Wonderland

Greetings everyone! How are you? Enjoying this beautiful pre-holiday weekend, I hope.  Actually, if you are like me, you were caught in the craziest summer thunderstorm you’ve ever seen.  I’ve never seen a storm come on so quickly, and cause so much destruction.  One minute, I’m driving in the beautiful sunshine, the next I’m dodging downed trees, praying the hail doesn’t cause serious damage to my car.  Looking out the window now, you’d never know how paralyzed we all were just a few short hours ago.  It’s a gloriously sunny evening, with not a cloud in the sky.

I apologize to my loyal readers for failing to write for such a long time.  I was caught up in my other project, The 5 Dollar Day, for all of May and early June. And then spent most of June working my day job, preparing for a large convention in Las Vegas.  And then of course I had to actually attend the event in Las Vegas, which was more physically draining then I ever imagined it would be.  And five days is more time then anyone needs to spend out there.

I’ve actually never been to America’s playground, as Vegas has so eloquently been dubbed.  And quite honestly, I could never go back and be perfectly fine.  It’s just not my scene.  Everything that I am is 100% opposite from the city of Las Vegas.  It’s as if I was Alice, trying to make my way through Wonderland.  Or Dorothy, wide-eyed with the realization that “I’m not in Kansas anymore.”

In actuality, Vegas is not the crazy, party all night city everyone believes it to be.  At least not when your purpose for being there is to work 18-20 hour days, hardly stepping foot outside the mini city that is the Mandalay Bay.

And what I noticed most about Las Vegas is that it caters to the idea that our lives are simply not good enough.  The perpetual message is that we need to escape, and live out some sort of glamorous fantasy of fame, fortune and beauty.  Reality and consequences don’t matter, as what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.  No matter where I looked, be it the bright lights of the slots machines, the countless number of 5-star restaurants, or the extremely well endowed (and scantily clad) wait staff, I found myself longing for reality.

Amidst the “anything goes” mantra that fills the Las Vegas strip, I was treated to a spectacular few moments on the third day of my trip.  My company hosts this convention for about 6,000 people each year, offering educational sessions for our association’s members.  Most of the content features topics in the healthcare finance world, stuff that is way over my head.  But on Monday morning, our general session speaker was Chesley Sullenberger III.  Aka “Sully.”   Aka, the pilot that landed a plane on the Hudson River.

It’s hard for me to even describe what it’s like to be in the presence of this man.  I got to sit in the second row, listening with rapt attention as he spoke to our 5,000 person audience about leadership.  He is such a true hero, and not only because of what he did on that fateful day.  As someone responsible for saving the lives of over 150 people, he could have very easily developed a large-scale ego.  But this is not the case.  He simply stood on stage, a humble man, telling his story. A story that started over 40 years ago, with a man who simply prepared and trained to be the best he could possibly be in his field.  And not as a way to prove that he was better than anyone else, but because he knew that every time he went in the air, he was responsible for the lives of so many others.

The members of the association where I work are leaders in the healthcare finance world.  More specifically, CFOs of hospitals.  And as we head into this troubling time of rising healthcare costs and reform legislation, it’s going to take some serious leadership skills to successfully navigate our way through.  And for Sully, leadership means three things: Compassion, Humanity and Integrity.

I couldn’t help but tear up when I heard that.  Some may say that these are soft skills, not needed, and even looked down upon in the business world.   He was talking to a room full of CFOs, after all. People who traditionally only see the bottom line.  But his message was clear.   We all touch the lives of other people, whether we know it or not.  And we can make a difference.  We can be an example for good.  And we do have the power to lead.

His message is one that I am happy I can share with all of you.  I hope that you remember that you are powerful, and that you do affect the lives of others.  Maybe not so publicly as, say, landing a plane on the Hudson.  But the power is there.

In America’s playground, similar to Alice’s wonderland, it’s amazing that these three words were my biggest takeaway.

 

Compassion, Humanity and Integrity.

 

Qualities I hope I posses, and certainly strive to live by.

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