In the movie “Promised Land” the character played by Frances McDormand justifies her actions by saying that, “it’s just a job.”
Is that how most of us feel about our roles in healthcare? I don’t think so. There’s no question that a lot of us work because we need money to sustain our families now and in the future.
But I have yet to meet a successful leader who has a spirit that communicates: it’s just a job. Instead, for most of us, working in healthcare is about a desire to serve. It is about a wish to better the lot of others, to provide some kind of assistance, some kind of cure or at least solace in the world of disease and recovery.
Most of us don’t hold our professional identities lightly. So, when we are repeatedly challenged by the requirements of the job—the need to do more with less or the need to do it faster even though it won’t be better—we can become disengaged. We don’t usually lose sight of the work or the way we think it should be done, but we may lose sight of who we are “being” on the job. We may lose touch with our “best selves” and our integrity, our values, and our ethics.
I don’t mean that we actively abandon them. What I mean is that we may inadvertently compromise the fullest version of who we can be because we need to stay focused, be efficient, and find the best solution to the demands we face every day. A devotion to those imperatives, without being fully grounded, leads to less effective leadership. It also leads to personal disenchantment, depletion and, eventually, exhaustion.
So how can we stay connected to who we are when we are at our best? How can we be that way more often?
We can be conscious of what reality is for us—not just the numbers and facts, but also the essence of who we are and the dreams that make us human. We can let all of those realities inform us and our decisions, in the right measure and at the right time. When we remain awake to and influenced by all of what’s important to us, we retain our spirit and we have more of ourselves to offer the people we serve.