February 1, 2020


2020 STS Presidential Address
On Life, Leadership, and the Pursuit of Happiness

During the STS 56th Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Dr. Robert S.D. Higgins delivered his Presidential Address, "On Life, Leadership, and the Pursuit of Happiness."

When asked about what attendees can expect to hear, he said:

“As I thought about my year, I thought about the lifesaving benefits of cardiac and lung cancer surgery over the past 75 years. We are continuing to grow, develop, and save lives—millions of lives—and we respect and admire that. That requires progressive leadership and learning from the past to adapt our leadership for the next generation.

This generation has different expectations, and we need to be aware of that. We also have to keep our eyes on what’s really important in our lives. Not so much the day-to-day grind, but rather, developing successful strategies to not only be satisfied in our work, but happy in our work.

In my address, I’ll refer to some of the tenets that we have as an organization—inclusion, diversity, teamwork, collaboration, and quality. All of those things need to come together to make you feel happy in the field of cardiothoracic surgery. I’ll offer some advice for people to think about, like looking for humor in life, being a teacher or a leader, learning to cultivate compassion, working in your community, and using coaching when necessary.

Those things will make what we do even that much more gratifying. That’s the message I’ll be trying to get across. One of the great quotes that I’m going to use in my talk—and there are many of them—says that life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain. And I think that’s been one of the things I have emphasized this past year.”