Saturday, October 12, 2013

Nurses and Collective Success

Collectivism and collaboration are hot topics in the entrepreneurial spaces where I currently hang out. Just last weekend, my business partner and RN.FM Radio co-host Kevin Ross and I were at the National Nurses in Business Association annual conference in Orlando, and our presentation was entitled "Cross-Pollination: Collaboration on Steroids". This notion was well-received by the audience, and our assertion that competition belongs in the dustbin of history seemed to hit home with most everyone who was present.

In high-quality healthcare environments, collaboration and cooperation are essential. Imagine an operating room that's managed based on competition rather than cooperation, or think of an ICU where every nurse is an island and no one will cover their colleagues for bathroom breaks or meals. (I know, I know, some of these sorrowful situations actually exist, but let's just think about the places where cooperation and collaboration reign supreme, shall we?)

So, as many nurses decide to enter the world of business and entrepreneurship, we need to take the collaborative mindset that's the hallmark of the best healthcare delivery teams and apply it to the way we do business in the world.

If you truly want your colleagues in the healthcare milieu to be successful in doing their work, why shouldn't you want the same for your colleagues in the business milieu as well? It just makes sense, doesn't it?

Collaboration Versus Competition

Just like when you work cooperatively with another nurse in the NICU, PACU, OR or ER, working collaboratively with other nurses or nurse entrepreneurs who are mining for the same gold as you is one of the secrets to forging long-lasting and powerful alliances.

In my own experience, seeing others as competitors (even those pursuing the same potential clients as me) is an exhausting, draining and worthless preoccupation that leads to nothing but misery and isolation.

Being hypervigilant about the so-called "competition" will only lead you down the road of comparing yourself to others, feeling unnecessarily critical of them, or possibly despairing over your inability to "have it together" like they do. This "compare and despair" attitude can be very self-injurious, and I don't recommend it. Believe me, I've been there, and it's not pretty.

In contrast, if you reach out to the so-called "competition", you can find or create rich relationships, unlimited possibilities for collaboration and cooperation, and a type of symbiosis that feeds everyone and diminishes no one.

Whereas competition is about pulling the "other" down while propping yourself up, collaboration is about lifting everyone up, including--but not limited to--yourself. 

The Brain Drain

Spending most of your time worrying about what others are doing and how they may "get ahead" of you is a drain on your mental, psychological, spiritual and even financial resources.

Sure, we can let Coke and Pepsi and Ford and Chevy duke it out in the court of consumer spending habits, but do we really need to follow their business model? Does "Nurse Coach A" really need to spend his or her resources trying to get a leg up on "Nurse Coach B's" market share, or can Nurse Coach A simply reach out to Nurse Coach B, find ways to collaborate and cross-pollinate, and create a mutually beneficial relationship where everyone wins?

I think time spent worrying about some illusory notion of competition is a major drain of your creative juices, and your time would be much more intelligently spent when invested in product development, creating strategic partnerships, content creation, and the support of other like-minded individuals and brands with whom you feel an affinity.

Call A "Triple Code C"

When a code is called in the hospital, every member of the Code Team comes running from every corner of the facility in order to save the patient. No one worries about their hair, their checkbook balance, or whether the other nurse on the team will get there first or deliver the final life-saving compressions. The Code Team works in a ballet of cooperation and collaboration, rushing headlong together into the controlled chaos that may bring the patient back from the brink of death.

If you are, for instance, a new nurse entrepreneur who is just starting out, you might be intimidated by others who seem to have so much more polish than you. You may envy others' websites, or you may feel jealous of the clients that seem to be drawn to them like bees to honey.

These feelings can do one of two things: they can drag you down into despair, or they can propel you into action. And when you are propelled into action, you can rush into the space of competition and trying to "one-up" your "competitors", or you can relax, breathe, and realize that forging symbiotic alliances and relationships is a much better use of your time.

My friends, I suggest you call a "Triple Code C" when it comes to your business, entrepreneurial venture, or other pursuit. "Triple Code C" means "Collaboration, Cooperation and Cross-Pollination", and calling such a code in your own life can make all the difference in the world.

Whether you're in clinical practice or a solo business venture, a "Triple Code C" means that you're open, collaborative, non-competitive, cooperative, cross-pollinating, cross-promotional, and seeking the best for everyone.

A "Triple Code C" is not just a code you call from to time. This code is one you live by, breathe by and die by. You live and breathe collaboration, and you bring that energy to everything you do.

Cooperation and collaboration are the energies that will propel you forward on a wave of positivity and good will. Now, doesn't that sound like a great way to live?


This blog post was written to be included in the next edition of the new Scrubs Magazine Nursing Blog Carnival, which is be hosted by various nurse bloggers and published on a regular basis.

Thanks to Scrubs, Brittney Wilson (The Nerdy Nurse) and Elizabeth Scala for including me. 

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