Training log: Eleven thousand miles and untold pairs of sneakers. For 15 years, I logged miles running the forest trails and streets of Durham, North Carolina.

5 a.m.: Miami. I approached the hotel front desk. “Good morning. I want to go running and was hoping you could tell me which way to go.”

“I can tell you which way not to go—don’t go that way,” he said, pointing behind him. “Thanks!” It is important to know where not to go.

Mile 1: Doubt
Leaving the hotel, I recognized a street with shops; last night it had been full of lights and life but now it was quiet. I started to run.

I imagined myself back in Durham and thought of the familiarity that I was about to leave. I had spent 15 years building my career as an academic general internist. What was I doing, moving to Miami? I ran past darkened shops wondering whether this was a good idea after all.

Mile 2: Reflection
I was now in a quiet neighborhood, palm trees lining the streets.

Over the next few days, I would meet many faculty and trainees. In my new leadership roles, my success will be measured by the success of these people. How can I foster a culture of nurturing, respect, and responsibility? How can I gain their trust?

Ahead of me, I was suddenly aware of a shadowy figure blocking the center of the sidewalk. As I drew near, I saw that the figure was a man in a wheelchair. I slowed down to check on him: quiet, easy respirations, no signs of distress. He was simply sleeping in the middle of the sidewalk. The comfort and safety of the houses around us seemed to glare at this homeless man, exposing his vulnerability.

Mile 3: Commitment
I increased my pace and the distance between us grew. What was his circumstance? I thought of my responsibility to advocate for the most vulnerable of our patients. As a clinician, I touch the lives of individual people, like this man. As a leader, I can amplify that effect—to make a larger impact on the health of entire populations.

I was suddenly upon a traffic circle.

Mile 4: Dawn
The canal appeared out of nowhere—early morning light casting a glow on the water to my left. Towering trees emerged from the lush landscape along the edge of the water. Making my way around the traffic circle, I felt inspired by the scenery and recounted my aspirations in this transition: to lead with passion and integrity; to work hard; to have fun; to listen; to value the unique contribution of every person; and to sincerely believe that together we can make a difference.

The houses were now mansions with gated driveways. This was not the same street on which I started my journey. Now lost and late, I sprinted back toward the traffic circle to retrace my path.

Mile 5: Day
The homeless man was gone. I saw shops again; people stirred as light grew brighter and day began. Looking forward, I felt eager to meet my new colleagues and find ways to facilitate our collective success.

Training log: Five miles down and a mere 10,995 left to run. Like all other challenges, the only way to attack this was one mile at a time.

The hotel front desk was busy now. The clerk nodded as I passed. “Did you find your way?”

“Yes. In fact, I did.”

Sheri Keitz, M.D., Ph.D., is associate dean for faculty diversity and development at the Miller School of Medicine, chief of medicine at the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and an adviser on diversity to University President Donna E. Shalala.