourself to be?  (See blog: Ergo Sum: Practicing Healthy Self-Talk,


Sometimes the motivators for determining a task/goal to its finish are internal (where you alone are the primary definer of your satisfaction, success, and achievement) and sometimes the motivators are external (where other people and external stimuli are the primary motivators of your satisfaction, success, and achievement).  Either way, they are rooted to your EMOTIONS, THOUGHTS, and BEHAVIORS that together compile your learning experience.

Here are some Internal Motivators:

  1. Enjoyment/Passion.
  2. Knowledge/Skills.
  3. Fit/Acceptance.

Here are some External Motivators:

  1. Money/Rewards.
  2. Colleagues/Friends.
  3. Recognition/Title.

Whatever your driver(s) may be, Determination is about not giving up.  Thomas Edison said: Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.

Allow yourself to sweat.  Glisten, listen, and learn.

Thank you.

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, author, cultural analyst, coach, speaker, and facilitator.


Scott Ventrella, The Power of Positive Thinking in Business (New York, NY: Fireside), 2001. (pp. 69-71, 128-129)

©Rossina Gil, 2013