The last few months have taken our family into completely uncharted territory. The result is the birth of our first grandchild two weeks ago. A tiny but perfectly formed baby girl born eight weeks pre-term, who stole our hearts in an instant with her quiet but determined reserve.
Territory in the maternity hospital has become as familiar as my desk. A new set of knowledge on neonates more eagerly sort than any expert business webinar.
We have developed a deep respect for our taxes at work as we now populate a sanctum that most will never see. NICU (Neonate Intensive Care Unit) is a place of contrast, where technology and care intersect, noise and tranquillity are perfect companions and life and death are at the hands of those we had never met before and may never meet again.
Angels at work
Gliding like angels between neonate incubators, they feed their minute charges mother’s milk by gravity, drop by drop, through rice-noodle soft tubes into their tiny stomaches. They change nappies the size of mittens while checking the babies’ constantly monitored vital signs.
They coo soothing words as little rosebud mouthes suckle the air in an attempt to learn the art of co-ordinated sucking, breathing and swallowing.
Lifting these near-naked neonates connected to drips and tubes and monitoring devices, they gently guide them across the space from the safety of their hi-tech cocoons to their anxiously waiting mothers. They tuck their little limbs up under their mother’s shirts, so that their skin to skin contact can release vital development and bonding hormones.
It is a miracle at work and we sleep at night knowing that this precious life and those of many thousands of other neonates a year are being watched over by this remarkable species of people.
As I ferry to and from the NICU, I’ve had time to assess life and business. Nothing like a new life, especially one so vulnerable to make you re-evaluate all that you are and can be.
What do I do, I have thought, that saves, changes or uplifts lives? I don’t save lives, although I wrote recently about my Owen Meany complex and the belief that by habit I do watch out for others. But do I or can I, change and uplift lives?
It’s about intent
Not long ago I was privileged to spend the day in the company of the good KPI community learning together from a fine coach. We were asked to think about our intent. Some would say purpose. What two or three words might sum up why we did what we did and what values would uphold that intent. It’s a rigorous exercise and difficult to avoid ideas and words that don’t sound like cliches.
I’ve drawn the conclusion that it matters not whether you coach people, drive a bus or run a multi-million dollar organisation, your intent is inherent from the instance you connect with another human being. It leaps from the synapses of one to the other, literally in the blink of an eye.
Try two restaurants serving the same fare, peopled by different staff. In the first, as you enter a person instantly connects, smiles and approaches to show you to a table. In the second, you stand for minutes while a waiter seemingly practised in avoiding eye contact finally but grudgingly, waves a hand in the direction of a table.
This small interaction reflects the intent of the organisation which is transferred to their employees. It will most likely impact on your experience and your decision to go back or not.
Upholding the vision
I looked up the vision statement for the Mercy Hospital. As with most organisations it could do with a good edit, but the intent was clear immediately in these words ‘enduring capacity and passion to serve those with special needs.’
My daughter and I between us have interacted with maybe 100 or more doctors, midwives, neonate nurses and administration staff at The Mercy in the last 14 weeks.
Almost to a one, they have shown an ‘enduring capacity and passion to serve our special needs’ – for twelve weeks while my daughter bravely fought to keep her little girl safely in-utero and for the last two, and for several more weeks to come, attending to our tiny grand-daughter in NICU.
It’s a public hospital. It could equally be populated by begrudging, overly busy, uninterested people. We would still have needed their services. But during this unequalled period of high stress, what a massive difference it has made to be served by people who uphold this vision. To each of them, I give great thanks.
A hundred little things
So now it is my job not just to build websites, or inspire you to blog and build community but to uplift your life. It doesn’t need to be a Nobel Prize winning affair. A life can be uplifted by a small kindness, a rationale voice, a referral, shared knowledge, consideration and hopefully by posts like this.
It can also be achieved by helping others uphold their intent through their online presence as they go about servicing their clients. In the best of worlds, in aligning their business to a cause and proving that what can be done together is yet to be imagined.
This post is dedicated to the carers of these smallest humans in the world, these little babies who work so hard to grow. And to my grand-daughter who more than anything has demonstrated her intent to be with us in this world and who will hold me accountable if I fail in this work.
What is your intent, your purpose? How will you change how you do what you do when you articulate it. I’d love to hear from you.