I will follow that method of treatment which according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patient and abstain from whatever is harmful or mischievous. (excerpt from a modern version of the Hippocratic Oath)
First Do No Harm
Depending on your experiences, it is quite probable that you have heard the phrase “first do no harm” at least once in your life. That phrase is a shorthand way of describing a maxim that most doctors strongly believe in. Their belief is that it is their job to help their patients, not to harm them. As a consequence, one of the first things they make sure they do is not do anything that will harm the patient.
In other words, in order to accomplish their mission (helping the patient), the first thing they do is make sure they don’t take any actions that are inconsistent with their mission.
Unfortunately It Doesn’t Always Work Out That Way
Unfortunately, it has been my experience, there are many times in our lives when we take actions that are inconsistent with our mission.
It could be something as simple as wanting to accomplish a task for your job, but instead you decide to take the day off and not get your work done.
It could be something as simple as wanting to lose weight, but then going out to dinner and eating a bunch of rich, fattening food.
It could be many things.
Conscious Actions Versus Unconscious Ones
In the 2 previous examples provided, the inconsistent actions would probably have to be classified as “conscious” decisions to be inconsistent. You know you need to get your work done, but you don’t do it anyway. You know you shouldn’t eat the fattening foods at the restaurant, but you do it anyway.
But, what about unconscious decisions? I experienced a perfect example of that yesterday.
I arrived at a doctor’s office at 1:00 PM, on a typical hot, June day here in Arizona. The temperature outside was 90 degrees. The door to the office was locked, at the employees were inside eating their lunch. Waiting outside with me was an elderly man and his wife. They both appeared to be in their 70s, if not 80s. The man was using a cane and he was obviously having trouble standing.
The other people had previously knocked on the door and no one would let them in. The door finally opened up at 1:05 PM (5 minutes late) and we were all allowed to enter the air conditioned office and take a seat. Over the past month, this was actually the second time I’d observed such a situation.
Upon entering, I suggested to the staff that they should be conscious of people (especially elderly ones) who are standing outside waiting for them to open up the office (especially on hot days). The staff gave me a look as if they thought I was crazy. They had, in my opinion, absolutely no clue as to the problems of elderly patients standing outside on hot days.
The staff told me it was their lunch hour and they were entitled to lock the doors and take their lunch in private. In fact, their office manager had apparently told them that was what they were supposed to do.
I Ask You A Few Questions
What is the mission of the doctor? My guess is that they would say it is to treat their patients and helping them to get healthier. In keeping with the Hippocratic, they would also say they want to avoid doing anything that would harm the patients.
What is the mission of the staff? – My guess is that they would say it is to assist the doctor in treating their patients and helping them to get healthier.
Were their actions consistent with their mission? – Yes and no. While it is my opinion that the doctors office apparently does a good job of treating their patient’s illnesses (mine included), I would argue that they were totally unconscious of a way they were potentially harming their patients (making elderly people wait outside in 90+ degree temperature with nowhere to sit down.
By vocalizing my opinion about the situation to both the staff and to the doctor directly, I obviously made them conscious of the situation. So now, no one can argue that they didn’t know.
What Do You Do When You Become Conscious?
You can do one of two things.
A) Now that your conscious of the problem, you can attempt to take corrective measures.
B) Now that your conscious of the problem, you can bury your head in the sand and act as if the problem doesn’t exist.
Empowering Your Staff
I honestly believe, in my opinion, one of the problems in the above example is that the employees are not empowered to take corrective action on their own. They are instructed to follow a set of procedures and they are not taught, or encouraged, to adjust their actions based upon the current circumstances.
I have ALWAYS made it a habit of encouraging my staff to “think on their feet”. In the situation discussed above, the obvious answer would be for the staff to open their doors a few minutes earlier and allow the patients to wait in an air conditioned room where they could sit down. BUT, for some reason, no one had thought about that and when it was brought to their attention, the staff indicated they were apparently not empowered to deviate from the proscribed procedures.
Am I Trying To Complain Here?
No. I am not saying these things to complain. I’m saying these things because I believe they illustrate two points previously outlined in the Laws of Positioning.
I ask you, as you go through each and every day, ask yourself:
Were my actions today consistent with my mission?
Have you checked out my website that profiles the benefits of walking? iWarriorWalk.com