The Healthcare Lizards

Healthcare Is Full Of Lizards

You read the headline correctly.

Healthcare is full of lizards.

Not the cold blooded amphibian type that slither and scamper around the ground. I am talking about the 2 legged, warm blooded type of lizards, the humans working in the hospitals.

Bare with me for a moment.

All of us have a lizard brain. It is that evolutionary portion of the brain called the amygdala. The amygdala is responsible for the flight or fight response. The portion of the brain that focuses on eating, reproduction, and safety.

Over the past few weeks as I was traveling and talking to hospital executives, I heard a lot of discussion on how people are waiting, or needing more data, or cannot do something.

At one point I asked a Hospital CEO the following question,

“Do you want to be like everyone else, paid the same, and part of the middle or do you want to be a market leader, get preferential status, and a premium revenue stream?”

Of course the response was they want the latter of the two options.

Yet the lizard brain is preventing them, their team, and the rest of the organization to move forward due to fear. The fear of not having all the information, the fear of maybe being wrong, and the fear of doing the work and not getting the reward. The fear of doing the work, being on the hook, and stepping up to take responsibility.

The preference is to let someone else do the work.

To ride the wave, be happy with being in the middle, getting a guarantee, and feeling good about getting something rather than nothing.

Steven Pressfield (author of War of Art) calls it the “resistance.” The critic that talks in our ear and tells us to stop. To stop short before doing something extraordinary, and just be satisfied with being extra ordinary.

Healthcare is full of lizards. Healthcare is full of mediocrity.

Remember it is a choice.

A choice at the N of 1.

As always you can feel free to email me at or follow me on Twitter @cancergeek



3 responses to “The Healthcare Lizards

  1. But Lizards are so cute and they eat bugs 🙂

    Great analysis. It’s interesting to consider what keeps someone from being extraordinary. I’ve found that laziness is the number one challenge. We all “appear” to be busy, but we just do that to satisfy our brains that we’re working hard when in fact we’re just justifying our laziness. Related to lazy is apathy. It’s a challenge that I think we all battle to varying degrees.

  2. I would take it one step further John and say that it is fear. We keep ourselves “busy” because then we do not actually have to be responsible for something that may be remarkable, add value, or create real change. Difference between talking about #gsd or actuallt #gsd.

  3. Nice post. This challenge, to be the first, to take a risk, to operate in a new way is present not only in healthcare institutions, but also in Industry. It can be so difficult to move from an automatic knees jerk reaction of “no” to, “tell me more. How would we accomplish that?” I have visions that one day Industry will get there. Seems to be happening slowly some places, but the faster the better for patients and all involved with Healthcare.

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