As a keynote speaker, I am blessed with the opportunity to meet and work with some of the most talented people in a wide variety of professional fields. Recently, that privilege led to a conversation with Dr. Raj Narayan, a neurosurgeon and director of the Cushing Neuroscience Institute, part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System in Manhasset, NY. I had just given a presentation about Blue Angel methodology, and how High Performance could be applied within health systems when Dr. Narayan prompted me with a question whose underlying nature, I think, extends far beyond the world of healthcare.
The question grew from the incredible parallels between the sort of flying I did with the Blue Angels, and the sort of work that surgeons like Dr. Narayan call their daily business. First of all, there is a level of premium to both. The field of neurosurgery is known in the medical profession for requiring incredible training, skill, and accuracy. Only the best of the best can achieve that position, and even at the top there remains a high degree of risk that has to be countered with regimented process, teamwork, and above all TRUST. Much like the bold style of flight that the Blue Angels make routine, neurosurgery is not dangerous, just inherently unforgiving.
But Dr. Narayan noted that there was a difference. You see, each pilot flies with The Blue Angels for 3 or 4 years maximum. It’s part of the Blue’s renewal process that ensures a percentage of new talent every single year. Knowing that fact, Dr. Narayan asked me “How can an individual sustain that level of excellence, and that level of high performance for the 20 or 30+ years of a career in a high pressure field like neurosurgery? ”
Sustaining High Performance
The answer to Dr. Narayan’s question is not simple. It’s a piece of a larger puzzle that, as a leadership consultant, I have discussed with companies in the Fortune 500 and beyond.
However, I’ve found that complicated questions can often be addressed with simple means. I believe that one of the most important tools for sustaining High Performance is rooted in the habitual expression of gratitude. The Blue Angels have a saying, “Glad To Be Here.” It’s something that they say to one another to express a gratefulness of multiple degrees. Glad To Be Here is a statement of purpose. It’s an expression of thankfulness that they give for being a part of an incredible organization that houses some of the best pilots in the world. It’s gratitude for the opportunity to be an ambassador of goodwill, and for being allowed to take part in something larger than yourself. Above all, it’s an expression of gratitude for the incredible support staff that makes your performance possible.
That level of expression unites people. It builds trust that in turn allows for more fluid teamwork. I’ve found that in organizations where teamwork and trust and gratitude are the norm, sustainable High Performance is not only possible, but probable. Lift the trust in your team, strengthen the bonds of teamwork and your success will endure.
Glad To Be Here!