Persistence, persistence, persistence: 3 thoughts from Steele Memorial Medical Center CEO Jeff Hill

Inspiration can come from a variety of sources, from acquaintances to legendary leaders. Steele Memorial Medical Center CEO Jeff Hill has found motivation through both of these outlets and is continually eager to take on new challenges.

Steele Memorial Medical Center is in Salmon, Idaho, a city approximately 250 miles from Boise. Founded in 1950, it is now an 18-bed critical access hospital situated in the mountains of central Idaho. Mr. Hill has served as CEO since 2010 and was recently named to the Becker's list of "50 rural hospital CEOs to know" in 2015.

Here Mr. Hill talks about challenge, perseverance and Walt Disney's innovative philosophy.

Q: What inspires you?

Jeff Hill: For me personally and professionally, it is challenge and opportunity. One of my favorite quotes is, "The pain of success is only exceeded by the pain of lost opportunity." In our professional lives, when faced with challenges while pursuing opportunities, the pain of realizing those opportunities is only exceeded by the pain of not pursuing those opportunities.

I'm inspired by those who are able to identify opportunities and realize success through creativity and determination.  Individuals who are not intimidated by adversity or the challenges they face also inspire me.

Q: What is one trait of the best boss you've ever had?

JH: While I didn't directly work for him, early in my career, my wife and I rented a home in Colorado that was owned by a successful businessman and real estate developer. His name was Miller Nichols. The first time I met Mr. Nichols, he handed me his business card. Under his name were three words: "Persistence, Persistence, Persistence." It struck me and I've remembered it ever since. His card didn't say he was a developer or businessman or even state the name of his company. At the time I met Mr. Miller, he was retired.  I can imagine that in his younger days he was really a force to be reckoned with.

I would say the one trait is persistence.

Q: What is one word, phrase or idea you think we should use more in healthcare?

JH: Someone once described Walt Disney as saying, "I don't care if you don't like it. Tell me what we can do to make it better." Imagine how our world would change if people responded to challenges and suggestions with an attitude of, "Yes, if..." instead of, "No, because..."

Specific to healthcare, replacing the phrase "No, because" with "yes, if" creates a more productive working environment and enhanced organizational culture. What's key is having an open-mindedness to our challenges and allowing for creative thinking in overcoming those challenges.  "Yes, if" is a positive response that encourages creativity and conveys to those offering suggestions that their ideas are valued versus a "no, because" response, which stifles creativity and devalues others' ideas.

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