Passing on the baton

passing the batonFor any of you who know me today, you might find this hard to believe, but I was often picked for the 4×4 100m relay team at school. OK – I wasn’t the first choice, probably the fourth – but, hey, chosen I was, and I learnt how to pass the baton.

For those of you who have ever run in relay you might remember being taught how purposeful that baton passing on needs to be; a process of firmly slapping the baton into the hands of the recipient, so they know they have got it and they can confidently stretch and run to the end of their leg. As I was often the second or third to run I was both the ‘receiver’ and ‘passer’ of the baton. Being passed the baton as efficiently and effectively as possible with no margins for error is a learnt skill and although my speed might not have always been what they hoped I don’t remember having a problem with baton passing.

So here I am many years later reflecting that now is the time to start to think about my baton passing technique in earnest again but it’s a slightly different race.

I was always ambitious and serious. Even when I was a student nurse, I secretly wanted to be the nursing officer or manager because I believed that way I had more influence over what happened to patients. I was shrewd, I knew that managers wielded the power to make a positive difference. I then went on to make some less orthodox choices, still related to trying to change things, and in many ways that’s how I ended up in informatics, I believed (and still do even more so) that information and technology can help citizens and patients for good.belt and badges

But I find myself at a time in my career when I’m thinking differently about the future, having conversations with friends saying things like ‘I have one big job left in me’, talking in ways I have never spoken before, as if the end is in sight. Sounds dramatic? Feels it too and slightly scary.

Perhaps its natural progression as I gaze forwards to times when I have more time to choose what I do and where I give my time and effort to making a difference in other ways – I don’t mean not working but I do mean working in different ways.

What I know is that this means I need to brush up on baton passing on again. If I hold any knowledge and skills how can I pass them on; how can I baton pass without taking my eye off the forwards race and still keep running as fast as I can?

I have written about eldership before and my thoughts keep coming back to the same thoughts. How can I help the people picking up the race beyond me? How can I make sure we don’t stall and drop any batons?

Supporting and investing in leaders of the future is what I need to do but it’s not always easy.  Broach a conversation about succession planning and people gaze at you as if you are giving up, rolling over and lack ambition – I’m not and I don’t. What I am doing is adjusting my focus, making sure I pass my baton on. Informatics is still hard, the hardest gig I have ever had, in a profession that, in the main, still seems to kick back against it despite predictions that digital is part of the future of health. So I’m focussed on finding the nursing digital leaders who I can pass the baton on to, but it’s a long time since I’ve passed any batons so I may be a bit clumsy at first but I will improve so watch out… I could be passing the baton to you! 😉hand waiting for baton

5 thoughts on “Passing on the baton

  1. Hi, like you, I used to do a lot of baton changing in a previous athletic life, and have also reached an age and stage in my working life where I am having to learn to pass the baton – but its not easy, I remember spending hours training on the athletic track, but at work it has to be done whilst carrying on…. and accepting that others are more than capable of running with the baton….

    Brilliant blog, thank you for sharing.

  2. Yes really thought-provoking Annie I’m at an age where I’m thinking about this too, certainly your career and life priorities change at this stage. One plus I think for you is that you should hopefully find the younger generation more receptive to the potential of digital health – they are the ‘digital natives’ after all. Our team is about 50/50 ‘mature’ folk and graduates and the younger ones seem to soak up ideas and learn incredibly fast, it’s so rewarding to watch them.

  3. Perhaps “Yes” we do need digital leaders in the clinical world, but having spent all my life as a professional in the healthcare industry & a good part in the design (& implementation) of clinical software I have come to realise that perhaps we focus too much on the individual healthcare establishments with their software & not the patients full clinical record.
    IT in the clinical world has fragmented the patient record even more. Yes we have really super information in our hospitals, or GP practices which has help deliver care & understanding to a greater level.
    But still we patients leave with hardly any information to better understand our individual health needs, let alone sharing our clinical details with others there to help with our continued “shared” care.
    As you look at your baton Annie running down the back straight of the running track, take a look at those around you. Perhaps it might be better to hand it on to the runner labelled “Patient” to take your baton forward?

  4. Hi all thank you so much for your comments.
    Specifically TinyTony – the blog was much less about digital and more about legacy. You surely know from my posts and Twitter activity that I am an advocate for patient leadership too. But people need to feel the baton they are passing on and make deliberate attempts to do so, that was more my point really, whatever the subject matter 🙂

  5. An interesting and timely blog, I’ve just had a similar conversation with Mark F – we need to be ready to hand on the baton before we are actually going to pass it on. Knowing when to run alongside and knowing when to let the next person soar is key.

    Of great significance in your blog is that it’s not about giving up, it exactly the opposite it’s about preparation and love of the profession – I’m with you all the way ! Loved the blog.

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