1. Alexander, G. Rumay

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According Daniel H. Pink, we think in tenses, and especially so when we think about ourselves. He reminds us in his latest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing (Riverhead Books, 2018), that our language, tinged with time, colors our thoughts deeply. Think about it. "When" decisions can be anxiety provoking as well as time-consuming. Ironically, "when decisions" are about time. Planning a leadership retreat is a "when" decision. Purchasing a house or car can be huge "when" decisions. Booking flights is a "when" decision, as are career and curriculum mapping and even getting a haircut. Decisions about your calendar and scheduling appointments are essentially about timing, and, as with breathing, we are on automatic pilot in making them.

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Continued reading has sensitized me to the number of "when" decisions I make. I have stated on many occasions that timing is everything. Well, maybe it's not everything, but it is a big thing. When we factor timing into whatever we are doing, we intentionally hold back putting an action into play or a recommendation on the table until we believe we have the right conditions. But the right condition is really another way of saying the timing is right.


I seem to have better outcomes and less stressful ones when I give timing its due respect. However, adroit leaders highly consider that some issues can be too time sensitive to conform to the traditional governance structures and skillfully point out the opportunity costs of fear-based decisions labeled and disguised as delayed decisions. Fear, not time, paralyzes action, with the potential to impact whether the best timing has been hit or missed. It is time to question the wisdom of putting off until tomorrow what we can do and should do today.


Academic environments are carefully designed to not allow things to move too quickly, to prevent us from challenging structures that have been in place for decades and moving forward without debate and ultimately reaching consensus. But watching the recent National Basketball Association playoffs gave me some insights we might adopt. The commentators often referenced instances in which a player should have passed the ball to a teammate or gone for a clear shot to the goal. The coaches called for strategic timeouts to communicate to players key adjustments to the game plan. They worked the timing of the last play before halftime and used the clock as a strategy against opponents or, better yet, to make a basket. Watching their strategy was fascinating, and it was hard not to acknowledge their skills. Even time on the bench to rest a player or to allow for a chance to regain comportment was on full display.


When we as educators create inclusive classrooms, curricula, policies, and opportunities for academic progression, we are resourcing the future of nursing. When we give voice to the harm of incivility, regardless of who is the source of delivery and who is the recipient, we are a force to be reckoned with and recognized for honoring the humanity of all those who are like us and those who are not like us. When we insist with persistence on the need for nurses to occupy positions on health care boards or call attention to the fact that nurses are not being allowed to practice to their full capacity, we are increasing access to care and assisting in the making of decisions. When we make time for ourselves and our well-being so that we put on display the best versions of ourselves, the world not only trusts us above all others but the safety of the public is also being held. Our when is now!


Let me add one more important "when" for your consideration. This year's Education Summit is where the National League for Nursing's (NLN) past, present, and future will come together. As we prepare to celebrate our 125 years of providing nursing leadership on September 12 to 14 in Chicago, the when and what of the NLN shall walk alongside each other in full array. We will be using our historic moment to build on the work of our founders, explore innovative strategies to advance excellence in nursing education, strengthen networks and partnerships, and celebrate collective and individual accomplishments. When we come together, we will have a memorable time!

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