Just last week I had the honour of delivering a short personal development workshop to a group of amazing people: 6 wonderful nurses who had just completed their Higher Diploma in Palliative Care with UCC/ Marymount. It was a privilege to be in the company of people who give of themselves, day after day, so unreservedly to the care of other people. Each nurse displayed a fine, open, kindness and strength, I have rarely seen in my 25 years in business and industry. And even though some of them were in their profession for more than 20 years themselves, their eagerness to learn, grow and develop as people and as nurses, in order to give even more and better care to their patients, was truly eye-opening.
I know that nurses frequently get well-deserved praise for the care the public receives gratefully, in hospital and in the community, especially given that there are never enough resources to support them in their work and the conditions that some of them work under can be, and very often are, very difficult indeed. I always wondered though what lay behind their need to continue, to get up in the morning and face the day. Now, after only a few hours in their company, I got an insight into that motivation and it was truly inspiring. Amongst their many qualities, three stood out for me:
Strength– an inner core of strength and resilience that comes with knowing they are living in accordance with their deepest values and even though times are very tough, they keep going because they care and are passionate about what they do. Their purpose is clear and they live life on purpose, without wavering.
Humility – that self-effacing humble bearing, in thought, word and deed, shining out from within. They are sincerely humble even though the work is so very important and influential. The work affects, not only the patients for whom they care, but all who touch them: relatives, friends, colleagues, neighbours: anyone in the life of the patient and anyone in the life of those who touch the patient’s life. It is a very wide circle of influence and the nurses take this influence in their stride, because they know they are doing their very best and it is enough.
Integrity – living their lives with a pure integrity which is not founded on any corporate value list or because their performance appraisal tells them they must, but simply and purely because it is part of who they are; what makes them the person they are and therefore they live and work accordingly. You can trust these nurses fully and completely; and in the area of palliative care, that is a great comfort to the patients and all who love them.
I was inspired by my brief time with 6 nurses, not just by the work they do, but by themselves as people, for their integrity, strength and humility. And isn’t that what leadership is about, inspiring others to follow. We can learn so much from the humblest of people, if only we take the time to take notice.
Anne Marie Crowley, based in Cork, is a free-lance Coach and Trainer in the field of behavioural change for individuals and business.
Anne Marie Crowley is the founder of Crowley Personal and Business Change.