Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Wisdom from Xena: Warrior Princess
My family is a "nerd herd", a "gaggle of geeks", a "den of dorks". We do not watch television, but we do occasionally watch DVDs of cult series such as Babylon 5, The Prisoner, Doctor Who, The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne, and Xena: Warrior Princess.
Last night, we watched an episode in which Xena (Lucy Lawless) described her secret to winning competitions/battles/confrontations - "Act, do not react".
Today, while speaking to my staff about a few challenging projects, I realized the wisdom of this statement.
When I think about challenging projects with difficult to please customers, negative emotions may start to flow. You know what I mean - the emails with subject lines or From addresses that you dread reading. The meetings you do not want to attend. The politics that are impossible to successfully navigate.
Reacting to any situation when you've already biased yourself with negative emotions leads to less than perfect thinking and communication. All that stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) leads to a dry mouth, a racing heart, and scattered thoughts.
Instead, if you think about the endpoint you want to reach - a successful project, a better technology, a completed implementation - and take the actions needed to achieve this result, you'll be thoughtful, calm, and reasoned.
Here's an example. Rolling out EHRs to 1700 clinicians including all the capabilities and workflow redesign to achieve meaningful use is a change management challenge. Along the way, there will be naysayers, raised voices, and criticism. There may even be mean-spirited personal verbal jousting.
We know what actions we need to take - implement a practice every week between now and the end of the year. Follow our proven model office configuration. Build the interfaces and interoperability needed for care coordination, patient engagement, and quality measurement. By keeping our focus on the "act" and not the "react" to the few naysayers, we get closer to our goal every day, without emotion or negativity.
So next time you have a difficult project, difficult people, or difficult politics, think about the wisdom of Xena - Act, do not react.
You'll feel better and achieve your goals.
Posted by John Halamka at 3:00 AM