525,600 Minutes: Reflections on My First Year as CEO

525,600 Minutes: Reflections on My First Year as CEO

By Steve Smith

How do we take stock of the past 525,600 minutes or a year like the one we’ve just experienced?

According to the song, Seasons of Love from the musical Rent, key metrics include

  • Appreciating every daylight, sunset, and midnight
  • Acknowledging the inches and miles traveled
  • Embracing laughter and strife along the way.

Interestingly, yet not surprising, there is no mention of time allocations, email responses, or the completed number of video conference calls. Of course, none of these were relevant nor the focus of Jonathon Larson’s modern opera featuring young artists and a community struggling with life, work, race, relationships, and the impact of HIV/AIDS.

And yet, these simple aspects of life remain just as important and appreciated today.

As I complete my first year in the 911 CEO role, I have been reflecting on the challenges and changes that define the past 525,600 minutes. It was indeed a year filled with disruption and difficulty but also much joy and success.

I recently rediscovered some notes in my work journal from an AAHPM virtual leadership program I listened to while recovering from COVID. I thought it was intriguing to revisit these thoughts that I have since titled, “Things I Rediscovered over the past Year.”

  • Obstacles provide challenges that can be reduced, removed, or overcome.
  • Knowing your strengths and those of others is always important.
  • There is often a silver lining — you just cannot see it until later.
  • Hope is not a strategy, but people need it and expect it from leaders.
  • In times of uncertainty, increased communication and connection is essential.
  • Some of the best leadership lessons are fundamental principles of palliative care:
    • Listening to learn
    • Meeting people where they are
    • Working as a team
    • Managing symptoms while seeking to understand and treat the root cause
    • Acknowledging grief, suffering, and loss
    • Transitioning carefully, thoughtfully, and thoroughly
    • Expressing gratitude generously and often

I want to express how privileged I feel to be in this role. I am thankful for the support, patience, and candor from my colleagues within 911 and those in the association world. They have provided me with the strength, encouragement, and trust needed to lead during these unprecedent times and I look forward to the year ahead together.

Steve Smith is the CEO of 911.

Be the first to know about the latest articles, news, and events from 911. Sign up for our emails!