Have a Little Faith

Here are this week’s learnings from the front line.

At the Ted talks event I attended, there was a man who represented a Google company called X. They work on developing innovations that may save the world. It makes saving a community GP surgery look puny by comparison, frankly.

One of the things he talked about was a system they use called fail fast.

They have a finite budge and a million things they can do with it. They want to put the money where it can be used most effectively.

At the beginning of each project they undertake, they start with the most difficult thing, and test it to see if breaks. If it does, they move on to the next project. They actively seek out the weak points and prod at them.

I like this.

Many people over the last few weeks have told us that what we are doing is too difficult, that there is no point in tackling it because it will only break. They have said we should go for the easy options.

Well, we’re taking inspiration from X. We are doing the hardest thing first. We are testing everything until the wheels drop off, and then we’re moving to the next thing.

So. We fail fast. We learn. We move on.

We also make mistakes. It is not in people’s nature to make mistakes. They panic. They feel uncomfortable. It is hard to make mistakes, I admit it. But, sometimes, especially when you’re on a steep learning curve, you have to make mistakes to learn. The only problem with mistakes is if you don’t take the learning.

So we try everything. We make mistakes. We own the mistakes. We learn. We move on.

Many people over the last few weeks have been unhappy with what we are doing. There are certain circles where we have well and truly blotted our copy books. As well as not making mistakes, people also don’t like to be unpopular.

Here’s the thing. It’s not a popularity contest. It can feel uncomfortable to upset people, but if you’re not being deliberately malicious or hurtful, and if you’re upsetting people simply because what you’re asking or saying makes them uncomfortable, but what you are asking or saying is important to articulate, then you learn to deal with it.

The last thing I have learned from this week is how important faith is. When I say faith, I don’t mean in a religious sense, although if that works for you, then great. What I mean is that despite all the terrible things you learn, all the awful things you see people do and say to each other, all the mud you see being slung and no matter how dark the situation seems, you have faith that you can change things.

This, I think, is the thing that unsettles people the most. People are very, very quick to try and squash faith and hope. They tell you a thousand reasons why you aren’t going to make a difference, that the system, the problem, the issue is bigger than you, what can you do?

I say that ONLY you can do something to change yourself and your circumstances, and when you realise that, it makes you very powerful indeed.

Once you know that you can choose for yourself what you want your life to be like, it is pretty amazing what you can get done.

When you team up with other people who do the same, who think the same, your power becomes formidable.

There are 169 people on the page that I administer. Of those, only a tiny handful of them are actually patients of our GP. At any one time, only a handful of those 169 are busy on the campaign. We have no budget, we have no leadership because we are a community group, so we work as a team, or sometimes individually and bring what we have done to the table. We are not affiliated to powerful bodies, we do not have or exercise the power to tell each other what to do and none of us are paid for our time.

Despite this, in the last three weeks we have moved mountains, and we have moved them fast.

The only things I can see that we are doing differently from everyone else is failing fast, being open about our mistakes, learning fast, accepting that we will never be invited to the CCG centenary celebrations and having faith.

Of those, faith is the most important. I think it is our super power.

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