I have a new CEO client who used to be a trauma surgeon. We’ve had many conversations about the differences between leading an ER surgery team and leading a business. The other day, he said something that has stayed with me since, so I decided to write about it.

Here’s what he said, ” while I certainly see the leadership differences between the two roles, the most profound difference is with very few exceptions, in business, nobody died.”

In business, no matter how serious the challenge, it is a rare situation where we can’t gain perspective from his words. Sure it matters, and sure we need to give every business challenge our full attention and full effort. And, if we can simply remind ourselves that nobody died, I wonder how that might enhance our ability to resolve issues and address our challenges.

My client told me that one of his last patients was a little girl he could not save. He shared that it turned out one of the nurses in the ER knew her family and shared a photo of her in happy times. He plans to keep that photo on his desk, he said, to remind him that no matter what the stress, no matter what the challenge, nobody died. 

Perhaps we all need to keep her photo in our mind’s eye. 

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