December 20, 2012

I have often told my children as they were growing up that life is about relationships. Building good partnerships is key to successLouise and Owen on both a personal and professional level.

I have a four legged partner with whom I have a great relationship. That’s me in the photo with my horse Owen (and for you fellow horse lovers Owen is 18.3 hands!)

Owen is the biggest horse in the barn and I must admit, when I first set eyes on him I thought, “Wow, I’m going to be really high off the ground!” But as I climbed into the saddle and witnessed his kind and gentle nature, I knew I could trust him and that we were meant to be partners.

As we say goodbye to 2012, I thought I would share a little advice that Owen has given me throughout the course of our relationship…

1.    Keep your eyes up and look to where you want to go.

In my professional life, I spend a lot of time talking to people about the need for change in our health care system.  The subject of change can be difficult for some people who find comfort in keeping things the same – even if they aren’t working quite right.  But, just like when I’m riding, I keep my eyes focused on where we need to be in health care and it carries me through difficult conversations.  I know in my heart that a less fragmented system, one that has the needs of people and patients at the centre, and a system with more options for care in community, is a system we will all find comfort in.

2.    Sometimes you need to loosen the reins.

Every now and then, I have to let Owen go for a good gallop across the field to burn off some energy. In health care we all work under pressure whether you’re a personal support worker trying to get everyone to the dining room in time to eat  while the food’s still hot or a hospital CEO working to balance your budget. We all need to find healthy ways to let this pressure off whether it’s going for a walk or having a good laugh with friends.  

3.    Keep the burrs from under your saddle……

Sometimes the devil is in the details. I can tell you, if you miss a burr under your saddle you will be in for a rough ride! In health care we all have to think long and hard about the potential burrs and keep an eye out for them. In a hospital setting, it could be hand washing – a small task that can save lives if we remain vigilant.   Each health care sector and organization has its own burr to watch out for. What’s yours?

4.    Take life’s hurdles in stride……

Health care is like other fields … things never go completely smoothly. Often a gap will surface. Owen can jump over or swerve around uneven terrain in a flash. We need to be nimble as well and remember the importance of moving forward rather than panicking and making mistakes.

5.    Carry your friends when they need it…….

Okay I can’t carry Owen. He does all the physical carrying in our relationship. But my job is to steer and make the decisions that will keep us both safe, so in a sense I do some of the carrying work as well. It’s important to recognize that when health care partners come to the table to collaborate on a project, we all bring strengths and are able to contribute positively in different ways.  A larger organization may have more administrative staff who can handle the book keeping, while a smaller one, brings invaluable experience with clients in the field. Working together means shouldering different loads and always learning from one another.

I know I am looking forward to forging through the snowy trails on Owen and working with you in 2013 as we continue to forge ahead blazing a new trail for health care.

Have a happy and safe holiday season….