Just over 4 weeks ago I went into an NHS hospital for a hip replacement. I was stunned by the efficient and effective way I was treated, and how quickly I was discharged to go home – 30 hours. What really struck me was that the staff were working together as a team, despite the usual NHS pressures, and I was treated as a human being, not a number.
Has that stayed the standard? Well, not quite – when I went to see Outpatients Physio, the handover and integration were less slick and integrated. After, I felt less comfortable both physically and mentally than I had done. My GP surgery has done a lot to balance that out though, whipping out a couple of undissolved sutures at less than 24 hours notice.
Teamworking is something that makes everyone involved feel better, which directly and indirectly boosts performance. I spend a lot of my time building up team behaviour in the early days of the projects I lead as I know the investment will repay huge dividends.
So why is it that the wreckers and tearers-apart are in the political ascendancy? People are feeling under pressure, for whatever reason, and this forces behaviours towards the extremes of the build up/split apart spectrum.
War is a major pressure, obviously. I’ve just finished reading a reference work on the British invasion of Madagascar during the Second World War, and it revealed to me the huge political impact of individuals’ relationships; Churchill and de Gaulle couldn’t get on together, which led to decades of Anglo-French acrimony after the was was over, and the UK’s delayed entry to the Common Market. Churchill didn’t trust the Vichy regime to stand up to Germany and Japan and stay truly neutral, leading to tragic events like the shelling of the French fleet at Mers el Kebir and the consequent vicious fighting by the Vichy French forces against the UK and its allies.
However, we are not at war, and the UK hasn’t had to fight a war locally within the lifetime of many people. It’s something that others fight and suffer through – we just have to pay taxes to support our forces. The paradox is that the apparently despised EU, with NATO, has reduced the level of military conflict in Europe almost to zero as more states appreciate that membership means stopping fighting their neighbours and minorities.
Are we just bored with peace and prosperity? In 1957, just 12 years after the end of WW2, the PM, Harold Macmillan, had to rally the country and remind them that most people had never had it so good, following 6 years of war that bankrupted the country and 12 years of austerity.
People are often quite bad at comparing where they are now with where they were in the past, and are disillusioned they don’t have everything they could possibly want, when in reality nearly everyone has FAR MORE now than when I was growing up.
According to Oprah Winfrey, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough”
At this time of year, with the awful prospects facing the word from the “votes of hate”, and the very real fighting destroying the lives of so many, please relax for a moment, think of everything you have achieved in your life, and decide whether you can step back from our society’s obsession with accumulating yet more money and possessions and focus on working with people in peace and harmony as teams.
Oh – and stop buying newspapers. They lie to make money, and make you miserable and dissatisfied without any basis. You won’t find anything in the papers praising the NHS!