Authors

  1. Laskowski-Jones, Linda MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CCRN, CEN

Article Content

Holiday greetings from Nursing2009!! In this season of giving, most of us somehow carve out time to buy gifts, prepare treats, donate to charities, and spread joy to others. It's in these moments that the collective power of individual acts makes the world a better place. But what about the power of a single individual? Does a person have to be wealthy, especially talented, or a recognized authority to make a real difference?

  
Figure. No caption a... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. No caption available.

Believe it or not, I found the answers to those profound questions at an airport newsstand, in a book called Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations-One School at a Time, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (New York: Viking; 2006). Because many of us make our New Year's resolutions right about now, I offer this editorial as food for thought.

 

Three Cups of Tea is a fabulously inspiring book that can profoundly influence how you see the world and your place within it. It describes the true account of Greg Mortenson's failed attempt to climb K2, the world's second-tallest mountain, and his experience with impoverished villagers from the Karakoram mountains in Pakistan who helped save his life. The story reveals how one driven individual can overcome personal, financial, and political odds to make a difference in a forgotten corner of the world where children learned math by writing with sticks in the dirt. Determined to repay the kindness of the villagers, Mortenson vowed to build a school there-a mission that ultimately changed his life.

 

Did I mention that Mortenson is a nurse?

 

After returning to the United States, Mortenson picked up shifts in trauma units and a burn center. To save money for his mission, he lived out of his car.

 

As a nursing leader, I considered how I'd feel if Greg were my employee and I learned that he was living in a car. How would his coworkers or hospital administrators react? Would we label him as a member of society's fringe, or would we take the time to understand the personal mission behind his unorthodox lifestyle?

 

To paraphrase the wise words of the Korphe village chief quoted in Three Cups of Tea: when you share a first cup of tea with someone you don't know, you're strangers; by the second cup, you're friends; by the third cup, you're family. In this way, one person can change the world, one relationship at a time.

 

Mortenson's story also shows that our only real boundaries are the ones we impose upon ourselves. As you contemplate resolutions for the year ahead, think about adding this book to your personal gift list...it's a rare treasure that illustrates the far-reaching potential of the human spirit.

 

Until next time,

 

Linda Laskowski-Jones, MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CCRN, CEN

  
Figure. No caption a... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. No caption available.

Editor-in-Chief, Nursing2009

 

Vice President, Emergency, Trauma, and Aeromedical Services

 

Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.

 

NursingEditor@wolterskluwer.com