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Can pharmacists find joy in the day-to-day grind?

Jason Chenard

Pharmacy leaders show up and enjoy the grind.

Into his late 70s my grandfather lived in a rural Northern Ontario farming region. It was the kind of quiet, isolated area accessible only by dirt road. If you arrived anytime between sunrise and suppertime, you would find my grandfather in coveralls with dirt under his fingernails in the garage, the yard, the garden or in the bush with his chainsaw, tractor and trailer. His younger career days were spent earning a mining labourer’s wage. Simply put, he was a grinder. He was not afraid of hard work. In fact, he welcomed it. He took pride in slugging his way through a project that others found intimidating. He never let others’ opinions affect his outlook and actually got a kick out of hearing people question his make-work projects that would traditionally be done by machines.

He built his house by hand, with real two inch by four-inch oil-stained planks and dug the hole for the sewage tank himself. This hole was 24 feet long, 12 feet wide and 6 feet deep. He joked that he was digging a family plot. The dig took him six days and one spade. He used a square shovel to make the edges as clean as a cardboard box. When the engineer brought the empty sewage tank over for insertion, he commented that there were no backhoe tracks leading to the hole. He also asked why there was no nearby mound from the dirt that had been removed. Loving every minute of it, my grandfather told him he had a good wheelbarrow.

Joy is found in the grind.

Without being able to enunciate it using his Grade 3 education, my grandfather possessed an enormous amount of esoteric grit.  He could grind away at something that was extremely hard work, that offered very little reward… and actually like it. Great leaders are quite the same in their own way.

They are able to show up day in, day out and enjoy the drudge of everyday chores and routines. They find delight in ‘getting it done’ and relish in the task not being what the average person even thinks about. They put up with the tedious tasks of searching for less expensive quotes from paper, toner or blister supplies vendors or track batching rejection and Rx count/hour metrics on spreadsheets in search for 1% improvements.  They study complex, wordy Ministry of Health documents in order to figure out how to get paid better or avoid loss. They repeat the same pharmacy assistant training with the third new person they have added in three years. They analyze workflow at the intake, screening, vaccination and monitoring steps carefully to be able to run a clinic at 12 vaccines per hour instead of just 10. Repeatedly, they are willing to invest short-term energy because they believe in the long-term benefits they might provide.

What exactly is esoteric grit?

Grit is coarse sand. It is abrasive and erodes other objects, slowly grinding them down to lesser bits. It is the combative sandpaper-like friction that most people dread. Unless you are a leader in possession of esoteric grit. Then you enjoy hitting boring base hits instead of looking for a home run, and you don’t really know why.

Courage to persist strongly regardless of how dirty the task allows us to outwork others. Pushing forward, notwithstanding the required sweat, provides an identity of tenacity that we grow to actually enjoy. The effort finds small wins in getting the hard things done by showing up each day and doing things right. For this reason, joy is found in the grind.

In the next article, the danger of night driving (in pandemic times or not).








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