People do not decide to be extraordinary; they decide to accomplish extraordinary things.” Sir Edmund Hillary.
From the podium at Sydney’ s ornate State Theatre, Ko Awatea, director Professor Jonathon Gray welcomed 1500 spirited delegates representing 30 countries to APAC Forum 2016.
Professor Gray compared the complex problems facing healthcare to a once-unclimbed and often deadly Mount Everest.
He then stunned the audience by introducing Peter Hillary, son of the late New Zealand mountaineer and national icon Sir Edmund Hillary, who in 1953 was the first to reach the summit of the Himalayan mountain.
Mr Hillary described the tenacity and preparedness that resulted in his father and Tensing Norgay finally reaching the summit of Everest in 1953, after so many had failed.
“Sometimes you have to be prepared to go a little further and try a little harder. Humanity is all about pushing the parameters,” Mr Hillary said, referring to messages his father had imparted to him as he was growing up.
“Converting aspiration to achievement is what it is all about.” he said.
Returning to the stage, Professor Gray, reminded delegates that it was not that long ago that the then unclimbed Everest was the ultimate challenge.
“And then it was climbed and it has been climbed many times since.”
In another, more local example of achieving what seems impossible, Professor Gray presented a case study of Yendarra School – a previously poor performing, low decile primary school in Otara. With excellent leadership and the cultivation of unity and a shared purpose, the school revolutionised the students’ diet (including eliminating soft drinks), and dramatically improved attendance and performance among students.
Professor Gray said the ultimate challenge facing healthcare is in the provision of Great Care Everywhere.
This is far from being achieved, he noted, and offered sobering statistics to prove it – 42 million people are estimated to be harmed by the healthcare system every year, which equates to 5000 every hour.
The solution, he said, rests with strong leadership.
“Current leadership skills and training are not enough to climb these mountains.”
Professor Gray said great leadership involves selfless cooperation, and a willingness to act to allow others to succeed. He cited those members of the 1953 Everest expedition who set off an hour ahead of the main party, carving out steps in the ice to maximise the chance of Sir Edmund’s success. Also intrinsic to success was the innovative new strategy developed by former British Army officer John Hunt, he said.
Healthcare needs its best leaders to be strategically united in order to tackle its biggest problems, he said, officially launching the Health CLIMB – College of Leadership Innovation Management and Beliefs.
“My diagnosis is that we have a leadership deficit and we need to fix that.”
World Health Climb was subsequently well received during the remaining days at APAC Forum, and preliminary discussions on its function and operation took place at several sessions during the forum.