I was reminiscing this weekend with friends. We recalled a colleague. A GP of senior years who was known for his special combination of forthrightness and, I think I would call it, love. The patients certainly loved him- even when told as one man was , on one occasion - what he needed was an Exocet missile up his backside. We could all see the truth in it, including the man himself...it's just that most of us wouldn't have dared utter it! He could, because he also was deeply compassionate , known to pass on, always discretely ,some notes in an envelope from his own wallet when he saw moving evidence of need. When will we see his like again?
And I also remember him with a great twinkle in his eye....like when he asked how many bottles there were in a unit! When I was interviewed for a job as a nursing sister with them, on noticing that I had a degree ( not typical at that time in nursing), he sat back in his chair and said did you learn anything? Answer that in an interview! Well a bit , I quipped.....but looking back its made me think. Where have I learned most?
Well of course I learned lots of facts at university and many them I have even applied from time to time. But maybe most importantly I learned to love learning and that love remains. I also learned to question, again not typical,of nursing at that time, and it has served me well. One of the reasons I was drawn to my work in the voluntary sector I have often thought.
But this blog in particular is the reminder that there is learning in the personal experience too. This blog is mostly about my experience of course and we are all unique. The Breakthrough Service Pledge however does demonstrate the value of using that experience in a planned way to create change and drive improvement.And seeing it in action recently really reinforced for me the power of patient feedback to deliver an important message that cannot be ignored, even when it has been ignored before. It was spine tingling to see attitudes challenged and shift before your eyes.
Since Breakthrough Breast Cancer being in Scotland we have been able to build on the success of the service pledge in England and Wales and I am so pleased we are now working with all the cancer networks in Scotland to roll it out. And even going back to some units we worked with earlier to recognise and celebrate the changes now in progress. The pledge has real potential for achieving change and now we are looking at other ways it might achieve our objectives...very exciting opportunities to explore in the months ahead. If only we could clone ourselves...at no cost!
This week I was reminded again how much more there is to do and how lucky I have been. Not just recently but last time too. Mid week I picked up a letter addressed to me. It contained a cheque written to Breakthrough. This was in memory of a forty two year old woman who died just after Christmas. She leaves a two year old to grow up without their mother. I had to keep walking through the office to the privacy of my office and a quiet bubble......and reflect on how necessary our work is.
At the end of this challenging week my reason to be cheerful is its my two days in Windsor, as part of the Windsor leadership dialogue. We are based in St George's House dedicated to nurturing wisdom. The focus of this years dialogue is creating authentic leadership. Interesting theme for me as i have used my blog to increase my authentic communication within my role. And its been good for me personally i know but what about my work?Challenging dialogue in the grounds of Windsor Castle is a heady mix of centuries of history and a the shared experience and wisdom from an eclectic mix of participants that is profoundly humbling. Not sure how I have snuck in but it's a highlight of my year now.Thankfully now I know to pack warm jammies and a wooly vest! Not glamorous but very necessary. Can't wait.
This week after utilising a Burns poem in an unforgivable way I have decided to make amends and quote a piece to reinforce the power of being your own authentic self to finish! Its from A Mans a Man for A That- I recommend the whole poem but the part I wanted to use is:
The honest man, though e'er sae poor
Is king o' men for a'that