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The "I spy" principle in pharmacy – what you look for is what you find

“I spy with my little eye something … red!”

Have you ever played this game? I am not really a betting man, but if I were, I feel pretty confident that you probably have played this game once or twice at least. It is a game that my wife and I would often play with our children to pass the time when we were waiting for something or were on a long trip. The game has a way of drawing your focus away towards specific things.

Little did I realize, there is actually an important principle at the heart of this game that is a valuable tool for us as leaders. 

The principle is this: what you look for is what you find. What?

As leaders we have all sorts of things coming at us all the time. And if we are honest with one another, the things coming at us are often not good. Now I am not saying that nothing good ever comes to a pharmacy leader. That simply would not be true. But as leaders, we are often confronted with problems that we must figure out. 

As we enter December, it is not uncommon to look back at the year that was and see what stands out. In a year like this one, there may be a number of things that stand out which you would rather didn’t. 

But don’t forget the principle: what you look for is what you find.

What stands out may or may not be what you should be looking for. Sometimes you just have to look for something.

A man once told me a story to help illustrate this principle. One day, this man called his wife into the room and announced that he was going to walk across the country. His wife didn’t believe him – at first. But he set out on his trip. As you can imagine, walking thousands of miles can become a bit boring. Sure, the first few miles are filled with motivation, optimism and a sense of achievement. However, when you fast forward 50 days and are now hundreds of miles from home and the sun doesn’t always shine, and in fact, sometimes it rains or snows, the motivation and optimism may diminish just a tad. 

So ... how did the big walker keep going?

Why, he played I spy. With himself. He set an alarm on his phone, and whenever the alarm went off, he would look for something beautiful and take a picture of it. No matter the conditions he would find himself in: sun, rain, morning, evening, whatever the conditions, he would find something that beautiful and photograph it. 

Over the course of his walk, he took thousands of pictures. And he developed an understanding that what you look for is what you find.

Over the next few articles, we will wind down this year and prepare for 2022. Part of this process is to look back so we can see the good and the bad that we have come through in the last year. So, like my colleague who walked across the country, let me invite you to set an alarm on your phone each day and when it goes off, identify something good and something not-so-good from this past year and take just a moment to write them down. You might surprise yourself with what you discover.

Until next time -

Jesse McCullough, PharmD

Connect with Jesse on LinkedIn


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