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Friday / May 24.
HomemilastwordIt’s Not Over ‘til it’s Over

It’s Not Over ‘til it’s Over

Molly Huddle thought she’d crossed the line to get bronze at the 2015 Beijing World championships. In her mind, she’d just become the first non-African born runner to place in the women’s 10,000 metre race since 2007. An incredible achievement.

Only it wasn’t. As the American athlete threw her arms up in jubilation right before the finish line at 9,999metres, her team mate Emile Infeld leaned in to pip Huddle at the post.

It’s a finish Huddle will have to learn to live with, and in her own words, “It’s going to take a long time to get over it”.

I couldn’t help but reflect on Huddle’s experience in Beijing while doing my time in hospital recently. Having been in for two weeks, I was told I’d need to stay on for another week, and then another. It would have been easy to slide into a depressive state; or fire up and demand to be discharged. But I watched Huddle crumble at the finish line and I reminded myself that, it’s not over ‘til it’s over. When the specialist tells me I’m good to go, that will be the time to pack my bags and head home. Walk early and I might lose all the advantages I’d gained from all the hard work I’d put in and the expertise showered upon me by those incredible medicos at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

It’s a finish Huddle will have to learn to live with, and in her own words, “It’s going to take a long time to get over it

I know this is something all healthcare professionals grapple with. The patient who attends appointments as instructed, is treatment compliant and progressing well… until they get to the point that it all becomes too much effort, or they feel they’re much better when in fact they’re only 90 per cent there. They get complacent, abandon the regimen, and slide back down that slippery slope to ill health… again.

Healthcare professionals are equally vulnerable. With all those long-term patients who diligently report for comprehensive eye tests and always come up trumps, it could be tempting to become complacent. But imagine that one occasion, when pushed for time and confident they’ll be fine… you relax… you don’t expend the extra energy to ask and look hard enough at the slit lamp and the optic nerve head and the retinal imaging… a lot can escalate in two years before you see them again and it could be that one time when there’s a lurking eye disease, ready to slip through unnoticed, leaving you – and most importantly your patient – with a consequence that’s going to take a long time to get over.

It’s the same in business of course. It’s easy to establish our objectives, set out the strategies to get there then start off hard to make it happen. It’s more of a challenge to maintain the momentum. So often you see businesses powering ahead, only to drop back a cog just as they’re gaining the position of strength. Complacency kicks in and the competition takes the lead.

Whichever way you look at it, there’s no room in life for complacency… you’ve just got to stay focussed and committed until the race is run.