So many of us get caught up in the hustle and bustle going on in healthcare that we sometimes forget the basics. Occasionally, I'm called upon to share with various groups my perspective on what's going on in the industry.
When you've been around as long as I have, you begin to see wisdom in the old, oft-repeated cliches. You know: Life isn't fair. . . . Money won't buy happiness. . . . No pain, no gain. . . . Talk is cheap. . . . No man is an island.
I call my philosophy "Singing in the Rain" because it allows you to keep your balance no matter what's going on around you. In my talks, I offer seven common-sense pieces of advice that I think are critically important for anyone in a leadership position:
1. Don't be in a hurry when making decisions that affect other's lives. Re-engineering, cost-cutting and downsizing are great concepts, but sometimes they mean throwing out the baby with the bath water. It's easy to consolidate functions without really thinking about what's happening to patient care. It's easy for the people who run organizations to think of employees as "dead wood" or "disposable technology," but it's important to invoke the Golden Rule when dealing with others.
2. Put technology in perspective. Too many individuals get so carried away with the latest high-tech toys that they forget an important truism set forth by Harvard marketing guru Theodore Levitt: "Data is not information. And information is not meaning."
3. Celebrate success. Maybe it's as simple as creating a new form or as complex as installing a new information system. Whatever it is, take time to celebrate your victories.
4. Take risks. Life itself is a risk, and in today's healthcare climate those who don't take chances may find themselves out of business.
5. Make service a way of life. Management guru Tom Peters once wrote a tribute to a receptionist named Leslie. I wonder how many of us would take the time to write a column, letter or article about a receptionist. In hospitals, doctors' offices and healthcare systems, it's often the receptionist who makes or breaks a relationship with a patient, payer or opinion leader.
6. Develop your own definition of success. In Life's Little Instruction Book, H. Jackson Brown Jr. writes, "Judge your success to the degree you are enjoying peace, health and love." We all have different definitions of success. Some measure it by how much money they make, others by how many people report to them.
7. Learn to have fun. Robert Fulgham, author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, learns a great deal from watching children. He says: "Wisdom was not at the top of graduate school mountain, but there in the sandpile of Sunday School. These are the things I learned: Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things where you found them. Clean up your own messes. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. Warm cookies and milk are good for you. Live a balanced life. And when you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together."
There's simple truth in Fulgham's words. In healthcare, there are many expectations and problems, challenges and temptations, discouragements and opportunities. Remembering what you learned as a child isn't a bad idea. If you do, the rest should take care of itself.
Accentuate the positive, Charles S. Lauer Publisher