I have an aquarium of what I perceive to be fairly contented fish.
There are danios, neon tetras, platys, glass catfish and three angel fish. Oh, and two shrimp who scuttle around the bottom, their frenzied arms sifting through silt and debris.
At feeding-time, which is usually in the morning and then in the evening, I approach them and, as they see movement outside, they swim to the top. Their level of activity increases, they know something is coming.
They aren’t daft.
A sprinkle of organic flakes and they go crazy; flipping, splashing, swiping morsels out of one another’s mouth.
Then, a few minutes later, all calm.
What I wonder, is, what do they make of me?
It is hard not to conceive that they engage in discussion, behind the plants, like a scene from Finding Nemo.
Each one has different personalities that are the product of their genetics as much as their shape and size;
Catfish transparent and philosophical, tetras zany; angels holier than thou.
Am I the great God from Mount Wannahockaloogie? Or a blur, a hazy presence who bestows daily Manna from above?
It is hard to get inside the mind of a two-centimetre tropical fish. Their life experiences so different to mine. Their perceptions altered by the watery environment and fish-eye eyes.
The reason I hit on this, actually relates to their environment.
‘It’s like describing water to a fish.’
That, and I promise to stop going-on about this, was my experience of the world of care quality improvement and innovation.
Offering care or treatment without the potential to do better, differently, with less waste the next time is so core to my approach that they are one.
I may diagnose you with x or treat you with y, but, without the intangible improvement, the next step, the looking ahead to what might be and how we might support growth, it all seems a little futile. Like something a computer could do.
We have evolved over the millennia in order to evolve. It doesn’t stop. If you stop, you’re like another aquatic analogy – a shark that isn’t moving forwards.
QI is the air that I breathe.
It is a manifestation of all that it is to be a doctor or nurse or clinician.
It is the interaction, the therapeutic fix.
My fish, what do they know, beyond bubbles and algae?
Me, what do I know, beyond reimagining the moment?