Thinking with the heart and acting with the head

For the past month I find myself returning to a March 12, 2009 Boston Globe article written by Kevin Cullen about the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the impact of the economy, of emotions and grace of empathy between people on decision making.  Like many business and people, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, needed to make some budgetary decisions, that would impact the Medical Center employees, namely possible layoffs. The CEO, Paul Levy, as described in the article, used hard data, the financial numbers, the obviously important staff, such as nurses and physicians as well as, “soft” data, observations of the “little things…the transporters… the people who strip sheets… the people who deliver meals” to conclude each is important to the art and science of practicing medicine. And then when the staff gathered in the hospital auditorium, he asked them to consider how they could collectively give up some salaries and benefits to limit or prevent the burden of job loss on the ”lower-wage earners”. In that moment empathy, the grace of connection between people, shown bright, people pulled from their own experiences applauding the notion, as well as, proving options for how to use the collective resources (proposed raises, bonuses, vacation time) for the collective good.  This story makes me smile and provides a reminder how in times when resources seem so very scarce and many of people are in a mental hoarding mode, that sharing some how miraculously increases the value of the resources.

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