Roy Spence: 'You Are the Future of Medicine'

Oct. 26, 2014:

Roy Spence

By Laura Selby

The purpose of life, according to Aristotle, is to do good and be happy. DOs are lucky, Roy Spence told the audience at OMED's Opening General Session, because the osteopathic medical profession offers so much opportunity to do both. "You wake up with this purpose: to improve the health and wellbeing and life of every person you touch," he told attendees. "That is a mighty purpose."

Tapping Into Your Strengths

Spence, who founded the Purpose Institute and authored It's Not What You Sell, It's What You Stand For, emphasized the importance of recognizing and leveraging your own unique strengths. He told of receiving a C on a middle school writing exam on which he'd spelled several words incorrectly. On his next exam, he misspelled even more words, but received an A-. Puzzled, he consulted his mother, herself a teacher, who informed him he was a terrible speller but a good writer. 'I don't want you to spend another minute trying to be average at what you're bad at. Work on being great at the things you're good at," she told him.

How DOs 'Care For the Whole You'

In celebrating DOs' commitment to treating the whole patient, Spence shared the story of his older sister, who was diagnosed with spina bifida at a time when the average life span for patients with the condition was two months. His sister, however, attended college and lived to be 49, one of the longest lives in history for a spina bifida patient. DOs' commitment to "caring for the whole you," Spence said, reminds him of the way his mother cared for his sister and the extraordinary outcomes that resulted.

Living the Golden Rule

Spence also shared lessons he's learned on the road to success. He recalled going to the bank as a new college grad in the 1970s, seeking the $5,000 loan he needed to start a business with two friends. "I went down to the bank wearing a new tie-dye shirt, and my ponytail looked fabulous," he deadpanned, drawing chuckles from the audience. To his surprise, and despite a less-than-robust business plan, he was granted the loan. Only later did he learn that a college mentor had co-signed the loan, but insisted on doing so quietly so that Spence wouldn't know of his involvement. Spence's takeaway: "On the road to purpose, if someone helps you, you help someone else."