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Good idea hunting for pharmacists, Part 1

Where were you when you last had a really good idea?

If you are like most people, it was somewhere other than at work. Isn’t that interesting?

Many people will report that they had an idea while they were in the shower or driving their car. Sometimes the ideas come when you are at the gym or out to dinner.

Many years ago, I was a floating pharmacist and I had responsibilities to schedule and provide coverage for more than a dozen stores. This was my first leadership role as a pharmacist outside of leading my store teams and patients. I now had the opportunity to lead dozens of pharmacists and work out schedules to keep families happy and stores open.

I was not a very good leader in those days. 

It seemed like every week I would sit down, look at the openings, vacations and available staff and say something like, “it’s never been this bad before….”

And that was true. Things were getting worse. 

But then one day, I somehow had the afternoon off and I decided I should cut the grass. I was very much challenged with figuring out the schedule for the coming week, but something wonderful happened. As I was riding around on the lawn mower, an idea came to me. And like a cascade of dominos, everything fell into place.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? 

Our brains are quite amazing. I have no idea how to explain it, but they seem to be able process things differently when our hands (or our feet) are busy, but our minds are at rest. 

Understanding that concept, we should look for opportunities to free our hands and feet so that our brains can process and ideate. 

But be warned! If your experience is anything like mine, ideas can leave just as quickly as they arrive. So, have a mechanism to record your ideas. It is one thing to have an idea. It is another to keep hold of it. 

One of the best things that a leader can do is to collect a big bag of ideas. Then, when various challenges come up, you have a deeper well of solutions or possible solutions to draw from.

When I was growing up, my grandfather was a carpenter. He referred to his garage as “the shop.” This is where he kept all of his tools and partially completed projects. He would tell me, “If you have the right tool, any project can be easy. But if you have the wrong tool, any problem can be much harder than it should be.”

I am not a carpenter. I am a pharmacist. Yet, I can see the wisdom he shared with me all those years ago. If we face various problems, and don’t have the right tool (or don’t have very many tools to begin with), things can be very difficult. But if we have the right tool, solving a lot of problems becomes much easier.

So, grab a pad and pencil and take a walk around the block, or perhaps mow your lawn. Do something to get your get your hands and feet busy and allow your mind to wander and wonder. Your next big idea may be closer than you think.

Until next time –

Jesse McCullough, PharmD

Connect with Jesse on LinkedIn



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