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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Are You Scared to Lead Your Business?

When I first started as an EMT 7 years ago, the thought of having to be in charge of a scene scared me beyond the normal realm of fear-it literally paralyzed me. Just knowing that I might, maybe, kind of sorta have to be in charge and take control of an accident scene or complicated medical problem was something I just didn't feel prepared for. Though I was competent in my skills and delivered kind, effective care to my patients, I did all I could to stay in the background and make sure my partner was the one to run the show.

Then one muggy afternoon in August two years into my EMT career, I found myself at an accident scene involving a wedding party. They had just left the church after taking their vows, their wedding party following behind them as they all proceeded to a local banquet hall for the reception. A quarter mile away from the church, however, the bride and groom were struck by a teenager in a full sized Dodge Ram who had run a stop sign. The domino affect took place with 3 cars involved and 8 patients injured, the groom severely.

As we raced the ambulance to the scene, all I could think about was-nothing. My mind was blank, adrenaline running through me, making me primed and ready to respond. I had all the necessary equipment out and ready to go, my trauma bag over my shoulder as I sat in the back, bumping and bouncing down the road into the unknown. Suddenly, I was jumping out of the ambulance and into mayhem-patients screaming and strewn all over in the ditches and nearby field, First Responders running out to help, passers-by stopping to gawk. Without warning, I was handed a clipboard by my partner. “Go triage and let me know who you want where.” My lips went painfully numb. What? I turned around but my partner was gone. The moments that ensued were blinding, yet driven into my brain with a powerful message I carry with me everyday.

Before I knew it, I had assessed every patient and assigned teams to them, ordered two helicopters, helped direct assisting ambulances, helped moved a patient with a life-threatening shattered pelvis, inserted several IV's and in the blink of an eye, was transporting the very last patient out of the muddy field and on her way to the hospital. All with nobody, yet everybody, standing over me to help guide my decisions. Instead of me asking the questions, I was giving the directions and I had done it effectively and to the best of my ability.

I played that day over and over in my mind for months. Had everything gone according to plan? No. Were there glitches and little mess-ups in the midst of chaos? Sure. Did I find myself static and standing still while everyone else moved around me? No. When my main work was done, I jumped in to the next logical task and completed it. This was forward momentum, and it meant our patients were treated and cared for effectively-our main goal.

While in business, as with any high-stress endeavor, being the leader may not be the optimum position you want to fill. However, I've learned that since I'm the boss, and this is my company, while I may have others to lean over me now and then to listen, I'm the only one who can drive the forward momentum needed to accomplish core goals. I've started thinking of my business as the life I need to save everyday. When one task is done, I move on to the next, regardless of little mix-ups and side steps that may lead me off track.

If you're hiding, waiting for someone else to give you direction, you might want to take a peek in the mirror and release your own inner EMT. You know what to do and how to do it, and if you just listen to yourself, you just might find the way.



Cindy at The Clever Container Co. said...

Great post. Wonderful analogy. When you put it like that...a misstep in my business is nothing compared to making life and death decisions like that. Thanks for the perspective.

Laurie said...

Great post, Lisa! Your story inspires me to put one foot in front of the other and move forward everyday. There will be mistakes and that is okay - it is far better to move forward even with your mistakes than living in fear of them, which can be paralyzing. Even mistakes have value if you can learn from them. Thanks again!

Suzie said...

Great post! You really got me pumped up! I think I am going to go take charge of "myself"!!!