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Can pharmacists gain wisdom from the Ancients?

Wisdom is valuable. It helps us process decisions and situations. And wisdom stands the test of time. Today, let’s look at a story of wisdom from the time of the Ancients.

The story goes something like this:

There were two men who are the same in practically every way. In fact, there is just one difference between them. So, we can assume that these two men had similar physical abilities, similar families, and similar potential to produce something of value.

There is a key difference. however. The storyteller notes that the first man decides to build his house on the sand while the second decides to build his house on the rock. The first man is described as foolish while the second is described as wise. This is the only difference noted between the two.

The story goes on and says that a storm came along. This storm destroyed the house built on the sand by the first man. The second man’s home withstood the storm.

Ah, the wisdom from the Ancients. A lesson that was practical then is still practical today.

Now, let’s take a closer look.

Let me ask you a question.

Which if these two men provided greater value?

In the beginning, it may have appeared that there was no difference in value provided. But value was certainly revealed once the storm came along. The value was that the house was able to withstand the storm because of the foundation it was built on.

As leaders, we must consider the foundation that we build our leadership on. Like the men in this ancient story, we have the choice as to where we build. Our leadership GPS can help us build on a solid foundation. 

In my experience, so many leaders model their leadership based on how they have been led. This often yields limited results when there is near limitless opportunity around them. And when the “storm” comes along, their business is in serious jeopardy.

Twenty-five years ago, when I started as an intern, my colleagues and I would compare notes based our internships. One of the things we would often discuss was “how busy” our pharmacies were. This was often discussed in terms of how many prescriptions were filled per unit of time (day/week/month/etc.). What I observed over time was that many of my colleagues would limit themselves once they became licensed to a certain volume.

To be clear, if I was in a store filling 1,000 prescriptions a week, that was where my leadership was comfortable and that was where the store would hover. Maybe a few more, or a few less, but on average, that pharmacy would fill about 1,000 Rx per week.

There was opportunity all around us to provide care for hundreds of additional patients and fill all the more prescriptions for them as well. But this pharmacy was built on a shaky foundation. When the various storms of life come along – expenses go up, support staff are lost, local traffic is disrupted for some reason, revenue was unexpectedly lost, even a literal storm destroying the building – the business could collapse.

As leaders, we must choose to deliver value to our patients and our team members whenever we can. Ask yourself: What is one way you can add value to someone today?

Until next time -

Jesse McCullough, PharmD

Connect with Jesse on LinkedIn


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