About Dr. Michael Maddaus

Michael Maddaus Mental Health Speaker

He Met Challenges With A Resilience That Would Eventually Save His Life

While trapped in the horrors of a poor and abusive alcoholic upbringing, Michael evolved into an outstanding juvenile delinquent which led to 24 arrests and 5 reform school sentences.

He dropped out of high school and joined the U.S. Navy to avoid going to prison. After the Navy he obtained his GED, and after one year attending a junior college he was admitted to the University of Minnesota and ultimately was accepted into their medical school.

Following 7 years of clinical surgical residency and 3 years of research, he joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota medical school. Over a 20-year career, Michael developed a robust clinical practice in complex and advanced minimally invasive surgery of the lungs and esophagus. He also became a full-time professor and vice chair of the Department of Surgery where he held the Garamella-Lynch endowed chair. Then, he stepped into his role as program director of the Department of Surgery’s general surgical training program.

Michael Maddaus family pictures

Michael felt he had “made it” in his career.

That is, until all the successes, all the time spent working on personal growth, and the initial excitement and rewards of his career, all faded. They were replaced with a slow but steady feeling of disillusionment and burnout. Then, major back and hip surgery, coupled with easy access to prescription narcotics, created the perfect storm for addiction.

This led to 18 months of a downward spiral into the hell of addiction that took over Michael’s life. His inability to free himself from the grip of addiction was stunning, given his ability to overcome so many other challenges in his life.

Michael Maddaus giving a lecture

A devastating personal fall that became a second chance.

Michael was eventually admitted to the Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center for three months. After being discharged, he retired from surgery to focus on his health and family. He was convinced that his “personal operating system” — borne of early troubled youth experiences, medical and surgical training, and a culture of overwork, extreme perfectionism and high performance — had somehow propelled him into the path of addiction.

Although the 12 step program he was taught provided the critical support and structure for a quick recovery, he was thirsty for new skills and habits that could help him develop a new personal operating system. One day, Michael’s daughter sent him a video of a study on gratitude in a group of Boston College students. This video sparked the flame of interest that led Michael to seek out and attend mindfulness and self-compassion retreats, teacher trainings in self-compassion, and to begin working with other surgeons who were struggling with the same personal issues of burnout and isolation so prevalent in medicine.

Michael Maddaus

The science of gratitude was, to paraphrase the artist Leonard Cohen, “the crack that let the light in” to Michael’s world.

Over time, Michael has incorporated 8 life changing habits into his new “personal operating system.” Through personal experience and observations, he became convinced of the profound value that these 8 habits have on his daily life. So much so that it led Michael to undertake an in depth scientific review of the 8 habits and eventually write a review of them. The Resilience Bank Account™: 8 Skills for Optimal Performance has been published in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery. You can download it here!

Ultimately, Michael formed a group with surgeons. They meet in an atmosphere of confidentiality so everyone can talk openly about personal and professional struggles, gain guidance, and connect deeply.

Host Of The Resilient Surgeon Podcast Series

Surgical Hot Topics Podcast by The Society of Thoracic Surgeons

A 13-part podcast series to inspire cardiothoracic surgeons to be their best selves, in and out of the OR, using scientifically proven tools and recovery strategies of the world’s top performers.

Michael Maddaus speaking to someone

Leader Of The Society Of Thoracic Surgeons Wellness Task Force

Wellness resources for physicians, surgeons, and medical professionals in need of:
  • Reducing symptoms of burnout
  • Building and maintaining resliency
  • Finding a better balance
  • Better self-care practices

Connect With
Dr. Michael Maddaus

Find your clarity. Feel the difference. Get sh*t done.

– Coaching/Mentoring
– Speaking Engagements
– Podcast Guest
– Academic Manuscript Editing
– Group Coaching
– Consulting

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