I have just returned from an amazing vacation. For the first time ever, I had an opportunity to travel to Europe. I cashed in some long saved points and planned and scheduled. I’m sure you can imagine…I treated the whole itinerary like a surgical schedule. I even created a document called “world tour itinerary” which captured all my addresses, dates, confirmation numbers and the like. I was all set. As I headed to the airport, I felt like I was physically hopping out of all the work I was leaving. I even took several phone calls on my ride to the airport. Once I got on the plane, however, I finally put on a movie and got comfortable for the long flight over the pond.
Way back in time, when I was in nursing school, my buddies and I would always joke at test time to relieve our jitters. There were two popular training commercials at that time that ran on television. One offered truck driver training, and another touted becoming a model…or just looking like one. We would combine the two and offer to each other a reminder that, if we failed, there is always truck driver training school…we could be a trucker, or just look like one!
It was our running joke. What we were really telling each other was that it will be okay no matter what. Even if we failed, at least we tried.
Fear of failure is a very powerful emotion. It keeps us from getting outside our comfort zone, trying new things, learning new skills, or stepping up to the next level. We think about what potentially comes with “failure”…loss of respect, self worth, and all kinds of negative emotions that are attached to that word.
I think back to the time prior to being accepted into nursing school. I was already working in a medical office and had two kids. It was a huge leap for me to make the jump. As I remember that fear, it now seems silly. Life would be so much different had I not gotten past it.
With time, I have learned that there really is no such thing as true failure in the context of the scary emotions that the word conjures. I’m not suggesting an irresponsible leap, and safety net planning is an important part of the plan, but trying may lead to great success and no regret, and not trying is a missed opportunity. No one is going to judge you if it doesn’t work out. It just wasn’t your path. So, today, I recommend you just do it. Try doing that one thing. Apply for that certification, learn that new skill, explore your next career step, or whatever seed that is growing that the fear of “failure” is getting in the way.
I took a big leap a couple of months back, and, just for fun, applied for a role on a television pilot as a background actor. Living in Atlanta, there are often opportunities for “extras”, and this particular one day opportunity was for a nurse. I thought it would be great fun, so I sent an e mail with all the required information, and I got the role! It was an amazing experience. I’m not sure what episode I’m in, or if I even made the cut, but I now call it “my show”, and can’t wait for it to start. So, if you have a chance, tune in to NBC April 12th for the pilot airing of “Game of Silence” following “The Voice”, and look for me in my blue scrubs, being a nurse…and just looking like one. While you’re watching, please don’t laugh at me too loudly, and start planning your leap.
Being a good leader isn’t easy, and some days are tougher than others. It is a challenge in itself to make important judgement calls and quick correct decisions.
For me, I find the one of the most challenging aspects of leadership is influencing the facility culture in a positive way. Some days are easy. The schedule is manageable, the facility is well staffed, the weather is good, and whatever else leads to those days when you feel like you are coaching the winning team, and your focus can be on the task list.
Then there are those other days. Staff has called off last minute so you are short, the schedule is challenge, and even the most positive staff members are grumbling a bit. It’s easy to allow the culture to impact the tone of the day, and takes effort to make the day run well.
If you are like me, there are those days when you know it could have gone better, and there are the others where you end the day feeling like you have hit it out of the park.
Here are some thoughts from the winning days and what has worked.
- Proactivity. Start the day with a quick gathering and a review of the game plan, acknowledging the challenges. Puts everyone on the same page, and sets the tone. It also shows the team that you get the day may be rough, but you are all in it together, and promotes a “winning” approach from the start.
- Communication. Although key every day, effective communication will make a challenging day go much better. Get information as it occurs to everyone who needs to know as soon as possible, and make sure they know to do the same.
- Humor. Even the most challenging days go better with a little appropriate humor. It also helps diffuse any brewing negativity.
- Be the traffic cop. Anticipate ways the day can go more efficiently, and really help manage the schedule. Even if you have a superstar doing it all the time, providing collaborative assistance on a challenging day can be key. Being proactive as to what case goes where, when and by whom can really add up. The same goes for break and lunch planning. Saving 5-10 minutes over the day could mean everyone goes home earlier than anticipated.
- Be turnover help. On crazy busy days, I ignore the task list unless absolutely critical and assist with turnover as much as possible. Not only does the day go faster and smoother, the staff get that you are in it with them and that you care.
- Remember to show your gratitude. On challenging days, it is easy to be so busy you forget to say “thank you”. Acknowledging great effort as it happens and as the day is done speaks volumes.
- Smile. Or thumbs up when your mask is on. Or fist bump when you hit that home run. It will get the message through loud and clear.
When the day is done, the count is correct, the patients are all discharged, and the staff has gone home, take a moment to reflect on the winning day, and congratulate yourself. We don’t hit it out of the park every day, and when we do, it’s important to reflect on the outcome.