A Big R: Responsibility

I once followed a keynote motivational speaker at a conference, who opened his presentation by dramatically stepping away from the podium, and in full view of the audience, brought his elbows up, his fists in to his shoulders and then stretched his arms slowly straight out to each side. Then, with a large grin widening on his face said, “It’s going to be good day.” He went on to explain that he performs this exercise every morning. Saying: “If I don’t hit wood (the inside of his coffin), the rest is up to me. My attitude and how I react to all that is presented to me today, is entirely up to me.”

That, to me, is responsibility. Taking accountability for his attitude and his response to all that is presented to him throughout each day sounds simple enough, but think about how often we just react without really thinking. Dennis Orthman, our guest author this month, speaks of the responsibility conditioning that we receive from our parents. My father was famous for scolding us kids with, “Think, just think, before you ____,” usually uttered after we failed to think something through and did something wrong (mostly my brothers, of course). This responsibility conditioning has manifest in me as a profound need to constantly reflect on, and think about, my choices and decisions.

Dennis, a consummate Supply Chain Professional, also writes about our responsibility and accountability to patients. I too have written often on this topic and would suggest a simple little exercise in responsibility for all of our supply chain peers to try. Pick a week or two and carve out some time at the end of each work day to reflect on the day’s activities. As you think over your decisions, directions, accomplishments and failures, attempt to link each to the affect that they have/had/could have had on patient care. How much time are you spending on activities with and without discernible linkage to patient care? An interesting follow up exercise is to view the non-patient linked activities as waste and challenge the necessity of the activity.

Having practiced this little exercise periodically over the last 15 years or so, I believe that I have sharpened my “response-ability.” A bit of a play on words I know, but I truly believe that reflecting on my day-to-day responsibility to the patient has helped me to focus on, and better respond to, what is most important.

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