The Customer is NEVER Right - A Nurse Practitioner's Perspective
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Feel good quotes are everywhere...but embodying them may be unfavorable!

About a week ago, on Facebook, I posted a vivid commercial about being a Nurse Practitioner that was mentioned in the book. The idea for the commercial came up after viewing a as compelling Mercedes Benz commercial also referenced in the book.

The Nurse Practitioner commercial I created is as follows:

I AM A NURSE! A member of a time-honored profession, responsible to care for the sick, promote health, prevent illness and injury, and maintain levels of health for others. Deeds and not words define my practice. I am a quiet professional who conducts himself in a legal, ethical, and moral manner based on principles of honesty and integrity. A professional who continually demonstrates a work ethic that is unmatchable, an uncompromising integrity, a loyalty that is absolute, and a proven record of doing the right thing simply because it makes sense and not for the purpose of securing a place in Heaven. As a Nurse Practitioner it is my responsibility to cultivate my profession and place patients’ reasonable interest ahead of personal convenience, pleasure, profit, or safety without bias, stereotype, or prejudicial compromise. I AM A NURSE!

After reading the commercial in the book a friend commented that she could see me on top of a mountain shouting those words. A comment I appreciated and to which I replied, “Did you see me banging my chest [à la King Kong] when I was done?” After getting such good feedback, and encouragement, from a friend I thought I would post all of them on Facebook, the Nurse Practitioner commercial, the Mercedes Benz commercial and my friend’s comment with my reply. The Facebook page being for advertising the book I also chose to boost the posting, which means paying for the post to be published throughout Facebook. In this case, reaching almost 11,000 paying customers.

Interesting enough, and why I am writing about it, of those 11,000 who viewed the post there was a single comment made. That was one, uno (Spanish), ein (German). And it was a negative one. Imagine that! The comment simply read, “Arrogance…Bad Nurse.” However, I could not tell if the comment was related to the Nurse Practitioner commercial, or that I asked my friend if she cold see me banging my chest at the top of the mountain, or if the comment was regarding the picture below, of King Kong banging on his chest.

Regardless, in an attempt to engage this dissatisfied customer I replied with the following comment. “‘It is not best that we should all think alike; it is a difference of opinion that makes horse races.’ Mark Twain. Having said that, this Facebook page is for promoting the book and you have just contributed to that with your comment and I appreciate it. However, if you read the book you would have learned that most retreat to name-calling when they are not able to debate an issue, that being one of the differences between my confidence and the ignorance of others who call that confidence arrogance.”

Incidentally, I later came across a post on LinkedIn, titled “Yes Men? No Thanks!” by Richard Branson. The same Richard Branson who appeared in the Apple commercial that I referenced in the book as well and posted on Facebook days earlier.

I mention Bronson's article because in the first sentence of his article he made a similar point to the one I did with my reply to the Facebook comment, “It’s nice when people agree, but if everyone thought along the same lines all the time, nothing would ever change.”

To my interest, Branson went on to add a few more lines that caugh my attention, “Independence of thinking should be celebrated and encouraged...The people who really make a difference are often those who don’t quite fit in…The worst culture you can ingrain within a business is an atmosphere of saying yes to everything…Yes men will only ever get so far…A business needs the occasional difficult, oblique, awkward creative person in the mix.”

Adding to my interest, Branson then closed with the following questions, “Do you consider yourself one of those people who goes against the grain and challenges established thinking: How are you treated within your company? If the answer is badly, then why not start your own business?”

After reading Branson's questions, I immediately replied, "I do consider myself someone who goes against the grain and who challenges established thinking. However, none of it is to be difficult and much less to undermine those I work with, or for, but because I know that I am doing the right thing and that does not include being a 'Yes Man'. And after being asked to resign, because of customer complaints, so many times, I would have to say that I been misunderstood and with that been treated poorly. Can I start my own business? Sure. I actually shared with a friend, recently, about starting up a consulting business that opposes the current idiotology [sic] in healthcare, that customer service comes before medical care and the healthcare workers who provide such quality care. A consulting business that puts healthcare workers first, knowing that by doing so, everything else would fall into place. However, do I want to start a business? NO! I simply want to show up to work and do my job of helping others, which sometimes may include challenging others or simply saying, No! But never with malice intent. And at the end of my shift I would go home." That was my reply, as if Branson and I were literally engaged in that conversation.

On another note, but along the same lines, a week, or so, ago we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech 50th anniversary. Juan Williams, an admired journalist I reference in the book and "LIKE" on Facebook, made the following point during a segment on the O’Reilly Factor on Fox News regarding Dr. King’s take on the turn of events today since Dr. King’s speech. “[Courage involves that we talk to our loved ones that challenges them],” Williams said, words I thought smacked the nail right on the head.

Some may not like it, but to their benefit, some need to be challenged, whether customers or loved ones, and to do that takes courage. Because to the contrary, enabling them does not improve their situation but challenging them will. It is likely challenging them may not feel good to them but it very much outweighs the disenchantments and having to support their endless setbacks and consequences just because we don’t want to hurt their feeling by challenging them.

Since joining Facebook and LinkedIn, both with the sole purpose of promoting the book, I have encountered a number of touchy-feely, feel good quotes, like Brandon's article and Williams' words, as the Internet is inundated with them and below I consolidated a handful of those words of encouragement and/or inspiration.

However, I included those words of encouragement and/or inspiration not because I sought them but because they are out there. Thus I ask, if they are out there, then, why is it that when someone embodies those thoughts critics cry it is arrogance when others express their confidence? Mark Twain is known with saying, "Always do right--this will gratify some and astonish the rest." However, those comments seem to have fallen out of merit because today doing the right thing may not be favorable and could even be publicly desecrating.

As for being arrogant, there is nothing exaggerated about knowing who I am and what I am capable of. Unfortunately, and it is sad to mention, but for some reason expressing ones characteristics, behaviors, life milestones or the mention of actions that enable a person to achieve what others view as unachievable irks critics. And although one would believe that laboring to do right at every opportunity would be appreciated by others, if not many, as Twain expressed, that has not been the acknowledgement. Instead, critics characterize that confidence and those attainments, and the accolades that accompany them, as being arrogant and narcissistic.

Yet, I understand why critics would want to avoid "the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society" (Robert F. Kennedy) as carrying those crosses is not easy. Unfortunately, in doing so, those same critics say nothing, do nothing and become nothing. However, I cannot do either and because of that critics express annoyance because it deviates from their norm.

My parents never permitted arrogance at home. Instead, they encouraged us to be confident. Our mother asked us to be humble. Our father told us to walk proud with our heads high and a prominent step that announces our presence. Because of that rearing, critics cause me no bother. Instead, it is critics who lose if they are uncomfortable with me walking proud with my head high and a prominent step that announces my presence. I am simply honoring the advice of my parent by being myself, being real, being unique, being true, being honest and being humble knowing the backlash that comes with it.

Nonetheless, those inspirational words are out there, and, they are inspirational and inspire many. However, I am not one to seek them, for no reason other than my parents provided me with a life worth of inspiration. Now, it is my turn to honor and live every moment of their words and actions with intent to arrive at my grave exhausted without notoriety or fanfare.

With all that said, by no means am I dismissing the words of Branson, Gandhi, Jobs, Kennedy, King, McEntire, Twain, or even Charlie Brown, among many. It just happens that for me, moral courage and confidence are embedded in my DNA, despite Robert F. Kennedy's claims during his Day of Affirmation speech that, "moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence".

However, if, and, when I need words of inspiration beyond the gifts of my parents, I look to the U. S. Army’s NCO Creed which I have adopted as a matter of my daily living and which leads off with the bold sentence, “No one is more professional and I”.

Again, the listed inspirational words were not because I sought them, but were incidental finding, as I try to navigate through Facebook and LinkedIn to promote "The Customer is NEVER Right". However, listing them here was intentional, knowing their actuality is for no reason other than to make us feel good, like horoscopes and fortune cookies. Why? Because, despite Juan Williams’ suggestion, loved ones do not want to be challenged. "LA VERDAD NO PECA PERO INCOMODA" (Truth is not sin but causes discomfort).

And as for work, I stand testament that if your character embodies any of those while at work, you will be sent home with a note pinned to your shirt that reads, “Those may be qualities your references admire about you and that you have received accolades for, however, at work we do not want you to be yourself, and much less, an independent thinker that you would have the courage to challenge others.” On that note, literally, employers do not want to give employees "a place to stand...[as they may] move the world" (Archimedes). Instead, employers simply want “Yes Men” who will follow the herd and whose only aspiration is to make more of the Kool-Aid that everyone is drinking!

Again, Richard Branson's words were inspirational as they “get others to do what needs to be done by providing direction, motivation, and purpose”. Branson, a leader by deeds not words. However, a word of caution to those testing the waters with such courage or to challenge others as Juan Williams suggested. Because to be irreplaceable, as Coco Chanel stated, “one must always be different”. However, being different could cost you a heavy price.

Having said that, by no means am I discouraging others, instead, I am providing advice because "If [my] actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, [than I am] a leader," said John Quincy Adams. Adding to that, "Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars" (Kahlil Gibran). With that said, the experienced are the ones with the best advice.

As for that one comment, “Arrogance…Bad Nurse”, posted on Facebook, I could have followed Mark Twain’s advice, “Never argue with [ignorant] people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience” or "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."

Or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words, “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

Or Mahatma Gandhi’s words, “Many people, especially, ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct, for being you.”

Instead, I chose to quote Twain's more subtle words, “It is not best that we should all think alike; it is a difference of opinion that makes horse races.” I chose to reply as I could not gag the desire to challenge someone knowing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." However, I chose the less confrontational words as I did not want to be beaten by ignorance either.

I realize I am no where near the prestige of the men and women who bent history and in doing so have provided the words of inspiration that many more recite, however, "each of us can work to change a small portion of the events [of our times]" (Robert. F. Kennedy). With that said, I know, if given a place to stand, I will return healthcare back to the only industry dedicated to helping others by doing what is right, not what is easy, because in the end, what we allow is what will continue.

And when healthcare workers are, once again, admired for the world-renown care they provide, and not categorized as second to customer satisfaction scores or casualties of those idiotologies [sic], then I will climb a mountain top to bang on my chest, AGAIN! Not to take credit, but to celebrate the return of healthcare workers to their place, the desire to help others!  

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