Just over nine years ago, toward the end of August, Jim had a heart attack. I wasn’t home that evening. This was very rare for me, but several girlfriends and I were acknowledging the end of summer with a dinner out. Trying to be present, and in the moment, I turned off the sound to my phone. When it was time for us to head home, I took out my phone to send my standard ‘On my way’ text to Jim, when I saw I had 18 missed text messages. At that time in my life, if I had one or two texts per day, I felt popular, so seeing 18 texts instantly gave me the feeling something was wrong.
As I quickly scrolled through them, I got the gist of the messages quickly. Something was happening with Jim’s heart, he had called an ambulance, the responders had arrived, and due to the miracle of modern technology were linked directly with a cardiologist at the Foothills hospital who were giving instructions on the exact drugs to be delivered. When I read Jim’s text, ‘This is not a heart attack’, I knew immediately that, in fact, it was.
I was able to talk on the phone to Jim as he was put in the ambulance. Once I knew where they were headed with him, I told him I would meet him at the hospital. Jim was at home on the acreage, about a 40-minute drive from the hospital, and I was about 20 minutes away from both home in one direction and the hospital in the other. When I arrived at the hospital, I stood outside on the sidewalk near where the ambulances would arrive. My friends Coralie and Gina stood with me. I wasn’t there long when I heard the wail of a siren. Instinctively, I knew it was Jim who was the patient inside. The lights were flashing, the siren was on, and the vehicle was moving very quickly.
I went inside and was told he had just arrived and would be taken directly upstairs. It would be several more hours before I got any word of Jim’s condition. At about two in the morning, as I waited by myself in a small room on the Cardiac ICU floor, Jim was wheeled past. The kind health practitioners transporting him stopped so I could see him, and they filled me in on his condition. I learned he had indeed had a heart attack and needed quadruple bypass surgery as soon as possible.
If you’re a regular reader, you know by now Jim’s eventual outcome has been excellent. For that reason, I’ll skip all the details of the next weeks. However, one thing Jim told me was that once he was in the ambulance, the attending paramedic told the other who was driving, ‘Once we get off this side road and on to the secondary road, Light ‘Er Up.’
Light ‘Er Up they must have done for they reached the hospital in roughly the same number of minutes it took me.
Ever since then, when I’m in traffic and see or hear an ambulance in which the driver is following the ‘Light ‘er Up’ command, I think back to the night Jim was the patient. I know that as his ambulance sped on its way to the hospital, other drivers must have pulled over to the side of the road to let him pass by. All those drivers were helping the paramedics achieve their goal.
In our society, we have been trained this way. We know we can best help by moving to the side of the road and leaving a clear path for an emergency vehicle to attend to its duties. In those moments it’s as if we are part of the achievement of the goal. We want the paramedics to achieve success. We want them to reach their goal.
People generally want to see others achieve their goals. We love to see people succeed. And yet often, we set goals and keep them to ourselves. I’ve often wondered what goals might actually be able to be achieved if we were willing to ‘Light ‘er Up’. What could happen if we were brave enough to tell others our goal, and then watch in wonder as they helped clear paths for us?
If an ambulance could ‘Light ‘er Up’ and stop entire roads of traffic to get Jim safely to help, and if Kaitlyn could ‘Light ‘er Up’ to create the perfect room for Ben, then perhaps the rest of us too can use this magic phrase for our goals. We need to be careful though. ‘Light er Up’ tells others we mean business; it means we are coming through. When we say it, we should be ready to watch with wonder as others spring into action to help us.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What goal is calling me to ‘Light ‘er Up’?
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. She has particular expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations. Contact Elizabeth to learn to set goals worthy of ‘Lighting ‘er Up’.