Make a Fist, Stay Still and Squeeze!

Abundance Accountability Respect


Story: Getting major surgery puts you in contact with a range of health care workers outside of just a phenomenal surgeon and operating team. They include a cadre of nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, clinicians, food service folks, receptionists, and custodians. I was in the hospital from pre-operating admission Sept. 6 at 11 a.m., to final discharge on Sept. 8 at 1 p.m. For the record, and to the date of this publication, I couldn’t be more grateful for the health support I’ve received. To keep all of this in perspective, I have a brand NEW knee, and however one defines the entire experience, that’s a WOW! At the same time, if any in one the health industry or any student of culture, leadership and work wants to learn from my experience, there is much to reflect on.

Key Point: I believe there are a few differentiating categories of personas working simultaneously in every organization. This was reinforced during my hospital stay. How is that possible? What are the implications? I would broadly define the groups this way:

  1. The “I’m All In:” This person completes their work with the organization’s purpose and values clearly understood, at the front end of everything they do. They treat you as if you were getting this surgery done for the first time (which I was), and not as just another ho-hum knee replacement. They have enormous compassion. As tired, short staffed, poorly equipped, etc. that they might be, the patient/customer would never know. They make you feel like they were assigned there just for you, and their commitment to heal and make you feel much better as quickly as possible is literal.
  2. The “I’m a Jobber:” This person is there to do a job, and that’s primarily it. They feel a combination of exhausted, overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated. They may like a few of their co-workers, and feel it’s necessary to put up with whiny, entitled patients, as well as the incompetent knobs from other departments that make their jobs tougher. After doing this for ___ years, their best times are pay days and/or shift-end. As a patient, you are viewed primarily as a transaction.
  3. The “I’m a Hater:” This person hides it well enough to keep from being fired. However, they mostly hate their jobs, co-workers, the organization and most of all patients. If you look closely enough, you can see or feel their sneer of contempt. At their very worst, they enjoy showing you who is really in control, even if it causes you a little discomfort. They know they will likely never see you again. “Good riddance” is what they consciously or unconsciously mutter. They actually intentionally sabotage the culture.

So during my customer stay, I experienced the entire continuum of personas. I ran into someone who was totally compassionate about getting ahead of my pain management, and another who seemed way more interested in managing time intervals and dosage. (I.E., “I care much less if you’re suffering than me following the rules, even if pain medication isn’t working).”

I was served by someone who recognized that the crutches I brought in were too short, and even though their shift was nearly over, went out of their way to get me new ones and set them up. Some people around me answered my buzz on the call button with urgent concern. Others treated me like I was a big pain in the behind, and to feel a little ashamed asking for help. One food service person smacked the lunch tray on the counter, way out of my reach. When I politely asked if they could place it on my bed tray, they told me to call the nurse. One person took blood samples with eye contact and a reassuring smile, while another made zero connection – “just tighten your fist, stay still, and release.” Overall, one could not help but feel that much of the discharge experience had little to with healing, and everything to do with paperwork, legal compliance and a push out the door.

I have many more examples of behavior that fits into each personna. And that’s what is both challenging and exceptionally interesting about culture, organizations and work. Companies that are made up primarily of “All In’s” are fundamentally and exponentially better at the individual, leadership and business process level. This is hard to do. Companies made up primarily of “haters” go out of business over time. I think the most common organizations have all three in play. That makes it difficult. In most cases, leaders over simplify by saying they just need to fire, then hire more “All In’s.” Super great leaders and organizations inspire everyone to be an “All In” most of the time. That’s the hard work of the hard work. 

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. What is the category breakdown in your company? (Recognizing that people are not always perfect, but mostly in one category or another). If you’re less than 80 percent “All In,” you are at best, average.
  2. What will you do about it?  

Giving blood in Personal Leadership,


One Millennial View: Yeah, I’m pretty sure we’ve all worked with people that fall into these three categories. It’s disappointing when you hear it exists at a hospital. Goes to show you, even a hospital with enough haters is destined to flatline.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis