President’s Column: The Power of Possibility

Jun 05, 2018

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One of the most valuable things you’ve taught me this past year is the power of pondering possibility.

No matter the topic — workforce transitions, increasing burnout, healthcare volatility — changing the narrative toward the positive, toward some new possibility, completely transforms the energy in the room. I’ve seen you lean forward into the conversations. You’ve seemed freer to ask questions and explore options. Instead of saying, “Things shouldn’t be this way!” you’ve asked, “What is the future we want to see?” “How can we move in that direction?” “Who can we work with to get there?”

You know what’s been happening, right? You’ve connected your WHY to the work at hand. Guided by WHY, you’ve been creative, relentless architects of the change our patients, our colleagues and our healthcare systems so desperately need.

Many of you have shared your stories about when you’ve been Guided by Why. In all of your stories, WHY was used as a tool for creating possibility. Your WHYs changed the narratives from negativity and defeat to positivity and hope.

Coming from a place of possibility doesn’t always happen easily. Our brains are actually hardwired to respond quickly and strongly to real or perceived threats. By intentionally opening the window of possibility, we physiologically stimulate the positive, optimistic centers in our brains. This allows us to influence rather than surrender, to explore rather than restrict, to create rather than endure. Considering possibility taps into the parts of us that are hopeful and generous, enabling us to use our WHYs to create a world in which we want to live and work.

Exploring possibility doesn’t mean we have to know everything, have the most authority in the room, or be the fastest to come up with a solution. Pausing to think and ask the right questions allows us to ponder new possibilities. This will be critically important when tackling the crucial issues impacting nursing practice and patient safety.

Case in point: The necessary journey to a new reality where appropriate nurse staffing is considered an investment in patient safety will be long and challenging. But, Guided by Why, with relentless focus and true collaboration, we can move toward a future that fully utilizes everything that nurses have to offer patients and families during their most vulnerable times.

In their book, “The Art of Possibility,” Rosamund and Benjamin Zander tell us “in the face of difficulty, we can despair, get angry … or choose possibility.” Today, I challenge each of us to choose possibility and become the architects of a future where everyone thrives. A future where nurses pursue possibility and are Guided by Why.

How do you pursue possibility? Let me know at