“Let’s be clear: during your career you WILL kill someone in the field.”
When my Paramedic Instructor said it, the whole class went silent. And this wasn’t an easy crowd to silence. Between our small class we had 2-3 decades of field service as front line ambulance EMTs and fire fighters. We were trained to be prepared for anything and everything, especially the unexpected. But I WASN”T ready to be told that my care would END someone’s life when the opposite intention was the goal.
It would happen through our action, or our inaction. We would give the wrong medication, or the right medication but the wrong dosage. We would apply a skill or tool at the wrong time or in the wrong way that would further compromise our already compromised patient. Or worse, he said, we’d fail to take decisive action when it was called for. We’d fail to start an IV in the neck of a crashing patient because we were afraid of hurting them further, or we’d fail to sedate a patient to provide an airway before theirs closed down due to a medical or traumatic event. The true crime is FAILING TO TAKE ACTION when action is what is called for.
He did not deliver this edict to scare us. He did it to encourage us. It was our job to do our best on every call, and learn from our mistakes. Emergency Medicine is like everything else in life, some days go great, and others go badly. Observe conditions, decide whether to take action, and then do so decisively. Our greatest lessons were not the heroic tales of lives saved, but sometimes the painful lessons learned when things don’t go as planned.
Nothing kills entrepreneurs faster than two things:
1. Failure to Act
2. Getting stopped when you fail after acting
It is our job to act. When we act we do so to take our message and our gift to the world. How your specific gift will take root no one knows. It will take action, failure and action again to determine where you’re idea will take hold. Our ability to take bold action and manage what we learn when we have bad days (or fail miserably) will directly influence the speed at which we’ll grow.
We are called upon to be bold, take chances and be willing to fail. When we fail, it is finding the grace, the forgiveness and the support to stand back up and get back into the game that will be the deciding factor. Not how high can you reach, but how quickly can you get up when you’ve fallen.