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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Nurses. Want to Succeed? Make sure you're in the right posse!

I met a colleague for dinner last week at a popular Italian restaurant in Pittsburgh. Our waitress, Kathy, was very nice but you could tell she was insecure. Kathy made statements such as, “I’m new here.” “I’m not sure. Oh…ah…let me see.” etc.  It wasn’t so much what she said but how she said it. She didn’t maintain eye contact and kept fidgeting. Noticing her nervousness, my colleague and I were super nice and really tried to encourage her. After all, we all know how uncomfortable it is to be the “new guy”. Then, my colleague complimented Kathy on her hair. Right away, Kathy downplayed the compliment and told us she suffers from low self-esteem; that she never believes anything good about herself.  Wow. How did we go from placing our order to having a “couch conversation”?  That compliment sparked the beginning of a long, in-depth personal conversation with Kathy – a stranger, but a human who needed a bit of encouragement.

The first question I asked was whom she spends her time with. Who was in her “posse”? Do they encourage, support and motivate her or do they criticize, complain and bring her down. Kathy immediately started to cry! Kathy told us that for her entire life, she’s been told she wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, or smart enough to accomplish anything. This negative influence started as a child and continued today with her group of friends – her posse. Kathy told us the people in her posse aren’t successful, don’t have ambition and actually make fun of people who strive for success. Anytime Kathy talked about going to school or wanting a better life, they criticized her. After a while, Kathy gave up and believed they were right.
The second question I asked was would she consider getting a new posse? I told her the key to success is to surround herself with the right people - the right posse.

What’s a posse?
In the old days, a posse was a group of armed men summoned to enforce the law. However, today a posse can be a group of people who you spend the majority of your time with. A posse can be friends, family and/or co-workers. The posse exerts great influence over its members – good or bad. Gangs can be considered posses. So can book or neighborhood clubs, nursing departments, units or committees.

The key to success is to make sure you're in the right posse
Think about where you are right in your career. Are you as successful as you want to be? Are you positive about your future as a nurse? Are you challenged in your career and believe you can succeed?  If you’re not where you want to be, part of the reason might be your posse.Think about the conversations in your posse. Are the conversations more positive or negative? Does your posse celebrate each other’s accomplishments are downplay them? Do the members of your posse go out of their way to support and encourage each other – boost each other up – inspire confidence in each other?
Now, think about yourself as a member of your posse. Do you celebrate the accomplishments of others? Do you go out of your way to support and encourage other posse members? Do you inspire confidence in others? Posses are two-way streets.

If you realize your posse could use a serious makeover, you have two options:
1.     Be a change agent – change the dynamics of your posse by being the role model for good posse behavior.  Deliberately lift people up, inspire others and change negative conversations into positive ones. Over time, the posse could shift from negative to positive.
2.     Get a new posse – period.  Life is too short to spend your time with negative people.

After chatting with the waitress about her posse and her options, she said that she’s been with her posse for so long that it was time to find a new one.  We left her a big tip (money and advice) and she left us with good service, good food, a big hug and a smile on her face.  Good stuff!

Bottom-line:  You are ultimately responsible for your success. In addition to skill development, professional presence and competence, make sure you are surrounding yourself with positive people who believe in your success!

I hope this blog helps you to believe in yourself and that you can be successful

Thanks. Take care and stay connected


Renee is a professional speaker, consultant and career coach. To find out how you can bring Renee to your next nursing event, contact her at


Medical Service said...

Nice post! This blog is very awesome...thanks for the great information.

Renee Thompson said...

Thanks for the comment. I typically blog every Wednesday. Glad you're finding my "stuff" meaningful.


Rose Winslet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Renee Thompson said...

Thanks for the comment Rose. You're so right about how importance changes over time. It's so interesting to look back to see how our priorities change. Family, career, health, etc. All can impact our goals and how we define success.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

Warm regards