I hope the reflections in these blog posts, which have evolved from my experience as patient and my forty years in medicine as a physician and executive, offer a window into the wonder and love of our shared human condition.
Healthcare entails one human being – the formal caregiver – interacting with another human being – the patient – during times of vulnerability, fear and loss, as well as times of great joy (e.g. birth). Both caregiver and patient share a universal wound (uncertainty, change and loss are inevitable; love is a choice). Both are imperfect human beings, stumbling through life, navigating uncertainty and loss. Both want to protect their loved ones and themselves from pain.
Similarly, leadership entails a wounded human being-the leader- interacting with other wounded human beings-the followers- within an imperfect environment. Leaders ultimately bump into their wounds- their fears, habitual relationship patterns and doubts as constraints to effectiveness.
I practiced as a physician for nearly 25 years before transitioning to full time executive leadership roles. In 2010 I became the Chief Executive Officer of Park Nicollet Health Services, a large Integrated Delivery Network (hospital, clinics, physician practice, home care and research), based in metropolitan Minneapolis Minnesota. I led Park Nicollet to merge with HealthPartners, a large system integrating care delivery and insurance, in 2013.
Moving from youthful illusions of invulnerability to embracing the fullness of loss and love, I realized when I could be still, medicine and leadership brought me back to my starting point- the shared human condition. I hope these blog meditations offer you a few minutes of stillness to understand the truth of the words of T.S. Elliot:
We shall not cease from exploration and the end of our exploring will be to arrive where we started… and know the place for the first time…
Not known, because not looked for but heard, half heard, in the stillness between the two waves of the sea