On New Year’s Eve, looking for light entertainment, my husband and I watched the movie La La Land. I loved the musical, which explores the pain and joy of pursuing your dreams. An unexpected surprise was that the film represents a lesson in resilience needed for physician leadership.

In between auditions, Mia, an aspiring actress (portrayed by Emma Stone), serves café lattes to movie stars. Since childhood when her aunt took a whole day to “play” actress with her, Mia knew acting was her dream. For six years, with the support of her roommates, also aspiring actresses, Mia auditioned. She was acting on faith, as there was no evidence yet for success.

Tears of recognition rolled down my cheeks at the following quotes, embodying situations we face as women in leadership:

“You have to see things a little differently…”

“They need us to do this…”

“It’s the only way to move jazz forward.,.”

Sometimes we feel a little crazy because we see things differently. We keep getting back up if we are knocked down, because our perspective and experience are important.

The Hollywood-focused movie has analogies to how women physicians become effective leaders:

  1. Mentors and champions: Mia had her aunt as a role model – someone to light the flame in her heart. Other women and men, whether in medicine or not, can inspire you.
  2. A supportive network: Mia returned from disappointing auditions to roommates who knew what she was going through. Who do you have to bolster your self-confidence and remind you of your value?
  3. Build your skills: In committee meetings and conversations with colleagues, use the discussions like auditions to practice your skills and receive feedback.
  4. Your perspective matters: Although different from others, your ability to see beyond either/or thinking is just what medicine needs to catalyze progress.

There is no script to physician leadership. If leadership is how you want to make a difference, honor your dream, and pursue it. Step forward and believe you will find the people and opportunities that will support you. Things will unfold in amazing ways!

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