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You Can't Stay Clean on Yesterday's Shower

November 2, 2017

I read and listen to a lot about work cultures, work processes, collaboration and teamwork, and am always intrigued by statements or quotes that relate to life and work and how we go about our daily lives. I heard the statement "You can't stay clean from yesterday's shower" for the first time just the other day while I was watching (and going along with) an exercise video. The narrator’s point was the exercise you did yesterday doesn’t really do you any good or count for today. As I thought about this, I realized it’s true in many facets of what we do every day. Take work for example. Like exercise, the work we did yesterday can certainly lead to what we are going to do today, but it doesn’t take the place of it. Yesterday’s work does reduce the gap between the here and now and what’s possible; however, what we accomplished yesterday is over. It’s now time to start anew. 

More specifically, think about healthcare and the fluidity and variety of it. Yesterday’s work may not even correlate to what we are doing or need to do today. In healthcare, you almost need to be prepared for what you can’t prepare for, because you don’t know what may happen next. We do not work on an assembly line with the ability to forecast tomorrow, next week or next month. There are things happening here no one knows about until you have to deal with it. This scenario really played out at Orlando Health after the shootings at the nightclub in Orlando. They had to figure out how to deal with the media, unexpected visitors, unintended memorials and even an overwhelming amount and variety of donations. This was something for which they had no preparation. However, in healthcare - just like many other businesses - it takes a team to make things work. While we hope to never have to deal with situations like Orlando Health did, there are smaller unanticipated situations that occur virtually every day. And no, we cannot stay clean on yesterday’s shower, but we can certainly learn from it.  

I would also like to take a moment to share an uplifting story I heard a couple weeks ago, and while it could be old news by now with our constant news cycle, I want to share it anyway.

In a suburb of Chicago, there was a teenage boy who would sneak into a recreation center without paying and without a membership, so he could play basketball. The management from the recreation center couldn’t get him to stop or catch him often enough, so they called the police. After the police officer investigated the situation and spoke to all involved, instead of arresting the boy, he bought him a membership to the recreation center. The police officer said it was all just part of the job. He said most officers take their job to help people, not to hurt them.

I wish we heard more stories like this.