In my Project Managing a Health Crisis article I mentioned variables, including errors. This is not to suggest that I did not get excellent care in an excellent facility. I did. But I quickly learned to not expect perfection because errors are a fact of life in healthcare like they are in any domain. There were many in my case, perhaps because of the complexity of my illness, the severity of my acute condition and the number of specialists involved. In terms of degree, those errors ranged from annoying, to worrisome, to serious.
A series of the more serious errors resulted in a life-threatening, code blue scenario less than a week after I’d gotten out of ICU. It followed a procedure that one of my doctors ordered, resulting in massive internal hemorrhage requiring an emergency coil embolism and blood transfusions. Its hard to say how close it was, but it was minutes to spare. When the sirens went off and they were racing me to the CT-scan my doctors were telling me how sorry they were and that my son had been notified. Two of my sisters were crying and telling me goodbye and how much they loved me. I, on the other hand, had no doubt I was fine. A few hours after the crisis, to everyone’s amazement, I’d bounced back.
Months after my discharge, friends who had knowledge of, and experience with, healthcare errors suggested I contact an attorney and look into programs that offered apologies to patients along with quick settlements. It sounded reasonable when they talked about it but I could never bring myself to even talk to a lawyer. My friends could not understand why I would resist even having a consultation since the law would be on my side. I couldn’t understand it either but my intuition was so strong I could not ignore it and it was bigger than not wanting to hurt anyone who had treated me. Eventually it came to me. I already had the law on my side, the law of the field. Some people may prefer the term universal law, others may prefer the law of God. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is a willingness to accept that reality, or underlying truth, is shaped by how the observer perceives it, i.e. the observer’s beliefs, assumptions and expectations. If you don’t have that willingness, its easy to research decades of quantum mechanics research and experience that consistently prove it and you don’t need to know anything about physics to check it out.
I wrote in a previous post about my belief: I’m Fine. To even think seriously about talking to a lawyer meant acting against that belief, throwing myself into a state of contradiction, and setting myself up for suffering and stress. This is in no way meant to discourage anyone from taking legal action which in many cases is the appropriate path. But for me, this time, the ability to stay in a state of non-resistance, grace and gratitude was infinitely worth more than a monetary settlement. As for money, I won’t be surprised if it shows up anyway, as much as, or even better than, what I would’ve received through “other” law. As Florence Scovel Shinn taught:
“The game of life is a game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds and words return to us sooner or later with astounding accuracy.”
Project Managing My Health Crisis
On 9/10/11 I was stricken with a rare (1 in 50,000), and potentially deadly auto-immune disease that almost killed me. I’m almost completely recovered against all odds. I’d never been sick in my life so I knew nothing and, like in a business/tech environment, I had to learn a lot on the fly. I’ll eventually breakout more detail when I figure out the best way to present my story in a way that will best help others. Until then, what it boils down to for me is that a health crisis presents the ultimate project management challenge. There’s a big problem to solve, goals to achieve, milestones, inputs, outputs, variables, testing and outcomes.
My goal: to maximize all medical resources plus my physical conditioning and mindfulness training to be at an optimal state of health, as good as or better than, before the health crisis.
- personal beliefs and attitude
- diverse, aggressive treatments and procedures
- multiple professional care givers
- support from advocates, family and friends
- how I feel: physical, mental, emotional and meta-physical states; symptoms and side effects; changes in physical appearance and capabilities
- data: myriad quantitative and qualitative treatment plans and recommendations; test and procedures reports and results; conversations and instructions; care giver and advocates notes
- inputs and outputs continually changing
- disparate communication and data management systems, methods and styles
- errors and weak error tracking
Sounds like a high-stakes project, right? It is, because life and/or quality of life are at stake and, like in business, there are many stakeholders. Early on, when I was first released from the hospital I made the typical project management mistakes. I tried to control every detail, did not delegate, freaked out over errors and mistakes and was inflexible about timelines. I strived for, and expected perfection from, myself and everyone else. Fortunately, I quickly realized that I had to let go.
Letting go did not mean that I gave up, or did not work hard. Rather, it was a shift in my vantage point from “the one who must protect and care for herself”, to “the one who is always protected and cared for, and so very grateful for it”. Fortunately, making that shift was not an impossible leap of faith. I’d spent two decades investing in personal growth and development with exceptional teachers. I had the tools and mental training in addition to the physical conditioning of a master rower and the organizational and analytical abilities of a business woman.
I do believe, however, that health in consciousness is a vantage point available to anyone who is willing to meet a health crisis by standing in trust and renouncing doubt. The more I stayed in that shifted place, it became less about the problem to solve, that being the health crisis, and more about relatedness, shared humanity, vulnerability and new directions.
The world is in such a state of change that it can seem like everything is a problem. Its our nature to resist them and want them to go away with the force of our will. My health crisis came on so suddenly and severely that I had no time to feel that way but when I came out of ICU I was obsessed for days with escaping, and resisting and “getting it over with”. The problems kept mounting. Then I let go, aligned with the experience and let my love for everyone replace my resistance. From that moment on, the healing and the unexpected positive results surprised everyone but me. As Norman Vincent Peale said: “Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution. If you don’t have any problems, you don’t get any seeds.”
Well I’ve been planting a lot of seeds from my health crisis. I’m open to whatever might grow. And most importantly, I’m having a lot of fun watering the garden.
I recently participated in a study in at Harvard. It was about emotion, cognition and aging. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the experiment and the methodology but found the follow-up interview valuable in that it validated my own work. The interviewer was not only surprised about my grasp of concepts like emotional and cognitive embodiment, but that I’d integrated them in my methodologies and blog and had conceived them through my personal and professional experience and development as well as my auto-didactic learning and training.
One of the criticisms creative professional service providers get is about the supposed difficulties of being in the same space as those who have the hard research to back up their theories.
So here’s the thing.
- If your ideas, solutions and content are unique, forward-thinking and deep, then there’s a high probability that there’s a lot of current research available in the public domain to validate them. So use it.
- If the research in any way contradicts your fabulous ideas, solutions and content, well there’s a great point of differentiation and positioning for you.
- If the research is non-existent or in a nascent stage, and you think its important to moving your work forward, then you can apply for a grant.
I read Creating You & Company in 1999 when I was planning to leave my last real job and start my professional service firm as a solopreneur.
It was a great influence because it validated my sense that “having a job” was a worn out concept, signally that huge, disruptive shifts would take place in the world of work. It also supported my business model idea which was to offer services as products, which I call programs.
Recently, its occurred to me that professional service “products” need merchandising just like any other product. I know quite a bit about merchandising because I work part-time doing garden center merchandising as the liaison between the grower and the big-box stores.
Three fundamental merchandising concepts in garden center merchandising can be effectively applied to professional services:
Display – One of the first things I do when I take on a new store is to scan what product is out front in the main aisles and benches, and to look at what product is in the lot and in the back of the carts. Typically, there’s old stale product where people are shopping and fresh new product languishing where nobody can see it. Are you displaying your best solutions, ideas and content where your clients are are looking and shopping?
Consolidation – In the garden centers, I’m continually maximizing shelf space while at the same time grouping products for maximum appeal. The more I do it, the greater the capacity I develop for quickly scoping out very large areas, visualizing the end result, and figuring out the most efficient way to get that result. What are your opportunities to continually consolidate and group together your solutions, ideas and content so they “pop” when your clients are looking and shopping?
Culling – I’m surprised how difficult it is for people to get rid of product that’s no good. I think its mainly because they can’t make culling decisions by putting themselves in the customers’ shoes and asking themselves: “will I buy this?” Its a no excuses point of view. Prolific author Stephen King is a great culler and strongly advises that aspiring writers pay strict attention to culling:
..kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings. – Stephen King
Are you hanging on to boring or outdated solutions, ideas and content that are spoiling the overall appeal, and are holding back the growth and momentum of your professional service practice?
If these fundamental merchandising concepts make sense, and the questions hold some truth for you, this may be a good time to put aside the latest and greatest tools and technologies and merchandise your professional services. Inspiration is always available at your local garden center. If you need a good system, I love WordPress.
An underlying technology of the machine tool industry I was involved with was tribology, concerned with friction, lubrication and wear. Round and cylindrical parts last longer when the hardness and smoothness is improved and continually lubricated. The need for tribology grew when tolerance for friction decreased as engines became smaller (example: compact cars) and applications became more critical (example: artificial hip joints).
Without tribology applications, anything from grit to human antibodies will abrade, erode and eventually destroy surface finish.
Its a good metaphor for how to respond to the changes and uncertainty resulting from an increasingly smaller and connected globe, lack of tolerance for bad systems and replacement of worn-out structures.
Worry, doubt, ego, hubris and what Julia Cameron beautifully describes as giving in to “the temptation of despair” will just as quickly erode individual and collective human potential as a speck of dirt will destroy a bearing. Self-aware people and organizations are vigilant about thinking, assumptions and expectations. The result is a mirror-finish belief system or culture that deflects what’s not wanted and functions smoothly, regardless of circumstances.
Relationships, networks and social capital provide the lubricant.
At least once a week when I refer to a web site or a blog or an influential person or business, the person I’m talking to responds – “great, what’s their name, company and url?”
And once again, I explain that I could never remember that level of detail, but it doesn’t matter because I know how to instantaneously find what I want and need in my personal and solo psf knowledge sharing system.
The response I get to my explanation always surprises me – no response. Nobody ever asks what my system is or how it works or why I consider it a critical asset. I’m surprised because its so apparent to me that its the core of my business and should be for every professional services practitioner.
And its free!
I have a former background in machine-tool, as a controller and later, a partner. A key market was medical device which has continued to grow, 6% annually in the U.S., which manufactures a large percentage of global product.
Despite industry consolidation, approximately 80% of the more than 8,000 U.S. medical device firms employ less than 50 people. What they lack in resources, they can make up in agility and responsiveness to highly specific customer needs and requirements which include R&D partnerships and new market applications for existing products and processes.
Success for the small medical device manufacturer requires continual research, a focus on promotion, internal knowledge sharing and collaborative partnerships. For these reasons, as well as their insistence on getting the biggest (measurable) bang for their media investments, medical device companies can greatly benefit from social media.