A few years ago, I heard a powerful message from Dr. Ed Young, the pastor of Second Baptist Church. He was delivering a sermon that revolved around the toxicity of gossip. He said something that stuck with me, and I even shared it with you here on my blog.
Basically, it was four questions to ask ourselves when we engage in conversations that are tempting and intriguing, but not necessarily in anyone’s best interest. Dr. Young challenged us to ask Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it necessary? Is it kind?
Recently I ran across a variation of this. An acronym that reminds us to T.H.I.N.K. before we speak. Ask is it true, helpful, INSPIRING, necessary or kind? I really like the insertion of the word inspiring. It takes the saying one step further and challenges us to use words in a productive way. To focus on building something, making it better or moving it forward, and to exercise our power to be a positive influence on others. Asking that one question – is it inspiring? – would divert so much of what people say these days.
I’ve found myself thinking about this often. Turn the television to any news program covering politics, and regardless of your position, most of us would agree there’s little being shared that inspires us. More often, viewers are left with a sense of negativity, uncertainty or distrust. Some of what we hear does little more than pique wasted curiosity, and the only thing it inspires is palace intrigue. Is that helpful or necessary?
It’s easy enough to turn off the television, but what about workplace palace intrigue? That tempting, curious interest about who said or did what and an uninformed opinion about why. What does that inspire? The same sense of negativity, uncertainty and distrust. None of us wants to be part of something like that. That’s not our culture. What brings people to Texas Children’s is our shared desire to be better and to do better.
In a large, dynamic organization like ours, there is always movement and change within a workforce of nearly 15,000 staff and employees. Change is natural and inevitable, and it’s actually a really good thing for our organization that often presents us with new opportunities. But if we’re not careful, gossip can distract us from those opportunities.
Be bigger than that. T.H.I.N.K. and stay focused on what really matters to our organization – moving our mission forward. Our patients and families trust us to keep that focus.
I want each of you to click here to print out this acronym – T.H.I.N.K. Keep it some place visible in your work area and at home. Use it as a barometer for your words and a constant reminder of who you are and what we’re doing here. I know we’re surrounded by acronyms, but let’s make T.H.I.N.K. our collective and visible commitment to inspiring good.