Celebrate the Milestones, But Keep Your Eye on the Road Ahead
by Tonguç Yaman
Tonguç Yaman is CIO of Advocate Community Providers of New York, NY.
I will turn 50 this year. A few days after my birthday in May, my daughter will graduate from Yale, the second of my two children to earn that distinction. In October, I will graduate from Columbia University’s Executive Master of Public Health program.
I guess you could say it’s a watershed year for me, one of the biggest of my life so far. We all have them. And once the celebrations are over, I imagine we’re all faced with the same question. What’s next?
Here is what I learned as I looked for answers to that question.
It’s never too late for a new beginning
Some of us might feel inclined to stop and take a breather at 50, especially once the kids are out of school. We may think we have reached a high point that we’ll never exceed in our time on earth. As for me, I’m viewing it as a new beginning.
It’s a simple construct. Fifty is half of my life. Sure, it’s a milestone, but it doesn’t scare me. I’ll admit I am tickled to be at a point in my life where I have no dependents. My son and daughter are well on their way to taking their places in the workforce and the world. While I have strong relationships with my children and see them often, there is a level of excitement, a feeling of freedom now that they are adults.
I don’t want to waste that feeling of freedom. I want to channel it in constructive ways and put it to good use.
The opportunity to focus is a gift
There is an even greater excitement in the fact that I recently began a new phase of my career, a phase that I have envisioned for a very long time. I am no longer simply an IT guy, but a healthcare professional, a CIO for a very exciting organization in NYC brimming with possibilities.
When I was a kid growing up in Turkey, I dreamed of becoming a medical doctor, so this move into healthcare feels as if I have come full circle. Our dreams get tweaked as we get older, but I like the way this one has turned out. Though not an exact match, I am still able to use my skills and experience to effect change in the healthcare sector, and probably on a much larger scale.
The transition wouldn’t mean half as much if I weren’t confident that I did everything I could to prepare myself for its challenges. That’s one of the benefits of maturity. They say good things come to those who wait, but I also believe that good things come to those who are prepared. Now I have the time, the skills, and the experience to give my new healthcare position the total focus it demands. This opportunity is a gift and I am eager to embrace it with all the dedication and energy I have.
Maturity and passion are not mutually exclusive
I’ve attended HIMSS healthcare IT conferences in previous years, but at this year’s event, something was different. Instead of observing from the sidelines, I was involved. I was invited to participate in sessions. I was a contributor. I felt respected and connected and I was able to help others make connections, too. One of these connections resulted in CHIME welcoming a new foundation member.
This ability to find the things two professionals might have in common and make a connection happen for their mutual benefit is probably the thing I am best at. While others are inspirational leaders, effective organizers,or impeccable planners, I’m a connector.
In my work with colleagues and partners, I can find win-win solutions, shape commitments between parties, challenge others to exercise their own good judgment, and solidify their trust in one another. That is very exciting to me. I heard it time and again at the HIMSS conference this year: people notice my passion. It is gratifying to be able to say that at this point in my career.
Here’s to 50
There’s a saying now that 50 is the new 30. I’m not so sure I agree. Physically, I don’t feel that much different from the way I felt at 30. But in terms of what I have learned about my industry and about myself over the past two decades, I’ll take 50 over 30 any day.