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Insights

There is Nothing More We Can Do.

Apr 10, 2020

Insights

There is Nothing More We Can Do.

Apr 10, 2020

Thunder Road score as DNA and human genome

 

For those of you who consider yourselves Bruce Springsteen fans, you’ll understand his incredible ability to create vivid mental pictures of a moment or an idea using his lyrics and music. Bruce is a unique and iconic artist and legend that will long be admired. Along the journey to creating his legacy, he penned a powerful song called “Thunder Road” that exemplifies his ability to impart an image in our minds using his gritty style. In the first verse of Thunder Road, Bruce sings about a person that has gained his deep affection, Mary.

“The screen door slams, Mary's dress waves.
Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays,
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely,
Hey, that's me and I want you only,
Don't turn me home again,
I just can't face myself alone again”

We all interpret art differently. My interpretation of Thunder Road is that the song goes on to describe a story of two people living in the moment. A fleeting, but defining moment that without immediate action or investment in chance and love, would pass he and Mary by; a missed opportunity to live their lives to the fullest, without caution and emotional bias.

When you think about the span of our lives, the thousands of moments that define us, perhaps we’ve each had our Thunder Road moments and we’ve had to choose to act……or not; to relent or to admit that there is nothing more you can do. Love and affection are just two of the primordial emotions that can set the scene for such a call to urgency and action. Anxiety, fear, anger, and excitement are just a few that complement love in this way, pushing us toward or away from something confusing but compelling.

Perhaps you woke up one morning determined to meet a goal. As the hours in the day passed by, you and your team found yourselves unable to make meaningful progress and the increased feeling of dread set in stronger and stronger until you finally had to admit;

There is nothing more we can do.

Perhaps that presentation or discussion with your boss didn’t go as you had hoped even though you came prepared.

Perhaps an injury put you on the sideline and you missed your big chance.

To be human is to have these moments and in the end, as much as it might seem routine, it is what it is and we say it;

There is nothing more we can do.

For many of us, these words come quite naturally. We have the luxury of taking them for granted; there will be another day to succeed; tomorrow will provide a new opportunity; we’re finished; we did our best; someone else will have to manage or cover the need. This day, this week, simply put;

There is nothing more we can do.

Taken in a different context and with a more somber tone, these words can be much more powerful. Thousands of people say and hear these words each year:

"I’m so sorry, your father was in a motorcycle accident. By the time we got to him, there was nothing more we could do."
"Mary’s frequent loss of consciousness is a result of her brain tumor progression. We can make her comfortable but there is nothing more we can do."

We’ve used these words casually throughout our lives and yet now in this context, we are confronted with an alternate reality of what these words can mean. For Mary, today wasn’t just another day; someone else can’t step up and manage what could or should have been done and yet.

There is nothing more we can do.

Since the beginning of civilization, scientists, doctors, clinicians and other medical professionals have been confronted with these words as it relates to the mental and physical wellness of millions of vulnerable people. These medical professionals, burdened with these words, each with a Mary who they love in their own lives, have fought to defy them. In our proxy, they have taken these words head-on, sitting in laboratories and hospitals tirelessly obsessing over details, often grounded in theory and failure. Some of the greatest medical breakthroughs, doctors and scientists in history were initially doubted and ridiculed before realizing some semblance of scientific truth, all the while pushing us closer to a Thunder Road full of fear, love, anger, and excitement. Countless moments where the stakes were as high as they could be, literal lives on the line, and they chose to be present; to take a position of responsibility; a position of action; and to do more despite the odds.

Equally human in our nature is to ask, “What part do we play in taking on these words? Are we already playing a part and giving everything necessary? Can we play a deeper part and for whom, for what? Will our individual and collective legacies be defined by the strength, empathy, commitment and action that comes from relenting when our Thunder Road moment presents itself?”

As we look forward, the opportunity to do something more sits squarely in front of us. Never has there been a time in our profession, in our neighborhoods, in our world, where the need for human connectivity is more apparent; where we could make more of a difference; where obsessing a bit more over the details could accomplish much more than “nothing more.” Our collective expertise, commitment, and investment can be our legacy, put to work to bring new therapies to the clinic and ultimately to Mary.

Now, perhaps you are sitting at your desk (or home office) not seeing the connection or importance between what you do and accomplishing something so profound as saving lives. I urge you to make the connection. Your legacy, your Thunder Road, might very well be on your desk dictating a deadline or realizing an idea and making it possible to move the dial on this incredibly humble and fulfilling profession of service.


Akin to the last 30 years, in the year 2020, myself and a team of nearly 1,400 strong at IPS locations and job sites all over the world are and will be commissioned by a few hundred pharmaceutical companies pursuing and manufacturing cell and gene therapies, vaccines, therapeutic proteins and other medicinal products and devices. We will assist them in conceiving, designing, constructing, and validating new facilities to develop and produce previously unimaginable science. In the halls, in the conference rooms, at the desks, on the job sites and in their homes, each member of our team is reminded of the role that we play in supporting these medical breakthroughs. Tough days are part of our job description – the hardest thing and the right thing are often the same. We will innovate until it hurts, despite the odds, all the while embracing the realization that the reward for pursuing the right thing and doing more is the opportunity to see another day where we can do it again; that acting when our Thunder Road moment presents itself is an obligation and that there is always something more we can do.

"The door is open, but the ride ain't free"

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