Why I Ceded Control to a Stranger (and how you can get others to do the same)

Tomorrow morning my wife and I head to the hospital in anticipation of a planned c-section for the birth of our second son, Micah.  Because of this, I have been thinking back a lot to a post from a couple years ago, when my first son was born.  Below is the post.

My son, Jedidiah was born in January of 2007. He spent his first 3 weeks in an intensive care unit. The first couple days were very scary. There was a lot of uncertainty regarding the future. Since then he has made a remarkable and full recovery. He is a happy and healthy little boy full of energy with a short attention span (I wonder where he gets that from? Do you like turtles?).

I learned alot during that time. Medical terms, how to sleep for 12 minutes at a time twice a day, how to hold a baby on a respirator and iv’s, lots of interpersonal relationships skills, so on and so forth.

But I also learned something about leadership and the art of influence. In the midst of all that chaos, the doctor never seemed stressed, and still seemed to genuinely care for my son and my family.

As I reflect back on the three weeks in the hospital, I only remember being asked one single question. Everything else was told to me. Not in a pushy forceful way, but in such a way as I understood the unspoken, “It is whats best for your son, I’m the expert.” The doctors and nurses told me what they were doing, what they hoped to accomplish, and why. All of this was not presented as options and price was never even mentioned. (Later when I recieved the bill I nearly had a heart attack, but then heard my son laugh and realized that it didn’t matter.) Budgets were not talked about.

I never questioned the doctors. They said this is what is happening and I believed that they were making the right decision. I trusted them not with an arbitrary decision, but with my son’s life.

The question remains, why? Why would I let a stranger make some of the most important decisions I have ever been faced with? Why would I entrust my son’s life to someone who to this day I still could not tell you his name? And more importantly, why can you not command that same respect from those whom you lead, your clients, even your coworkers?

The answer I believe lies in the doctors demeanor from the moment I first met him. Confident, caring, concerned. I knew he was the expert even though I had no evidence. Some of you are already complaining, but Scott, he’s a doctor I’m just a _______(fill in your career here). But, that misses the point, I never saw his medical degree, I don’t know if he was a resident, a fellow, the chair of the dept, or a nurse practitioner. I know he presented himself as a the one who had the answers; answers I desperatley needed.

So what did I learn from this? I learned that a genuine desire to help people, coupled with a sincere belief that I can help people, along with a dash of ability to help those people, will give me unlimited opportunity to lead, influence, sell, persuade, teach…You should get the idea.