A couple of weeks ago, I shared a little about my experience recovering from knee surgery. It has been a little more than two months since my journey began, my progress has been steady, and each day I have less and less pain. Immediately following the surgery, I was diligent in every aspect of my rehabilitation program, because I wanted to keep the swelling down, return to my full range of motion, and be able to walk without pain as soon as possible. Now that I am much more mobile and the swelling is minimal, I admit I have had a tendency to fill the time I should be doing my rehabilitation exercises with other things “I need to do”. After all, my range of motion and flexibility seem “good enough.” But is this really true?
There are many things I will want to do in the future that will require my full recovery from the surgery. Although I am in the process of healing, in the end I want to be in even better condition than I was before. If I don’t stick with my plan of care, my ability to do everything I want to will be limited. This means I must get back to aggressively rehabilitating my knee. In order to do this, I need to take the thought that I’m doing “just good enough” out the picture and settle for nothing short of full recovery of the use of my knee.
When I think about my journey so far, it feels a little like I’ve been running a marathon. At the starting line, I had been pumped and ready to go with my rehabilitation plan, my ambition was high and I was ready to cross the finish line in front of a cheering crowd on my new knee. But as the time passed and the miles accrued, I grew a little tired of doing the work. As I let myself slow down a little, it became tempting to let up even more—but if I were to stop, I’d be short of my destination. Looking back at how far I’ve already traveled, and looking at the little distance I have remaining, I realize I have to push through just a little longer to achieve true functional excellence.
Laurence McKinley Gould has said that “good is the enemy of excellence.” Others have modified the phrase to be, “good enough is the enemy of excellence.” Either way, being “good enough” implies that we are ready to accept some degree of mediocrity. As I think about my knee and rehabilitation in that light, it is clear to me that instead of charging ahead with my aggressive rehabilitation, I have recently chosen to travel the road of mediocrity. However, I know that I want to be on the road to excellence, not mediocrity!
Of course, this motto applies to many things in life, doesn’t it? Sometimes when we have a lot on our plates and we’re working on so many big projects/task, it can be tempting to feel that something is “good enough” so we can check that item off our to-do list and move onto the next task at hand. But if we truly want to achieve real excellence, we have to hang in there, giving it our all until we reach our goal.
At UTMB and in the health care industry, we realize the pace of progress can sometimes feel intense. We’re wrapping up the budget in a new system. Meanwhile, initiatives are underway to improve access and expand services for our patients. We’re building and renovating facilities, redesigning processes, optimizing the Epic EMR, and so much more. We’re even almost done planning our strategy for the coming year. Progress is continual, but every goal we set for ourselves is designed with one ultimate aspiration in mind: to be the best!
Excellent patient care and service starts with us. Our endeavor to be a patient-centered, highly reliable, value-driven organization; the first choice in the region for patients, physicians and employees; an exceptional value to payers and businesses; and a state and national leader in care delivery—well, it’s no small feat.
To be the best, we have to remember our passion for what we’re doing. When we start to feel like we’re doing just “good enough”, that’s when we need to remember why we began the journey. We each have different roles to play in achieving excellence as a health care provider, but whatever our part, whether we’re helping our patients, their families or our colleagues, we want to make a difference. And remember, you ARE making a difference! Don’t forget to look back and see how far we have come as an organization—everyone working together has made outstanding progress. Celebrate milestones. Take the time to recognize those involved who have helped make team accomplishments a reality.
It’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the big picture when you’re in the midst of day-to-day tasks combined with long-term projects. It’s understandable that we may sometimes feel as though we’re in a “just run fast continuously” environment. But keeping the end goal on our radar screen and remembering why we are dedicated to excellence will go a long way towards ensuring we remain inspired to reach the finish line.
“Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical, and expecting more than others think is possible.”
― Ronnie Oldham