This morning I listened to an episode of the James Altrucher podcast where he talked to his producer Steven Cohen about why people fail. One quote that stuck out at me, as corny as it may sound, was that “we need to point thumbs, not fingers”. That is, we need to stop being so concerned about what other people are doing and start looking at ourselves.
It’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot over the past few months. And it’s something that I find I need to constantly remind myself about. Because it’s so easy to get caught up in where other people fall short, especially when it relates to something we care about.
When I think about it in a pharmacy context, the classic example that I think everyone is guilty of is the topic of warehouse style pharmacies. I was engaged in such a conversation yesterday in fact. And I must be honest, I’ve never really stopped to think about how little there is to gain from this approach of complaining about them until this morning. Or even any gain at all? It doesn’t influence their practice in any positive way. In fact, it has the potential to further disengage them and polarise the conversation. And it doesn’t make me feel good or inspired in anyway. If anything it makes me feel kind of sad and deflated. So what’s the point other than branding yourself as not being one of them?
I don’t know what the correct approach is, but I’ll tell you what I’m going to try and start doing from now on. I’m going to try and stop myself from getting sucked into conversations about how bad things are (this is really hard for me
sometimes often) and I’m going to try my best to empathise. I’m going to try and focus less on generalisations and avoid making assumptions based on individual’s career decisions.
It’s an important thing for me to get my head around, because I think it’s things like this that can flip a situation from positive to negative exclusivity, particularly in a group setting. What do I mean by positive exclusivity? Good question, I’m trying to get my head around that too.
Here’s what I think I mean by positive exclusivity. I really value the idea of being generous in your work. Of offering service to others without expecting something in return. I have the firm belief that we all benefit from each others success and that’s how I want to live my life. But I’m not a martyr. I have boundaries and I think it’s important to maintain them. I consider positive exclusivity to be circumstances when I hold those boundaries based upon shared values and principles. Negative exclusivity would be when I put those boundaries in place because of something like a personality clash, or personal judgement.
If we take pharmacy work as an example, I’m very open to having a discussion with a Pharmacist who is writing up an HMR report if it will help them get their head around the situation and understand what’s going on. They’re trying to do better work in service of the patient and the GP. I am not open to an HMR pharmacist asking me questions because they are expediting the process of looking something up for themselves in a core reference. I read this as being lazy in an attempt to be more profitable. The outcome might be the same, in that they are both producing an HMR report, but I interpret the actions and the reasons underpinning them are different. One is based upon self-improvement, the other maximising personal gain.
The question is, how do we recognise these values in others without being super judgemental? I have no idea, it’s all based on judgement in one way or the other. I think it’s probably about being open. Being open to sharing more of ourselves, so that others know where we’re coming from. And being open to being wrong and changing your point of view. In a group setting I think this means being transparent, even if it looks a bit wanky. Clearly articulating and defining shared values and principles and using them as the basis of decision-making. I feel like that would be a good start, anyway.