Leading With Passion

November 6, 2007

One of the most requested slides that we use in our presentations is one with two intertwined circles. One circle represents passion, and the other represents prescriptives.

I find these two elements are a powerful combination to attain and sustain results. If we try to achieve results with passion alone, we start to lose our passion when results are not attained or are attained for only a brief time. Gradually our energy starts to fade.

When we only use prescriptives without passion we get some quick results, but those stop when barriers come up. Why? Because it is passion that gets us through the barriers. Of course some days we will lead more with passion. Some days we will lead with prescriptives. But most of time we will have a combination of both.

This blog is in the passion circle.

Liz Jazwiec, who I have worked with since 1993 and is one of our Studer Group speakers, forwarded me a note that she recently received after a presentation at one of Studer Group’s partner organizations, Community Healthcare System (Munster, IN). The note reminded me of one sent out several months ago from a new nurse grad at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, FL. That letter describing the hopes and beliefs of a new nurse was warmly received. This note is about those moments when our internal flame is low, but then at just the right time we hear the right message.

My thanks to Jana for allowing her letter to be shared. Jana is a difference maker.

Dear Liz,

I recently heard you speak at our LDI for Community Healthcare System. Not only did I enjoy your presentation, I took home your message and could relate as a “seasoned” ICU nurse with “attitude.”You spoke about the importance of feeling like you make a difference. I need to share a story. People often asked me how I survived over 25 years in Intensive Care and did not become “burned out.” My standard answer is that burn out is something that is entirely avoidable. I wake up every morning knowing in my heart that I would make a difference somehow, some way and going to bed reviewing how I made a difference that day. I would tell my staff that it may not always be the burning bush in your face difference, but that they made a difference.

One day, forgetting my own advice, I did not feel like I was making a difference as a leader or a nurse. I was full of self doubt and self pity…a lethal combination. Just then, one of my fellow nurses stood at my door and asked to speak to me. She had been with me for over 10 years and started as a unit secretary. I had worked with her schedule so that she could attend school. As she stood there, all I could think of was that I was a failure at this leader thing and did not want to deal with any staff issue. Tina reminded me that she would be graduating in a few weeks, and the school had told the graduates that they could have one of their family members “pin” them during the ceremony. Since her mother had died recently, she was asking me to do the honors because she felt that she would never had completed her education if I had not worked with her schedule and given her constant encouragement. AHA! The wakeup call…this was something that I saw as part of my job and never realized what an impact it had on this individual.

Recently, I had forgotten to wake up to my mantra of making a difference since becoming the director of the IRB/Bio-Ethics department. Thank you for reminding me (and the rest of the audience) that it is our legacy as the healthcare team to make a difference and that we are all in this together.

Warm regards,

Jana Lacera

Community Healthcare System (Munster, IN)

Please add your comments to this blog by visiting Quint’s Interactive Blog and share your thoughts with our readers. We can all benefit from each other’s experiences.


16 Responses to “Leading With Passion”

  1. Robert Barquist Says:

    Thank you. This comes at a perfect time for me. I have a Joint Commission inspection at the end of this month, we’ve been down two people for a couple of weeks (drastic when your entire workstaff in the lab is seven), and I strained my back the day before yesterday, so it hurts a might bit. I was starting to feel just a bit gloomy…well,Jana’s story reflects the importance of remembering that we do count and that we are indeed important to someone.We might not know who it is at the time that we are making a difference for, but if we are here with the thought in mind that we DO make a difference every day…well, that’s a great thing to comfort the soul. Thank you Liz, and thank you Jana.

  2. Mary Ann Wolcott Says:

    As I read through the book, What’s Right in Healthcare, I thought of the difference each of these individuals made in the lives or patients, families, friends,and coworkers. How wonderful, when your career is over, to ba able to look back and know you have touch the life of another when they needed you most.

    Every nursing school in this country should make this book required reading. The students well motivated to go forward with a firm conviction that they have each made the right career choice.

  3. In encorporating some of the philosphies into my day to day mindset, it was affirming to me that some days ALL you have is the passion…and some days, that is enough.

  4. Debi Carlson Says:

    I really enjoyed reading this blog on “Leading with Passion”. It is right insync with a book on customer strategies I am reading called, “Passionate and Profitable”. Both of these things reminded me of a conversation I had with my daughter the first time she came home from college, and how it lead to my rekindling of my passion for nursing. My daughter was upset because she was losing contact with people she felt were friends. It was my opportunity to talk to her about people coming in and out of her life. I shared some people you wont even remember, others will say someone’s name and you will say, oh yeah I remember them. Then there will people who touch your life and it will be forever changed because of it. I shared that was the type of person she should strive to be. That conversation lead me to think about the people in my life who touched me that way. Two of them were former patients. One a young man of 23 who was in an auto accident which left him a paraplegic. I was 23 also working in the Neuro/trauma ICU where he was brought. I was always amazed by his attitude, always positive, to the point I thought sometimes he was in denial. He was usually my patient when I worked and I became close with both he and his family. I would stay after my shift and spend time with him or come in early if there was something he said he needed. The day came when he was being transfered out of state to Duke in NC for rehab. I surprised him and rode in the ambulance with him. Those thoughts cause me to think about trying to find him and see how he was doing. The internet is a wonderful thing and I was able to locate a phone number, which happened to be his folk’s home. I talked to his mom and she told me how he was doing, back down in the outer banks of NC living near the ocean (his passion). She gave me his number and I asked her not to tell him I called as I wanted to surprise him. As soon as we hung up I called him. The phone rang, he answered and I said,”Len, this is a voice from your past.” There was a slight pause and the voice on the end said, “And it is a voice I will never forget Debi” He told me while lying there on his back, he would listen for my footsteps or my laughter. He said when I heard them I knew I was going to have a good day. I shared with him how his passion for life even after his tradegy, touched me (it was obvious his passion had not changed). Right then I had a flashback to that time 27 yrs earlier, reminding me of why I went into nursing and the passion I have for my profession.

  5. Gay Landstrom Says:

    Thank you for sharing Jana’s letter. In the exhaustion of this important work we do, it is so easy to forget to stop and reflect on the lives we impact. Just one life touched in this way, makes the work worthwhile.

  6. Julie Jones Says:

    Thanks for sharing Jana’s story. We have all been there at some time or the other. Hearing stories like this makes you stop and remember why you became a nurse in the first place. I am a new nurse manager and whenever I really get stressed out, I just stop whatever I am doing and go visit patients. They always remind me why I started my nursing career. It is because I care about people and making a difference, just the reason that most of us have entered this career.

  7. Notes to Quint Says:

    What a great story – thanks for sharing – we have many leaders who would fit this description – we resolve one issue and go on to the next without taking the time to celebrate the success of the previous accomplishment.

    I believe our role as senior managers is to help our middle managers slow down from time-to-time to review what has been accomplished so that they can acquire some additional energy/self confidence to take on the next challenge.

  8. Notes to Quint Says:

    Thank you very much for the great job you did at our LDI Conference!

    I felt inspired after spending the day under your tutelage. I was touched by the personal story that you shared about your son’s accident. I was moved and humbled by your account – to be reminded that I am in a position to make a difference for people during a time when they may be in crisis. Whew! Powerful!

    I have begun to modify my nightly routine and my practice to incorporate a number of the tools and techniques that you promote.

    I will be visiting your website in the near future. I haven’t been fortunate enough to get my hands on your first book yet, and I’m looking forward to it!

  9. Notes to Quint Says:

    Just the right message at just the right time- Thanks for sharing…

  10. Notes to Quint Says:

    Thanks for this note – I appreciate your words of wisdom!

  11. Notes to Quint Says:

    It is with great interest, that I read the letter you have shared. Thank you.

    It is my greatest concern that as a “seasoned” RN for over 25 years, I often see nurses burn out. I try to instill in the staff the need to share their knowledge not only as a professional duty, but one of top priority. I tell the staff, that only by supporting each other thru education and “passing it on” do we all truly live on as nurses
    (and provide great care to our patients).

    However, many times it is difficult for myself and staff to improve, as we consistently meet
    road blocks to improvement. As your group has suggested the real power to change is at the hands of bedside staff. Bedside staff must
    understand the reasons behind decisions that are made “at the top”.

    The answers for change or improvement, must be communicated in a way that is honest, clear and surrounded by time frames or targets goals. The change should also be arranged NOT in the summer, school vacations or holidays,as this respects the staff and their family needs.

    Change should not be cloaked around secret meetings, or given only to the chosen few, it
    should be shared so we can get the majority of staff to adjust and adapt to new things.

    – Nurse Manager

  12. Notes to Quint Says:

    I can’t tell you what GREAT timing this blog was. I was having one of those “my plate is way too full” to make a difference kind of weeks. Just wanted to say a simple thank you.

  13. Notes to Quint Says:

    Thanks much, “This” made a difference for me today. I am grateful for the reminder.

  14. Notes to Quint Says:

    I had the pleasure of hearing you speak several years ago at the conference in Scottsdale, AZ. I continuing to enjoying reading you comments.

    Today when I read about the statement concerning passion, it struck a cord in my heart. I have always said that I am a nurse that doesn’t have a job but a lifestyle, because I get to practice my passion of nursing everyday.

    I have been a nurse for 32 years. I am currently the employee health nurse. When I received my total knee replacement my wings were snipped and I was told that I needed to use my head and not my legs. So I moved into this role reluctantly. After two incredible rewarding years I have realized that I am still that same passionate nurse but my clients are not patients in gowns but the 1,152 employees of my hospital

    A year ago I was honored to be the keynote speaker for the graduating RN class at our local community college. I told these new nurses that there was a word that was so important to our profession and that was compassion. But inside of that word was a smaller word that described how I felt about my career in nursing. And that word is passion. Without passion it is just a job. I considered myself lucky because I get to experience my passion everyday of my life because when you become a nurse you are a nurse 24 hrs a day everyday. Being a nurse is not what I do but who I am.

    So thank you for your message. I will continue to keep you in my heart for all of the lives that you have not only touch, Quint, but for the lives that you have woke up. So many people have just needed that one word to get them started putting the whole thing together. For me it was years ago when I found that little word inside of another, passion…………………..

  15. Notes to Quint Says:

    Thank you for sharing this…I’m sure this email became an “AHA Moment” for many!

  16. Notes to Quint Says:

    I enjoyed the “Leading with Passion” article so much. A few months ago, I turned down a position which I would have really enjoyed. It was more money, more visibility, more room for advancement, etc., but I realized that I was and could continue to make a difference at my present job. In the job I do, who I am and how I treat employees does make a difference. I DO make a difference. Every once in a while I forget that. Thanks for the reminder.

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