By Jim McGrann, Chairman and CEO of Healthy Eyes Advantage

As CEO of Healthy Eyes Advantage (HEA), I lead a talented team that serves thousands of independent ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians across the U.S. Those Independent Eye Care Professionals (IECPs) work directly with patients, while we in the supply chain provide the tools they need to deliver optimum care — from frames to lab equipment and everything in-between. In my opinion, helping people see is a great reason to get up every morning and go to the office. It provides a sense of purpose — a goal bigger than myself that gives me the passion to lead.

In the last five years, IECPs have been impacted by heavier administrative burdens and the rise of digital health, which, in turn, have altered the provider experience. This evolving landscape has made events like the upcoming Vision Monday Global Leadership Summit and Vision Expo East all the more crucial for the industry. They provide an opportunity for all those in the eye health business to share ideas, build relationships, further our education and get some perspective on the future of the industry. For me personally, they are an opportunity to reflect on my role as a leader and the bigger purpose that brought me to this industry in the first place.

In a presentation given at Linkage’s Global Institute for Leadership Development (GILD), leadership guru Dr. Richard Leider made two impactful remarks. First, he reminded the audience of the two most important days in our lives – the day we were born and the day we figured out why we are here. He theorized that our personal “why” — the things that drive us — determine our purpose. Second, he spoke about a survey he gave to retiring executives that asked what they wished they had done differently over the course of their careers. The survey found:

  1. They wished they had been more reflective. When I first arrived at IBM in 1993, the word THINK hung in all cubicles and offices. This was part of the legacy of IBM’s second CEO, Thomas Watson Jr. He wanted IBMers to arrive at work and be more reflective before diving into their tasks for the day. This is a lesson that has always helped my ability to think beyond the day to day tasks that can dominate my time at the office.
  1. They wished they had been more courageous (taken risks). Taking risks, failing fast and learning from our mistakes are all critical to becoming a strong leader in any industry.
  1. They wished they had understood their own sense of meaning, their purpose, earlier in their careers. After Dr. Richard Leider’s presentation, I took the time to reexamine what I believe to be my purpose. I concluded that my mission, and the mission of HEA, is driven by a desire to bring people together and build robust communities within the eye care industry.

These lessons remind me of what our industry ultimately seeks to accomplish and that we have a profound ability — a purpose — to have a positive impact on an individual’s quality of life. Against this backdrop, I look forward to vibrant discussion and debate with my fellow eye care colleagues at the Global Leadership Summit and VEE.