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Ownership with an “Iron” Will

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At the end of last week I had the supreme pleasure of conducting an Ownership Spirit seminar with 400 new employees of a brand new hospital here in the Phoenix valley, Banner Ironwood.  Banner Ironwood is opening its doors in just a few days and has the enviable and unique opportunity to create a healing, nurturing, Ownership culture right from day one.   In any business, you can get a strong, powerful climate by default or by design, and the leadership team at Banner Ironwood is passionate about choosing that culture by design.  Two of Banner’s chief points of focus are on excellent patient care and employee engagement and retention.  These are both achieved when each employee, each leader, each caregiver, and each volunteer thinks like an Owner.  The leaders and staff at Banner Ironwood are choosing Ownership on purpose.

This choice was part of Banner Ironwood’s vision and mission from the ground up.  Planted around the hospital are ironwood trees, the “nurse plant” of the Sonoran desert.  They stand as living reminders of the hospital’s mission and values.  Additionally, the ironwood blossoms are prominently featured in the artwork around the building.  I was impressed with their hospital promise, part of which reads:

We stand with strength, compassion and knowledge, welcoming all who seek healing beneath our branches.

We are each but a single leaf on the tree, yet by joining together we provide a safe, healing canopy for our patients, their families, and each other.

We are each part of the shelter, the refuge, the nurturing, the strength, and the integrity that symbolizes Banner Ironwood Medical Center.

I spoke to this large gathering of employees and volunteers about the opportunity they have to create a culture of healing through their very thought processes.  Even as only one leaf on the Banner Ironwood “tree,” they each have a very real and substantive opportunity to nurture or poison, to help or to harm, to bless or to blight, simply by choosing Owner or Victim every time they walk through the hospital doors.

There is more than one way to contaminate a hospital.  As real as the transfer of germs can be without proper protocols in place, the transfer of emotions can be just as harmful.  As important as handwashing, state-of-the-art equipment,  best-practice initiatives, and excellent patient care are, service, compassion, love and listening can have just as powerful effects on the healing process.  True caring by these 400 individuals will be just as critical to patients as they marshal the disease-fighting elements of their bodies, as the treatment regimes and medicines the caregivers will administer.  In other words, the HOW is just as important as the WHAT.

I offer two examples of the irreplaceable role of a genuine caregiver:

LaTrice Haney is an oncology nurse who understands the real power of caregiving.  She was Lance Armstrong’s nurse and Armstrong called her “an angel” in his book, It’s Not About the Bike.  He said that her answers to his questions were always calm and succinct.  She never sugar-coated his illness or the battles he was up against.  But she always talked positively about the doctors, the staff, the treatment protocols, and the possible outcomes.  LaTrice Haney was only one person in the team of people helping Armstrong fight his battle against testicular cancer, and yet she made the biggest difference because of HOW she cared.  She helped Lance fight his disease with knowledge and courage because she thought and talked and acted like an owner.

Another example happened just a few miles from me, at another of Banner’s hospitals here in the valley, where there is another Owner-Healer by the name of Dr. Edward Perlstein.  One of his patients, James Lee, was a gifted sculptor.  James suffered a stroke that caused significant damage to the right side of his body, causing James to despair that he could no longer use his art or practice his love of sculpting.  In the weeks following his stroke, he languished.  Dr. Perlstein could see that James was not making any serious progress toward healing.  He had lost his will to live.  One day Dr. Perlstein asked James when he was going to sculpt again.  For a moment James thought the doctor was mocking him.  James shrugged him off.  In recounting the moment later, Dr. Perlstein said, “I told him his art was in his mind and not in his right hand.”

This was the turning point for James and made all the difference in his healing.  He began to think differently and he began to try his art again, left-handed.  A few years later James was commissioned to create a sculpture for the Banner Heart Hospital campus.  It stands today as a tribute to him, to Dr. Perlstein, and to the power of true healers everywhere.

In every business, in every human endeavor, taking a stand against victim-thinking has a miraculous effect on outcomes.  As we each take full responsibility for our corporate cultures by taking full responsibility for our own thoughts, we make a difference in the quality of those outcomes–for ourselves, for our businesses, for those we serve.  As we leave negative thought patterns behind, contamination is reduced or eliminated and infectious doubt, fear and criticism are curtailed.  And as we focus on the difference we can make by truly connecting with and caring about other people–the HOW and not just the WHAT–amazing things can happen.

I’m interested in your thoughts.

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