When my children were growing up, they used to complain about how they couldn’t do things quickly, and as well as they wanted. I explained that if you didn’t invest time and effort in a task, you would never do it as well as you wanted and would not be able to gain the satisfaction you craved.I used the analogy of a bank account, which I still use today and it always makes people smile! If you don’t put anything in, then you won’t be able to take anything out, it’s really as simple as that. This week has been a particularly positive one, with many pieces of my work all falling into place, and various things following on from last week, beginning to reach successful conclusions.
My belief has always been that if you invest time in people you will always receive back more than your investment. My life has been built around having strong relationships, in both my personal and business lives. I guess my genuine interest in people has helped, but I have always wanted to understand better the people working for me, and with me. Many people including my wife feel I’m continually talking too much, and to a degree they are right. But I have a genuine desire to learn more about others, and also share my experiences with them. Communication has been a big part of things for me, when either managing staff or marketing my business, and it seems that I have continued that theme into my own healthcare and support work.
As a long term patient at my hospital I am well known by many staff and patients, and now I am also involved in some staff training, my profile within the hospital is quite high. My care is quite complex and is shared across several departments, and things generally work smoothly as I am a proactive person who likes to be involved in decision making about my own health. Some recent issues have involved me in specialist tests and scans within the Neurology dept. Various courses of action were discussed with that team and then later my own. It wasn’t plain sailing as there were many different options but together we put together a plan that will hopefully be right for me personally. I felt very comfortable at all times during this process, as I have been working with these people for so long. They know me well and what I want from my life, we are completely open with each other and they know that my expectations are realistic. But that relationship didn’t just happen, it has been built over many years.
The same applies to all of my cancer support work. Only in recent years have I been able to be truly effective, since it has taken time for people to know more about what I do and how I work. So much is about trust, and that is not automatically given it is earned, and generally over a long period of time! When I had my own business, I developed strong bonds with my customers and suppliers, and we rarely required anything in writing as our word was enough in most cases. It feels no coincidence that where I did most business were the people I got to know the best. This theme follows into our private lives with friends. As the years have gone by, the people that you have spent time developing relationships with will generally still be with you now, but others will come and go frequently during different periods.
Of course we can’t build relationships with everyone we meet, our modern day complaint is that we have no time! Normally you feel some form of chemistry when you meet a person, and from there you decide where things go. As a long term patient I have formed strong bonds with many other patients, either personally or via social media. This has been incredibly powerful for all of us, but of course we have a very important common ‘glue,’ our illness. Although many of us haven’t known each other so long we have shared many personal things about our treatment and side effects, and a strong trust has developed between us.
A successful relationship must always work both ways, and for that to happen each party will need to work at it. Within the work aspect of what I do there are many people that don’t really get that. They want to take when they want and offer nothing in return. Purely interested in broadcasting their own agenda and not collaborating for the greater good. It generally involves what I call ‘tummy tickling!’ An initial contact is followed by telling me how good my work is and then comes the ask! Can I share, will I write, can I do a presentation, with rarely any thought of what they can do for me, then another big gap until the next communication.
My experiences in the corporate world of cancer continue to surprise me, but are no longer shocking. I am more cynical with what I see here, than in my previous work which was in one of the most ruthless industries in business (ladies fashion.) Rarely do I see organisations interested in building relationships unless they have something to gain, fundraising, or publicity etc. Constant staff turnover and new projects leave little room, but I don’t really feel a desire, either. How can we expect to improve things for people affected by cancer if one side is doing the giving and the other one all the taking? Don’t we all want the same things?
As always I have shared my thoughts and experiences above, and please feel free to share yours below.