Ever dream about finding a way to do what you love for a living? In my "Do What You Love" column, I ask people who've done it to tell me their secrets. Here's hoping they inspire you to do the same.
Dr. Mehmet Oz may spend his days educating Americans about their bodies and their health on his TV show, Dr. Oz. But being on television was never Dr. Oz's dream job. As a boy, he was inspired by his own father's job as a doctor, and that was what he set his mind to be.
Today, Oz inspires millions to take better care of themselves by empowering them with knowledge about their own bodies and how to best care for them. He says he truly loves what he does, but you might be surprised to find out what he says he'd have become if he hadn't gone to medical school.
BusinessNewsDaily: How did you end up doing this for a living?
Dr. Oz: I always wanted to be a physician. I was fascinated by the human body, and my father was a doctor. I went to medical school and entered surgery and loved every second of it. I worked on patents for mechanical hearts and worked on improving surgical protocols and techniques. I was a transplant surgeon and loved surgery, performing well over 5,000 operations. I would have been perfectly happy doing surgery the rest of my life. But what was nagging at me was that most of the people I operated on could have avoided the surgery altogether if they just knew a few simple things.
My turning point came when I visited a woman after surgery to see her celebrating by eating fast food. I went home discouraged, and my wife Lisa encouraged me to move towards television as a way to teach and reach people to show them how to save their own lives. We created a show called "Second Opinion" for Discovery Channel, and my first guest was Oprah Winfrey. She invited me on her show afterwards, and that lead to many return visits, until one day she told me it was time to have my own show. At each point, I needed to grow and move myself out of my comfort zone, but it always paid off in a big way — I grew as a host, doctor, father, husband ....
And now I feel very privileged to lead our national conversation on health.
BND: What was the crucial decision you made that led you to this place in life?
Dr. Oz: I decided I wanted to be a heart surgeon when I was 7 and when my dad and I were in an ice cream shop and he asked [a] boy what he wanted to be when he grew up. The boy was indecisive, and it prompted my dad to tell me, "You can be anything you want, but have direction and do your best." My life sharpened into focus after that.
Indecision is toxic. You can change careers, you can change jobs. You can never regain the lost time spent in being indecisive.
BND: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Dr. Oz: As a child, I would join my father, who is also a physician, on his rounds at the hospital. I saw how he'd make his patients smile, even when they were in pain. I was fascinated by biology. I never considered television. That came much later.
BND: Why do you love your job?
Dr. Oz: I love my job because people use the information we discuss and the put it into practice in their own lives. In the hospital, I get to look into people's eyes in the moments when they need someone the most and say, “I am here for you, and I will be helping.” That is very fulfilling. It's a spiritual calling that pushes me to be my absolute best. Medicine also involves the thrill of discovery, the rigidity of science and the art of communication. Believe me, it’s NEVER boring.
BND: What's the biggest misconception about your job?
Dr. Oz: The biggest misconception is that there are no similarities between being a heart surgeon and a talk show host. While they are different, I surround myself with experts in their respective fields, and they help me do my job.
BND: If you didn't do your job, whose job would you like to have and why?
Dr. Oz: Professional football player. I played football in college and love the sport.
BND: Do you think having a job you love has made you a better person in other areas of your life?
Dr. Oz: I think people should pursue their passions. Our time on the Earth is finite, and you'll succeed the most if you are passionate about what you are doing. Also, if you love what you do, the challenging parts won't feel like work. There is no greater achievement than to be doing what you love doing. You will be more useful to your loved ones and overall a very happy person.
BND: What's your best advice to other people who are trying to pursue their career dreams?
Dr. Oz: Never, ever give up. Just stay the course. Slow and steady wins the race, and enjoy the journey.
Jeanette Mulvey has been writing about business for more than 20 years. Know someone who loves what they do? Tweet me @jeanettebnd with the hashtag #dowhatyoulove.