Brains on Fire

This is the third and final blog post in series that we entitled: #FMRevolution: The Fire Within.

In our first blog post, I examined the movie Escape Fire and its ramifications for innovative thinking and the movement toward health care transformation.

In our second blog post in the series, I drew a connection between the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire, and #FMRevolution (We are #District12!).

And now, my brain is on fire. That’s right, my brain is en fuego and I like it that way, thank you very much. Why is it burning? Because I’ve got a fever and the only cure is more #FMRevolution.

Earlier this week, an interview that I did with Greg Matthews, a group director on WCG’s healthcare team, was posted to their blog. The interview focused mostly on the #FMRevolution narrative. In it, Greg asked me a seemingly straightforward question: “Are you the leader of the revolution?” I hesitated at first then provided this answer:

“It’s not like that. As far as I know, I was the person who started the hashtag. But I don’t consider myself to be the leader. I may be A leader. But this isn’t an organization in the traditional sense – its guerrilla warfare. None of us has the authority or expertise to address every issue in every place in the country – because healthcare is intensely local. But people, in their communities are inspired and encouraged to get engaged. I hope that FMRevolution will provide things like affinity, a sense of esprit de corps, and broad strokes direction…but each member defines what it means for her and her community.”

Unbeknownst to me, I had encapsulated many of the tenets outlined in the book: Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements. Greg was kind enough to send me a copy of the book for my troubles and to my delight, it was signed by one of the authors, Spike Jones, who left me an inspiring message:

The chapter titles capture the essence of how and why sticky movements such as #FMRevolution have stickiness:

  • Movements aren’t about the product conversation; they’re about the passion conversation
  • Movements start with the first conversation
  • Movements have inspirational leadership
  • Movements have a barrier to entry
  • Movements empower people with knowledge
  • Movements have shared ownership
  • Movements have powerful identities
  • Movements live both online and offline
  • Movements make advocates feel like rock stars
  • Movements get results

Apply the above to #FMRevolution for a moment. For you MBTI Sensing types, do you envision a series of checked boxes? How about for you MBTI Intuitive types? Did things magically connect and suddenly make sense as they did for Neo in The Matrix?

We all have an obligation to tell the Family Medicine story: to one another, to our health care colleagues, to our patients, to our communities and to the American public. What is clear is that we are making a difference that is real and that has reach (in the past month, I have received communiqués about #FMRevolution from the UK, Romania, and España!). I look forward to building this movement together with you, my fellow #FMRevolution-aries, for a health care system that is value-based and patient-centered.

As systems of care are being amalgamated into larger business entities, we must keep the triple aim in focus and leverage our passion for it into meaningful transformation. Leadership, after all, is about vision, process and relationships. As family docs, we have these skills in our quiver of change agent tools. We must wake up and use them now before this historic window of opportunity is wasted because we feared to act: Fear + Opportunity = Fearpportunity. We can do this, people.

As Bruce Lee once stated: “A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”

Be bold. Aim high. Remember your patients. Never give up.


Author: Jay Lee, MD, MPH

Jay W. Lee, MD, MPH, FAAFP, is Associate Medical Director of Practice Transformation at MemorialCare Medical Group and Assistant Program Director/Director of Health Policy at the Long Beach Memorial Family Medicine Residency Program. He is also Speaker on the California Academy of Family Physicians' Board of Directors.

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  1. Great post and insight, Jay! I’m so glad you enjoyed the book and it sounds like you could add a couple of chapters form your own experience. Keep on fighting the good fight!

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  2. I am in. My dear #FMRevolution -ary. I believe in the hashtag, the concept, the fight, the style. My brain is on fire, and from my place in the East coast I will continue to spread it. Engagement. Advocacy. Energy. Leadership. Passion… Ignite. Go on. FMRevolutionize!

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