It was three Saturdays ago today that I was circling around a hill in Carpinteria on my bicycle at about 35 mph that it happened. My little thin racing wheels hit not one, not two but three big fat potholes. Next thing I knew the ground was moving fast toward me and I skidded across the other side of the street and came bashing down against the aptly named “crash” barrier. There I lay having my own kind of California dream.
I was riding with a young man named Mikey who’ve we’ve taken under our wings for the last nine years now and thankfully he was uninjured, having avoided the holes I hit moments earlier. Although in the middle of nowhere, all of a sudden there appeared an angel of man, I came to know later as Fernando. He spoke very little English but thankfully Mikey could speak fluent Spanish to him. Within a flash, our bikes were loaded in his truck on the way to the local ER.
There we were welcomed with 5-star service and within the space of about three hours I was monitored, cleaned up, X-rayed and diagnosed as having a broken clavicle (which I came to understand is the collarbone).
Although I understand this was a “good break” (which to me sounded like an oxymoron), I am disappointed two weeks later to still have had no communication from my primary care physician’s office as she’s on vacation. On the bright side I came to realize that a plentiful amount of Swizz chocolate does in fact help bones heal best.
Now you might be thinking, “Sad story Paul — but what does this have to do with going the extra mile in the workplace?” Well, I can actually see so many parallels between my accident and what occurs in the workplace every day:
- When one colleague is hurting or struggling it takes another to offer a helping hand — just like Mikey helped me on that great but dreadful day.
- Help can appear from the most remarkable of places. Who can you be a “Fernando” to at work? Can you go out of your way to help someone in need, or do you tend to look away and walk away because it’s not your job? Mikey told me that two people slowed down and just rode on by, before Fernando flew in on the wings of angels.
- You’ve heard it said, “Teamwork makes the dreamwork” and in my case, it really did. I was attended to swiftly by seven individual specialists who each knew their role and did it efficiently and effectively. The doctor was humble, listened well and appeared as one of the team and didn’t seem to lord it over the others. My observation has always been — a workplace team that has clarity of purpose and is led by servant leaders can always outperform the work of a lone genius and their minions.
- Sadly, at my own primary care physician’s office I have seen again the worst examples of a pyramid style of management. My doctor was on vacation and so everything has slowed to a stop. Even though my doctor is part of a large well-known medical practice, no one was able to help me because she is the one. She’s the top of the organizational chart. Trouble is — pyramids are tombs and all is now dormant until the pharaoh returns. Don’t we often see this in many workplaces — no decisions can be made and nothing moves forward until approved by the boss? Conversely, great organizations turn the pyramid upside-down and empower their people to find solutions for their customer… immediately.
I have much to be grateful for as I know this could have been far worse. I’m especially grateful to have been reminded of the above four timeless principles — I just would have preferred the lesson without the pain.
Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia (newleaftd.com). For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected].