For the past two days, I’ve been in a leadership training with fellow leaders at ACMC called Leadership Development Institute (LDI). While we discussed strategies for engaging and empowering our employees and spent a lot of time talking about professional development as leaders, we also talked about something that I wanted to share with you today; something that’s related to our well-being not just in a workplace setting, but in our lives in general. It’s something that we could all stand to hear and start incorporating into our lives as a strategy for attaining true happiness and emotional wellness. This is the idea that we don’t have to be “on” all the time, that we don’t have to have (or appear to have) a perfect day every day. It’s the notion that it’s ok –and even very important– to acknowledge that sometimes we wake up, and we’re not in the mood to say “good morning” to every person we see, or even in the mood to go to work at all.
Dr. Joe Walker from John George Psychiatric Pavillion presented this idea in a talk he gave yesterday afternoon, and it was one of my favorites of this quarter’s LDI. He encouraged us as leaders to give ourselves permission to acknowledge when we have a day like the one I described above, and to find our own unique ways to come out ahead of a less than perfect mood or situation.
A number of people in the room shared examples of how they get through the tough days on the job and how they are able to wake up the next morning and do it all again. Some offered that they practiced meditation once or even twice a day to center themselves and give themselves perspective. Some shared that they took time to vent their frustrations out loud to themselves or to a trusted friend or coworker to release the feelings and move on with their work. We also heard stories from those who choose to reframe tough situations and turn something frustrating into an opportunity to contribute or learn. All were great methods of coping, and all started with two very important steps.
Step 1: Recognizing the situation for what it is, without judgement of yourself or your own initial thoughts about it. So what does that mean? It means that we can’t properly deal with a situation if we aren’t honest with ourselves about how we feel. It also means that we’re all human, and sometimes we don’t like situations that we have to face, and that doesn’t make us bad people, or bad leaders, or bad employees. It just makes us real.
Step 2: Taking time out to regroup before diving back in. This is a message that has been and will be repeated again and again. We must find ways to step back and take care of ourselves. In a hospital environment, its easy to place all of our focus on taking care of others, forgetting that we can’t give a patient or coworker or family member or project our full attention if we are not ourselves full and complete.
Dr. Walker didn’t suggest that everyone meditate or find a friend to talk to. He suggested that we all find our own unique way of diffusing or coping. He stated that it’s not ok to check out every time we find ourselves “not in the mood,” but instead, to acknowledge it, and then take a moment to find a way to get back on track. This message is applicable in nearly every aspect of life, professionally and personally.
Of everything Dr. Walker shared with us, the most powerful statement he made was this:
“A positive attitude is the authentic metabolism of the bad things that happen to us.”
That statement inspired me to write this blog today. I hope it inspires you too.