The power of purpose in pharmacy

 ‘The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.’ –Mark Twain

Almost every person or organisation needs to motivate others to take a specific action. Some want a customer to make a purchase, some are looking for support or a vote, and others want to push the people around them to work harder. 

It is not particularly hard to motivate people to take the action you desire. Tempting incentives in the form of discounts for customers or financial rewards for your staff are used across many industries to encourage desired behaviour, while the threat of punishment and warnings is often used to discourage undesirable behaviour. In the pharmacy industry, we see such incentives on a daily basis as pharmacies create constant discounts to undercut the pharmacy next door. However, while these incentives entice customers to walk in for a cheaper price, they eat away profit and do not create loyalty between the customer and your pharmacy. They also create an environment where your team is under pressure to sell more volume, which creates more dissatisfaction among your team members.

However, as Simon Sinek writes in Start with Why, ‘Great leaders, in contrast, are able to inspire people to act. Those who are able to inspire give people a sense of purpose or belonging that has little to do with any external incentive or benefit to be gained. Those who truly lead are able to create a following of people who act not because they were swayed, but because they were inspired. For those who are inspired, the motivation to act is deeply personal. They are less likely to be swayed by incentives. Those who are inspired are willing to pay a premium or endure inconvenience, even personal suffering. Those who are able to inspire will create a following of people-supporters, voters, customers, workers-who act for the good of the whole not because they have to, but because they want to.’

Such leaders are rare, especially in the health care industry where I believe they are desperately needed. However, where they exist, staff are fulfilled, customers are loyal and communities are strengthened.

These leaders start by asking a simple question that revolutionises their existence, their pharmacies, and the way they lead. That question is – why am I in pharmacy? 


The looming war between pharmacists and doctors

Quality insight on a rivalry that is starting to get worrying

Doctor's Bag

The looming war between pharmacists and doctors Image:

The war (…) was an unnecessary condition of affairs, and might have been avoided if forbearance and wisdom had been practised on both sides ~ Robert E. Lee

Separating the medication prescribers from the dispensers has merit. One of the advantages is that doctors and pharmacists don’t get tempted to diagnose problems to sell more drugs.

The Australian Pharmacy Guild wants to change this. They prefer pharmacists to do health checks, give advice and perform interventions such as vaccinations – while at the same time selling the solution to the problems they identify.

The Guild’s strategy is marketed as providing better access to patient care, and is apparently based on overwhelming international evidence. Indeed, in some countries pharmacists offer a wider range of services.

I’m not sure it’s always better overseas. One New Zealand doctor seemed very unhappy about pharmacists managing medical problems (and I have heard similar…

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My mum’s final words.

Pharmacy has an immense potential to make change in the world one customer at a time. Rarely does any industry have the capability to support people’s lives through their most valuable asset, health. Our health is directly linked to our existence as a human species, it is what keeps us alive, without health, people live incredible amounts of pain and agony, a visit to your local hospital is enough to witness some heart wrenching people living with some of the most painful diseases.

When I was five years old my mother passed away from illness. Dad re-married the greatest woman in my life, her love for me was motherly and we grew to have the greatest bond a mother and child could ever have. Her faith in GOD was unbreakable. She was diagnosed with breast cancer  that eventually metastasised to her bone and liver. Bone cancer is one of the most crushing pains any human can endure. Watching her health deteriorate broke my heart and even though she would always smile, I knew deep inside that I would do anything to alleviate her pain and suffering. As I lay by her bedside, drawing her last breath, flashes of the 35 years of living with the most caring woman who selflessly raised me ravaged through my mind. Her final words were  “Have faith in GOD and take care of your step children as though they are your own flesh and blood”. Her compassion and empathy were angelic. If only there was a cure to keep her with me, tears rolling down my chheks I can barely see what I am writing(::

You see, her purpose was to raise children as though they were her own, so that we can learn how to care for others when it is our turn. She was a great teacher and I miss you ever so deeply my dear mums. 

My dear friends, pharmacy is the heart of a healthy community, finding your calling, the reason why you do what you do, your ultimate purpose within an industry that has such an influential role in people’s lives is meaningful and fulfilling. 

Many pharmacists and their teams unconsciously spread their purpose to touch people’s lives in one way or another, I urge you to identify it, write it down and show it to the your family, team, customers and community. Live by it and consciously allow it to flourish in the hearts and minds of those you touch. A higher purpose creates a culture that amplifies human flourishing.

Purpose is a passage to higher performance and even though it is not everything in any business, it outshines everything else and casts its light on all other aspects within any business such as leadership, teams, customers, marketing and sales. By using a strong sense of purpose as your beacon, it will help guide all your decisions and create an aura that enhances you in a fulfilling and passionate way that infiltrates into your team and allows them to perform as though the pharmacy is their own, this remarkable culture creates bonds between you, your team and your customers that are ever lasting. 

My purpose is to help create a health care industry that interacts with compassion and trust, so that each individual life is valued.

What’s your purpose… please share it with others so that we can stand shoulder to shoulder to make the world a better place.

With love… Mouhamad