Mid-Air Disaster Avoided: Values win over Litigation!

In an emergency, would do what’s right to help someone or would you do what’s legally acceptable?  I hear you saying, “It depends.”  Well, yes it does. But on what does your choice depend?  What influences your choice?

Here’s a client’s story about that kind of dilemma that had him up-in-the-air, literally, and how his values, what mattered to him, helped him choose.

The Captain’s Voice

airplane“On an international flight from China, the captain’s voice woke us: “Will the doctors on board please press their call buttons?” I looked at my watch. It was the middle of the night.  I automatically reached for the button, and then lowered my hand. If I get sued, I put my family at risk — the litigation will bankrupt us.

I know there are 500 people on the flight. Surely, there are other doctors who can answer the call. The captain called again: “Will any doctors on board please push their call button and make themselves known.” I looked at my watch again. 7 minutes had passed since the first call. I was really struggling with myself. Come on, someone. I am not the only doctor on board!

law gavelWhat do I do? core value street sign

I pressed my call button and went to the flight attendant.

“I’m a doctor.”

I followed her to the business class galley. The person in need was unable to stand unassisted. One of the flight attendants said, “Well, he’s not bleeding. He must not be too bad.”  Fifteen years ago, I would have come down hard on her as I am sure I did on nurses making unqualified assessments. She was ignorant, not ill-intended. She saw what she saw. I saw what I saw —  a guy going downhill quickly, about to go into anaphylactic shock.

The purser already had a syringe in her hand, knowing that if no doctor showed up, she was accountable for injecting something generic into the man that hopefully would help. She gladly handed me the syringe. I inserted an IV, pushed lots of fluids. He stabilized. When we landed, he was put in the hands of the waiting medics.

On the Ground

Back at my corporate desk, answering emails, attending meetings, pushing papers, I heard myself wonder: Is this the right job for me? Is this how I want to use my talents and skills? Does it match my values? Is this how I want to experience my days? Am I satisfied in a way that matters to me?

I recalled that during the incident, as the passenger stabilized, the purser patted me on the back as she said “You’re an angel.” That respect is what I crave. I don’t always get it, or as much as I want, at my corporate desk.  I was happy the guy stabilized, not just for his sake and his health, but for mine, too.

Because of the conversations you and I have had about my values, I’m listening to life and myself differently.  I now know what to listen to when I make important choices.  What’s negotiable and what isn’t. Where to bend and for how long.  I’ve already seen my colleagues look at me with surprise because I’ve stopped flying off the handle because I am less triggered by my hot buttons.

On that plane, life was telling me something. And I was listening. I get it: I am the captain of my work, my career, my life. It’s up to me to. I’m going to stabilize myself and take care of my health.  It’s funny: I’m a doctor who’s going to get healthy and live better by understanding my values.”

Wake-Up Silicon Valley!!   You are the CEO of your career, not your employer!
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PS: Dear Reader: From my vantage point of having worked with hundreds of men and women from different cultures, professions and generations, understanding your values isn’t a luxury, it’s essential for you to make your contributions and live a full and fulfilled life.  This knowledge can help you avoid a mid-air, mid-life, mid-career crisis.




2 thoughts on “Mid-Air Disaster Avoided: Values win over Litigation!”

  1. User Avatar

    Kimberly … thanks for your kind words. and for applying what you learned from our values conversation.

    I’ve been getting more and more requests, from CEO to line folks, to explore values. Especially how to connect the corporate values to the individual in a meaningful way. I’m offering a values course in a few weeks, more info here: http://www.calpt.com/English/Programs/Seminars/Success_Through_Core_Values_SVPTI.html.

    we ignore our values at our own peril … we understand them to our own (and other’s) delight!

  2. User Avatar

    Wonderful reminder of the power of values, Camille! Although lives don’t depend on my decisions, I often find myself confronting smaller tests of my values. Having clarified my values, and defined the behaviors and language aligned and not aligned with those values, I find the choices very clear. My “inner compass” tells me immediately when I’m veering off course!

    Camille, I’ve benefited from your skillful facilitation, and hope others will benefit by registering for your values workshop. Certain to be an opportuity for breakthrough for all!

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