You don’t need permission to change the world

Last modified on 20/03/2018

At our hugely successful conference last week one question posed by a delegate resonated with me: if innovation and pushing the boundaries is crucial to improving health and social care, what do individuals need to know to avoid ‘getting into trouble’ and what do professional bodies do to advise and guide members on what they can and can’t do?

The bottom line is: how do dietitians know they have ‘permission’ to create change?

The BDA office is often asked for advice or to guide members on challenges they face, problems with practice, or how to take change forward. Practically, we cannot issue advice on everything as there is so much, and we do not yet know about what the future holds. What we do is encourage discussion, debate and for people to be brave. Being brave is a sign of innovation, leadership, motivation, inspiration, positivity and a healthy dose of confidence. Confidence comes, in turn, from an ability to understand risk and to be able to judge that, where you intend to go, carries acceptable risk.

For many members the greatest perceived risk is having to face the HCPC. Frequently members feel that other unregulated groups have the ability to say or do what they want: because there are no sanctions for them giving the wrong advice or doing the wrong thing. But is there any evidence that anyone showing innovation or bravery had to face the HCPC? I would suggest not at all. Assessing risk, using evidence to create innovation, should be part of everyday life.

Change and innovation only occur when we, as humans, do something new and original. Bravery is part of our DNA. So, we need you to be brave and lead the profession and dietetics into the future. Medical, scientific and cultural advancement never came from retaining the status quo. Pioneers thrive on pushing boundaries and challenging themselves or others. We need pioneers.

I would suggest that you ask yourself this. ‘What is holding me back? Is it my fear of what may happen to me, or is it what others have told me what may happen to me, if I do?’ If others are stopping you, then maybe they are not ready for change. If you are stopping you, then maybe you are listening to others and not yourself?

Just remember Henry Ford: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”. Change can be uncomfortable and this takes bravery. If we look at the pioneers within the profession, those who have created change and innovation, did they ask permission to be brave and change the world? No. They just did it because they knew it to be right. Great pioneers include (amongst many others) Elsie Widdowson, Dame Barbara Clayton and more recently, Mary Turner. I knew Barbara and Mary and they would never have considered asking permission to change what they knew needed changing.

So, please let us help you. Let us help reassure you. We are here to listen and support you. But above all be brave and change the world. You don’t need permission.

Tags: chief exec, News for members

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