Wednesday, January 3, 2007

A Glimpse Into My World at Work

Each week, I send an email to the staff of the Cancer Center where I serve as Administrator. In general, it is an update on our efforts to create a culture of service to our patients and to one another. Motivating staff to perform at the highest standards of excellence is what I consider to be one of my highest priorities as a leader. Here is a glimpse into my world at work seen through my most recent letter to staff sent out this morning.

I sure hope everyone had a great New Year. I expect 2007 to be our best year ever as we close out 2006 on so many positive notes. I don’t know what our 4th quarter patient satisfaction scores are at this time, but what I do know is that they will be the highest we have ever had. I can’t wait to see the fruits of your labor and pass the good news along. Trust me, I’ll send it your way as soon as I receive it.

As we begin the New Year, many of us will consider New Years Resolutions. Most of them will be broken during the first month (i.e. “I resolve not to eat so much of the delicious food that is so often brought to the Cancer Center.”). Resolutions, as a rule, are not often carried through.

Why not?

Any resolution will fail at the point of meeting its first obstacle, if the resolution was conditioned upon someone else. For example, “I would have not eaten that chocolate if she hadn’t made it especially for me. That would not be nice.” OR “I would not have become so angry if they wouldn’t have been so rude to me.” OR “I would exercise more if I didn’t have so many last minute projects to take care of.”

But I believe there is a difference between a resolution and a promise. Whereas resolutions are often contingent upon something external, a promise is an internal commitment unaltered by external conditions. This is demonstrated well by one of my favorite authors, CS Lewis. He was determined to pay what he had vowed. His biography tells of the suffering he endured because he kept a promise he had made to a buddy during World War I. This friend was worried about the care of his wife and small daughter if he should be killed in battle, so Lewis assured him that if that were to happen he would look after them. As the war dragged on, the man was killed. True to his word, Lewis took care of his friend’s family. Yet no matter how helpful he tried to be, the woman was ungrateful, rude, arrogant, and domineering. Through it all, Lewis kept forgiving her. He refused to let her actions become an excuse to renege on his promise.

That’s the difference! A promise is unaffected by another persons actions.

As we begin the New Year, consider the promises we should make to both our patients and our co-workers. Decide today how you will treat each other with dignity and respect. Consider how you will demonstrate compassionate care to our patients and sincere concern for their families. And then make a promise. Because we all know someone is going to have a bad day, patients will become anxious and families will be demanding. Yet, if you made a promise, your response will remain unaffected by another persons actions.

This year, avoid the New Years Resolution and make a Promise.


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