I Blog For Books

17 March 2009

Measure Twice, Cut Once

Several years ago, one of my favorite television shows was "This Old House." I enjoyed tuning in each week to see what Steve and Norm were reconstructing or creating. They selected historical homes, sometimes in not-so-obvious places, and worked with the homeowners to restore or create a thing of beauty. Norm was the master carpenter on the show, and also had his own show called "New Yankee Workshop." He was an outstanding craftsman, and turned out some of the most beautiful woodwork I have ever seen. He used this phrase often, and even wrote a book with the title: "Measure Twice, Cut Once." (written 17 Oct 2008)

You may be wondering what in the world New England craftsmanship has to do with a nursing student in southern Alabama. I'll be the first to tell you that I am by no stretch of the imagination a carpenter. The most "woodwork" I've probably done in my life involved helping my stepdad and sister erect our privacy fence when we moved to Colorado in 1981.

Norm (master carpenter) was a down-home guy who just 'folksed' his way through the creation of pieces of furniture that were almost works of art. He was a perfectionist, however. He frequently used the phrase "measure twice, cut once", stating that he had learned that from his father. Measuring once, inaccurately, and cutting your wood based on those inaccurate measurements can cause you to lose time, materials, money, and in some cases, even a job. Still wondering what that has to do with me?

I am trying to improve every area of my life. Much like an infant just learning how to walk, I am taking it in steps. Rather than opening my mouth and flying off the handle, I try very hard these days to think before I speak. In my career, I am making every effort to take forward steps, sometimes one at a time, building quality rather than rushing and leaving slipshod work in my wake.

It is impossible to unsay harsh words, nearly impossible (and sometimes impossible) to correct mistakes. We cannot, nor will we ever, be perfect. But we can do our best, apply our everything, and make every effort to put forth quality ... every time. In my chosen field, mistakes can be, and often are, deadly. It is a frightening thought that leaves a little bit of upheaval in the pit of my stomach to think that in the future, there will be times when a patient's life depends on the quality of care that I provide. How can I provide less than my very best?

Jesus, the further I progress, the more I realize that I cannot do this alone. I am provided with supportive family and friends, knowledgeable nurse-instructors and floor nurses, and an ingrained desire to do the best that I am capable of doing. Please continue to guide me and help me to grow into the nurse I am to be. Help me to always "measure twice, cut once".

"For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end."~Psalm 48:14 NIV

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