I got the following picture from Dave Anderson who leads our maintenance efforts in Bartow. He said: “This picture says a lot.”
I sent back a note saying: “I’m afraid to ask how you see me?”
He humbled me with his response: “It is not to point out how I see others. It is for my own self reflection and to decide which I should be or strive to be.”
Leaders go first – into the fire – showing the way up the steep hill.
Leaders go last when it’s time to feast.
I heard Pastor Andy Stanley say a leader gains the confidence of his team by using his leverage to build up the team. It starts simply with the question: “How can I help?”
I appreciate Dave’s reminder that leaders pause to reflect and to act upon those reflections.
I read an article recently about the recruitment of Marc Trestman to be the head coach of the Chicago Bears.
Trestman has been a National Football League coach for many years. He got an early start and was known as an offensive “genius” who tutored quarterbacks particularly well.
He longed for an opportunity to be a head coach but was consistently passed over. It seemed when he was interviewed, he gave the distinct impression he knew how an offense worked but left some doubt about whether he was a leader.
Eventually, he left the NFL to take a head coaching job in the Canadian Football League for the Montreal Alouettes. He essentially remade himself into the coach that folks were looking for in the NFL. While doing so, his team won two championships.
Following his selection in Chicago, people close to the selection revealed this about the process:
“During his job interview, Trestman didn’t talk about X’s and O’s or calling plays. He talked about leadership, teaching life skills, making the locker room an environment of respect and clarity, and his newly adopted ‘servant mentality.’”
Trestman was once about X’s and O’s. He liked the strategic game day opportunities of calling plays. But, until he realized he had to move on to other elements of the game, he was never going to be selected.
Most of us start in a job because of a specific area of expertise. But, the more leadership you assume, the more the job becomes about the people.
You will never do a worse job by striving to improve your people skills.
This is the decompress day on our trip. The surgeries are complete. The team completed 90 cases. We feel blessed.
We were speculating last night on what the cost of those 90 surgeries would be in America. We arrived at an average of about $10,000 a case. Which would mean that the services provided to the Guatemalans were approaching $1 million.
Another of our surgeons reminded us that would be the pure cost of the surgeries. In America, we would have done an assortment of costly scans and tests for each one for the purposes of “defensive medicine.” That would have driven the cost well over $1 million.
If you’re someone who likes to see their charitable contributions made for maximum impact, Faith in Practice is a good investment.
So, after a last set of rounds to check on remaining patients, the team takes some time to explore Antigua, which is a tourist destination in Guatemala.
It is loaded with historic sanctuaries, all Catholic. I’ve yet to locate a Protestant church building though I know they are here.
Antigua is close to a couple of active volcanoes. One erupted last year about this time. Smoke and spew can frequently be observed.
Some of the team headed to a local coffee plantation where there is a series of zip lines to ride to explore the jungle canopy. Others took a walking tour of the city. Some of us are headed to an orphanage this afternoon. Some are just doing the local shopping.
The street is full of vendors trying to eke out a living. In Antigua, there are many service workers. Labor is cheap, so power equipment is rare. Gardeners trim with clippers and sweepers sweep with palm fronds lashed to a pole. There is nary a blower or powered clipper to be found.
It’s hard to know the mind of the Guatemalan worker. But, having been here three years, I see the same people doing the same thing. Eager to serve.
In America, we are blessed to be able to aspire to greater things. When talent, ambition, and hard work are combined, we frequently have those aspirations met. Not sure these folks here can hope for the same. Yet, there’s a smile on their faces. It’s a culture difference for sure.
Serving on this mission in Guatemala reinforces many of the things that make teams perform at high levels.
There are 34 people on the team. Eight of us aren’t graced with medical skills or training. Twenty-six are. Those 26 will man four operating rooms, making sure patients are ready for surgery, experience the surgery and are cared for after the surgery until they can be released to go home.
Most of the patients are sicker than we in America would be allowed to get before surgery took place. Most of the patients get discharged before we in America would prefer to be discharged. But, since most of the people never expected that their ailments could be healed, they express gratitude for the blessing of the miracle and stoically endure the pain as they head home to heal.
While us non-medical types cook, run errands, handle logistics to aid the medical types, the medical team has to form and gel quickly. A few have some experience together but many are new to the group.
For this to work well, you have to be willing to speak your opinion and be assertive about telling what you have done, what you have been trained to do and what you are capable of doing. As the week flows forward, people swap places to better execute the care. Relationships and trust build.
From time to time, a medical need presents itself that we don’t have the ideal team member to address. When that occurs, you will find doctors dropping back to assist or nurses doing things in an operating room where they usually would be working caring for patients in recovery. We have students along as well. They all rave at the vast amount of experience they get on the trip.
The bad attitude is rare. The stakes are too high. The opportunity to change lives and to make a difference trumps ego.
I’ve been watching a great team this week. I am confident it will help me be a better teammate when I return. Thanks for holding down the fort while I’ve been away.
We are in our last day of surgery in Guatemala.
It’s fun to watch a team come together. As we gather on Saturday, the opening hours are a bit awkward as people assess what’s up. On our team, 16 of 34 had worked together before. The rest of the folks were new.
So, the task is for the veterans to pull the new folks into the team and get ready to perform massive rounds of medical care. When you think of it, surgery in an operating room is one of the most synchronized events that occur. Consider that for many on our team, they will work with new people, in a new surrounding, with unfamiliar equipment and inferior lighting using donated medical supplies with the idea of achieving great results for the people they are treating. It puts the concept of “Faith in Practice” in a completely different context.
With the stakes being high (20+ surgeries a day), the team forms very quickly. These guys are pretty good at sizing each other up. All the tenets of good teamwork begin to come into play: The right surgeons get assigned to the surgeries that meet their skills and experiences. If we don’t have folks with the right skills on hand, the right person with the right ability to do the best for the patient raises their hand.
The level of trust grows by the hour with the team. Actually, you can see the confidence grow as nurses try things outside their routine responsibilities from home and “ace” it. I get the sense everyone who comes here leaves a better medical professional because of the things they saw that they don’t usually see and the things they did that they don’t usually do. They leave here a better person because they have been willing to try things they wouldn’t normally try and they learn that combining “faith” with the “trying” accomplishes great things.
As the team begins to function at a very high level, the stories begin to unfold. But, the stories aren’t about what they did. They are about how they have been blessed. Patients praying to God in gratitude for the fact that they came. Patients describing how their lives will be changed now that they have been healed. Patients who have been treated by other teams bringing their friends from far away to be cared for by the medical team.
Our leader Randy Hartline, a surgeon from Knoxville who had lead this team for over a decade, alerted us to this opportunity as we started the week on Sunday.
“We all come here to pour out our help to these underprivileged people,” he said. “But, let the Guatemalans pour themselves into you. Because they will. They come here to be helped but we will leave here with the greater blessing.”
Pretty cool to see a plan come together. It’s worked just like that.
I have accompanied my wife on a medical mission trip this week to Antigua, Guatemala. She is on a surgery team that will perform over 90 surgeries for poor people this week. I run errands for the team and wash the breakfast dishes.
Most kids go to school here but do not have much opportunity for higher education. At the hospital we serve, all the medical service staff is home trained. There aren’t many nursing, therapy or technician schools in Guatemala.
The hospital finds bright, willing and motivated workers. The doctors and nurses who visit happily teach them. The workers get to practice immediately what they are taught. They trade responsibilities around so they each know what the other does. They are a well oiled team.
The American pros say the skill level is high. Medical care provided by the locals is first rate. The capabilities increase every year.
In America, these folks wouldn’t be given a shot to do what they do here. We require formal training.
But, they say necessity is the mother of invention. In Guatemala, they find a way to fill a gap where conventional challenges don’t supply ready candidates.
Makes me consider how much more aggressive we should be at teaching and training to fill our employment needs. I think being more aggressive is in order.
Day 1 of surgery is complete with 30 people helped. The surgeries started without a hitch at 8 a.m. and the day went well.
The medical team reports the operating rooms well equipped with aged equipment. So, there’s a little stepping back and adjusting.
The surgeries are done at the Obras Sociales. It is a block wide and long complex anchored by a sanctuary but full of facilities designed to take care of the poor.
There are wards for profoundly retarded adults, profoundly retarded youth and severely malnourished infants. These people are deserted by families without the means to provide care. The government doesn’t either.
There are dental clinics, eye clinics, a pharmacy. There is a laundry, a kitchen. The place is spotless as sweepers and wipers are constantly at work.
All in, there are 500 plus employees. Our staff raves about the competence of the surgical suite team that staffs our four operating suites.
None of them have what we describe as conventional medical training. All of them demonstrate a broad range of skills. All of the skills come from OJT as the rotating teams of pros find them as ready learners. They build on their skills each week. They teach each other as they cross train.
They arrive to open the operating rooms before the team gets there. They stay and clean them when surgery is done for the day.
As an HR guy, it reminds me of the fallacy of determining what someone is capable of at first glance. You combine motivated learners and teachers, some amazing results can happen.
We covet prayers as we continue through three more days of internal and gynecological surgeries. 63 more scheduled over the next three days.