As a world-record breaker and a six-time Olympic gold medalist, Usain Bolt knows a thing or two about momentum. The star athlete also has some interesting advice for running hopefuls that is alluringly applicable to the healthcare field. When asked for some top strategies for success, the “Lightening Bolt” offered some tips that we can use to improve the performance of our healthcare teams.
When we initiate massive change in our healthcare organizations, we enter our own Olympics. Long days of training, growing, trying new things, and relentlessly applying the principles that work. As healthcare leaders, we are like athletes, training for excellence and competing for better health for our patients and organizations every day. In a recent article, Bolt shared four powerful mandates that every athlete follow. Show Up. Don’t Ignore Pain. Just Relax. Be Confident. Let’s unpack those mandates as they would play out in our healthcare institutions.
Never underestimate the power of just showing up for your team, and your patients. We work toward victory every day, but must realize that the small choices and insignificant conversations deposit daily into the type of momentum being built for your team. Be present in more than your body. Bring your mental, emotional, and physical energy to every day – whether it is a “red-letter day” or not.
Don’t Ignore Pain
One of the biggest roadblocks to healthcare transformation can actually be unaddressed pain. Many organizations have accepted a level dysfunction in their teams, and low satisfaction from patients. Sometimes this is due to an inability to address the pain effectively, and others it is due to a complacency from having the organization operate “well enough.” Having successfully turned around organizations that have been burnt to the ground, I know what happens when pain points remain unaddressed for too long.
An intriguing caution Bolt combined with this mandate, is the importance of making sure you know the difference between soreness and pain. Massive culture shifts (which are necessary to heal healthcare) is not a comfortable process. There will be a “soreness” and even fatigue that can show up during the process of bringing your organization to excellence. Address pain points – for healthcare colleagues as well as for patients – and create a healthy culture of perseverance to help your team withstand the stress of growing.
In order to perform at his best, Usain Bolt says “I try to be myself, just be relaxed, and a fun person.” It is easy to forget, in the pursuit of excellence, that the staff and patients are also people. To be at your best, you must also be yourself! Connecting with your gifts, building positive relationships, and enjoying what you do are indispensable in the pursuit of healthcare excellence.
Like it or not, healthcare is a customer service industry. Patients see themselves as consumers, and view the healthcare experience in that way. We are “service providers” in every sense. It is not enough simply to execute the tasks associated with a patient’s care. Patients need to feel involved in the process, and cared for as a whole person rather than treated as a disease state.
If we are training and developing highly reliable, profitable, excellent healthcare organizations, we can proceed with confidence. Just as getting into shape generates a sense of physical readiness, getting your healthcare culture into shape creates organizational readiness. “If you train hard, if you work hard every day of the week, you just got to go out there and compete knowing you’re in great shape,” says Bolt. That is what we must do. We will always face challenges, and continual change in this industry. New regulations, unexpected competitors, shifts in population needs, and changing economic environments will always require our healthcare organizations to adapt and develop new strengths. But if we create thriving cultures in our organizations, we can have the confidence of an athlete who draws on the power of our preparation, and rise to meet every new challenge.
What if our healthcare organizations put those four keys into practice? What kind of momentum would we achieve in our organizations? If we want to achieve massive leaps forward – of the gold medal variety – we must be intentional about our momentum. Like Usain Bolt says, sometimes it’s about showing up every single day, catching problems while they’re small, slowing down before you speed up, appreciating those around you, and having strategies in place to make adjustments before the next race.
Photo Credit: UsainBolt.com