Some Weeks are Better Than Others – Part 2

This week started out with Jake at the vet’s for yet another blood test. Our very dedicated vet is trying to find something that will ease the arthritic pain Jake’s experiencing in his back and hind legs without sending his liver function tests through the roof. I was able to tell her after the first week that it appears that Jake is getting some relief but there is that Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads – what was the impact of the medication on his liver? So this week, we finally got some good news. The new anti-inflammatory medication has had no impact upon Jake’s liver function so he can continue to take it and experience some relief from the arthritic pain in his body. What hasn’t improved is the “funk” that he’s been in off and on since he lost his pack mates, similar to the same thing he showed when his pack mate, Jessie, died from lymphoma. Now I know that there are some folks out there that will think and even perhaps post comments about how I’m humanizing Jake by attributing human emotions to him when he’s just a dog. But no one can explain away how dogs seems to sense when their humans need them the most, why a pup will sleep under the coffin at the funeral home when their owner dies, or when a pup sits on the step with her boy on Father’s Day, and places her paw on her boy’s knee as he cries his heart out over the absence of the father who passed away before the boy’s birth. That dog stayed with her boy until he was ready to face the world again and even attempted to lick the tears from his cheek. So while Jake isn’t human, he’s the latest in a very long and blessed line of extraordinary pups who have blessed my life with unconditional love, attention, and companionship. I know the day is coming sooner than I’d like for Jake to rejoin his pack mates and I’ve promised him that I’ll honor that wish. So for the remainder of this week and hopefully, for many weeks to come, I’ll get to pause in my work and spend several great moments scratching behind Jake’s ears, walking with him, and sitting with him as we watch the bunnies return to their safe haven under our deck. Chalk this week up to being one of the better ones. Enjoy your week, folks. Jake and I certainly plan on doing just that.

Action needed, not just words

I read an Internet article yesterday about the death of a former K-pop singer, Sulli.  My first thought was of her family and friends and the devastating sense of loss they must be feeling.  I wondered how such a talented young woman would come to think that the only solution to her mental anguish was to apparently take her own life.  How is it in today’s world, where we are supposedly so interconnected through social media, that a young person would come to feel so isolated and alone?  It appears to me that far too many people, young and old alike, come to believe that the ultimate solution to their pain becomes their only option.  We, as a society and global community, are diminished by that decision.  How can we turn this around?

For one thing, we need to have meaningful conversations with one another.  That means that the cell phones are put down and face to face conversations take place.  We need to be engaged with one another in discussing the things that matter most in our lives.  Old fashioned eye to eye conversation is needed in order to make that human connection that will mean so much to those involved.

Next, as a society and global community, we need to reassess our priorities.  Today’s technological world has the advantage of social media, but that advantage also carries some significant consequences.  Social media can and often does create an unrealistic standard of what we should look like, what to wear,  what to eat, who we should follow, etc., etc.    What’s missing in that approach?  I think what’s missing is the realization that each of us is unique and individual.  Because of the anonymity of the Internet, some folks believe that gives them license to point out other people’s imperfections, often in demeaning terms.  Instead of insulting one another over real or perceived imperfections, why aren’t we celebrating the fact that despite our individual differences, we humans have the heart and mind to come together as a family, group of friends, neighbors, colleagues, etc.  That coming together to solve common problems is, in my assessment, the avenue we must use in order to stop the sense of isolation which can lead some to believe that the world is better off without them.  Trust me, we aren’t.

Glad to Oblige

I don’t usually write about personal issues but I’m going to make an exception.
This summer I began to experience some serious issues with my left thumb and wrist. For the vast majority of folks on this planet, that would be no big deal. Except – I’m left handed. I’ve learned to do quite a few things with my right hand but when push comes to shove, it’s my left hand – my dominant hand – that I go to. Only now I can’t, at least for a minimum of another 3 – 6 months. I’m being forced to be right handed and I don’t like it! I’m not good at it. It frustrates the heck out of me, and nothing I say or do is going to change things. Surgery is scheduled and the recovery is probably going to raise my frustration level even higher. But I have to be scrupulous in following the instructions of my surgeon and my physical therapist. If I mess this up, I’m going to be in a world of hurt like I’ve never been before.
Probably the vast majority of you all reading this are not facing this specific situation. But you are facing situations that are, in their own right, just as serious and just as troublesome. No amount of fussing, worry, or snapping of our fingers is going to change things. So what’s it going to take?
I think we need to appreciate that we’re experiencing a difficulty. We also need to appreciate that we really can master the situation with some help. Asking for help is very hard for me and the words literally get stuck in my throat. Maybe some of you feel the same way. We’d rather bull ahead and try to do for ourselves just like before, only to find ourselves in more of a pickle than we really can handle right now. I’m learning to recognize that friends and neighbors are a part of my life and they’re there for a reason, just as I’m in their lives for a reason. Relying upon others for help on occasion doesn’t diminish my independence or self sufficiency. It simply means I’m a part of a great circle of treasured friends and neighbors who would very appreciate my letting them help me on occasion. This time, I’m glad to oblige.

AUTO CORRECT

(This posting was rejected for “boosting” by Facebook because according to their policies, it contains political material.  It is presented here verbatim, from the posting made to our Facebook page.  You decide.)

I HATE AUTO-CORRECT. It drives me crazy at times. I’m doing battle with the grammar check for Microsoft©. The latest – telling me I have an error with the phrase, “So do I.” Their correction? I’m supposed to use, “So do me.” Seriously? I hate auto-correct on my phone. It has led to some interesting comments sent from me to family and friends, prompting an immediate second message to correct the first.
When we hear of particularly heinous crimes involving victims, especially children, we sometimes want to have an auto-correct program of our own, to shut out the horrific details of what happened. For example, we saw this with the murders of both James Byrd, Jr., in June 1998 and Matthew Shepard in October 1998. Both murders were particularly gruesome and that gruesomeness was reported in great detail by various media outlets. One outcome of these murders was the passing of the “Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act,” which was signed into federal law in 2009. But because of the extensive detail provided in the media coverage, people sought refuge in shutting out the details so that they were not overwhelmed by the nature of the murderous acts. It’s a natural reaction. We’ve developed an auto-correct system to deal with the news of such horrific crimes. When such crimes come to light, we use our auto-correct defense: The story can’t be as bad as it’s being reported. People just don’t do that to others – or do they?
Unfortunately, people do harm children and others in gruesome and stomach wrenching ways. Those of us who cannot conceive of a time when we’d torture a child or another person, have to realize that when such stories are reported, we need to disconnect our auto-correct defense. We need to focus on doing what we can to insure that those individuals who harm others deliberately and with malice, are isolated from our communities and our societies. We have an obligation to work together to insure that a clear message is sent to those who think nothing of harming others – bad behavior will be punished to the fullest extent of the law, and those who facilitate such behavior will also be held accountable. Truly, we can have no lesser goal.

Empower the Victim

I recently watched a February 2018 Royal Foundation Forum involving Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, and Meghan Markle.  In the forum, as well as in other venues, a spotlight was put on mental health issues within the UK. Good for them!  Their addressing this very important topic will not only help folks in the UK but will, hopefully, also shine the spotlight on mental health issues throughout the world, including the U.S.  I thank them for taking this important first step.

The now Duchess of Sussex mentioned that her focus will be on empowering women.  A good focus, but I ask that she consider broadening her view.  Efforts should made to empower victims of crime, especially victims of sexual assault, molestation, and abuse.  Here in the U.S., earlier this year we had our hearts broken as more than 150 young women and girls bared their souls and described the particularly vile and heinous conduct of Larry Nassar.  Not only did they shine the spotlight on him but they also pointed a relentless light on the conduct of those who had the responsibility to stop him decades before he was finally stopped.

Now imagine if all of us stood with all the victims of crime, young, old and in-between, standing shoulder to shoulder with them as they travel the very difficult journey of not only coping with the harm but also working to reestablish their sense of self, sense of security, and recognizing that they still have value.  Imagine how the young Royals with their “Heads Together” campaign can impact the world’s view of victims as they struggle with episodes of PTSD, thoughts of suicide, and attempting to live a “normal” life as spouse, parent, sibling, etc.  Imagine a campaign where victims of crime are empowered with no judgments made.  Imagine being that shoulder of support and encouragement for someone who so desperately needs to be heard.

What if we really and truly did attempt to do what the Most Reverend Bishop Michael Curry suggested – harness the power of love for one another, especially those within our families and neighborhoods who have lost their love for themselves as a result of being victimized by criminal acts?  Imagine the world we’d have where we help victims find within themselves the strength to effectively regain their sense of self-worth.

But it’s not enough to just imagine.  Now is the time to begin the hard work.  Let’s do it together.

Doing the Ethical Thing

I’m confused – Why is it that one side of an issue thinks it’s acceptable to demand respect while also thinking they don’t have to reciprocate? Why is ethical conduct not required of all parties involved? Where and when did ethics get tossed off the train?
As leaders within our organizations and our communities we have an obligation to practice ethical leadership at all times. More importantly, we have an obligation to follow an ethical approach while engaging in the dialog.
One of the hallmarks of collaborative problem solving is all sides of the issue are given the opportunity to be heard. How else are we going to know what the issues are which frame the problem? More importantly, how else can we determine where the actual problem lies if we shut down one side or another of the issue simply because we don’t want to hear what that side is saying? One of the hardest things about collaborative problem solving is having to listen to a side of an issue which we might personally detest. However, the ethical and responsible adult will put aside personal preferences and engage in active listening – meaning not only looking like we’re being respectful but we actually do respect the other person’s point of view. We don’t have to agree with it, but the ethical thing to do is listen and work to find some point of commonality which can lead to a realistic and lasting solution. Vilifying those we don’t agree with does not advance the discussion, nor does it come across as ethical behavior to call these folks whatever names we want simply because they disagree with us. I don’t know about anyone else but that behavior doesn’t even come close to being ethical conduct. The ethical approach is to respect the differences among the parties involved in the argument and then work together, as mature responsible adults, to find a resolution to the issue.

Implementing Change in Difficult Times

 

Please take a moment to read about the workshop now offered by PSC:

ABSTRACT of WORKSHOP

The hard reality of today is that individuals and organizations of all types are expected to provide better and more detailed services with fewer human and fiscal resources.  When fiscal resources become constrained, agencies naturally move to identify areas for cost savings, and professionals are confronted with the possibility of losing their jobs.  For example, organizations nationwide have been forced to re-design their programs and reduce staff while simultaneously adopting Evidence Based Practices (EBP), or a “doing what works” initiative aimed to maintain or increase the bottom line.  The remaining staff are given extra duties and may experience increased stress, decreased motivation, and reduced performance.  Despite being an almost every day occurrence in personal and professional lives, change also evokes anxiety and stress reactions in those impacted directly or indirectly.  Change, when proposed and implemented, can bring about new workplace conflict or exacerbate conflict already occurring.  All of this can contribute to decreased job performance, health issues among the staff, lower job satisfaction, and higher employee turnover, among other things.

What is the purpose of the proposed workshop for leaders and managers?  It provides an environment which explores ways to implement change while reducing conflict and stress that may enable the organization to implement change while maintaining employee wellness and motivation, thus positively impacting the organization’s bottom line.

In the workshop the participants will be asked to see how change is an everyday occurrence in both their personal and professional lives.  In addition, a goal of this training is to help reduce the stress associated with change and to reduce the potential for workplace conflict by assisting participants in correctly identifying the source of the conflict and developing realistic approaches to resolving it.  In essence, leaders and managers will see how conflict mediation can be used to help reduce stress and anxiety within the workplace.  In the discussions the participants will seek a greater understanding of what conflict mediation approaches might best suit their personal leadership or management style.

Participants will engage in discussions concerning the importance of effective communication.  Characteristics of effective communicators will be shared and participants will be encouraged to practice the techniques to enhance their conflict mediation skills while also developing realistic implementation programs for change.

Principles of effective change management will be presented, along with discussions on how to incorporate those skills into personal leadership styles.  Effective implementation of change comes about because leaders are willing to manage the changes, not be managed by them.

The workshop discussion will be guided by the principles of both critical and creative thinking.  These skills will be called upon as we engage in our discussions and activities for this workshop.

The objectives of this workshop are:

  • Describe the stress reaction and its impact upon our personal and professional lives.
  • Determine effective approaches to dealing with workplace conflict.
  • Apply appropriate conflict mediation skills to help resolve conflict.
  • Examine the characteristics of effective communicators.
  • Develop an understanding of some core principles of change management.

Interested:  Contact us to schedule a presentation of this workshop for your organization.

 

Our First Step

A heartfelt thank you to all who have read and shared the recent posts.   Now let’s take our first concrete step toward achieving our goal.

The grass roots movement starts with everyone who has read and shared the posts, talked about them with friends, or have family and friends who are passionate about making this movement a reality joining a meeting near them.  This meeting can be in person, over the phone, via Skype, or whatever means you have to get folks to come together in small groups. This movement already has people who can lead such meetings so please step up!  The focus of the meeting will be to brainstorm and develop 3 – 5 priorities you would like us to focus on.   Notes should be taken of all the ideas on the priorities and the listing forwarded to me.  If at all possible, let’s get our contributions together by the the end of July.

If someone thinks of something they want to see on the list but forgot to mention it in a meeting, send it directly to me.  If you have questions about how to get a meeting organized and creating an agenda, please contact me.  I am a resource for you   The email address is vcswish@gmail.com and direct inquiries are always welcome.

If you reside in the Phoenix, Arizona area, I will be happy to host however many meetings we can to give folks a chance to contribute to the grand list of priorities.  With the help of some very good friends we will compile a master list of all suggestions.  That list will be published in an upcoming post. Your comments on that list will help develop the final list of priorities.

We have to do this.  Our children are depending on us.

A Call to Action

This mother’s day was very poignant in that I got to talk with my son and daughter-in-law, received a delightful gift, and got to share time with some little ones who live near me. The happiness of the day was tempered, however, and I ask you all to please bear with me.

A little over 15 or so months ago I became involved in the lives of three little boys who were rescued from a very abusive and deadly situation. Unfortunately, their three-year old sister did not survive her last abusive episode and her voice has been forever silenced. The physical and emotional scars suffered by her brothers, in particular the two older boys (ages 5 and 4 when they were rescued) continue to pose challenges to them. As we learn more and more about what they needed to do to survive, I marvel at their strength – knowing what I know now I cannot begin to imagine the depth of courage it took for them to take the abuse and continue to survive.  Thrive is a whole different story and all three are struggling to thrive.

A few days prior to Mother’s Day I learned that a dear friend’s extended “family” was enduring an unimaginable, devastating challenge as their two-year old toddler now struggles to survive the abuse he suffered at the hands of a trusted caregiver.

Unfortunately, stories such as these are all too familiar. But they need not be. As leaders within our organizations, our communities, our religious communities, and elsewhere, we have a moral and ethical obligation to stop this madness. Simply shaking our heads as we read or hear about such stories is no longer enough. We have a very effective tool available to us that was signed into law in 2006 – a national registry for convicted child abusers, along the same lines as the sex offender registry. It is codified at 42 United States Code, Section 16990. We have community organizers who do marvelous and wonderful things such as fundraisers and bake sales. Would it be too much to ask that we consider our children, especially those at risk, to be just as important as fundraisers and bake sales? MADD has been such a tremendous organization and a catalyst in getting important legislation passed which has focused the spotlight on drunk drivers. What if we created Mothers Against Child Abuse – MACA or whatever acronym we can come up that is legal and available for use? What if we use this new organization to help focus the spotlight on this issue and bring about even more effective state and federal legislation which is actually enforced?

What if we join forces with all the victim advocates and human services workers who deal with this tragedy daily and tell prosecutors and judges that it is no longer acceptable to hand out slaps on the wrist for child abusers who not only abuse their victim(s) but also cause their death? I certainly know that prosecuting such cases can be difficult for all concerned. But don’t we owe it to the children in our society the same thing we adults cherish – the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? If you don’t agree with me, tell me how you’ll explain to that abused child in the ER suffering from life threatening injuries that he/she isn’t entitled to a future. Someone please tell me how to shut out the sounds of a toddler screaming as the ER staff is working on them. Tell me how to tell a 3-year old little girl that she has no voice simply because an adult tired of having her around.

If you truly want to make a difference in the life of a child, especially those already identified as being at-risk, please join with me to end this tragedy once and for all. Our children deserve better from us.

Another Teachable Moment

What sort of teachable moment can we take away from the last few months and how do we apply it to our organizations and people?   The key I think is to renew our efforts to eliminate political correctness from our organizational cultures and vocabularies.  You all know that I cannot recall any other social movement which has done more to stifle collaborative discussion and problem solving than the intellectual tyranny foisted on us by a very vocal minority.  Nor can I recall a recent social movement which has done more to marginalize individuals.  So how do we move forward?

As leaders within our organizations we owe it to ourselves, our staffs, and our organizations to return respect and compassion to our way of interacting with others.  Obviously, the election results were going to bring about significant change, no matter which candidate won.  Implementing the various changes which will now result will more than likely bring about increased levels of stress and anxiety.  What can we do to reduce the stress and help insure that our staffs know that they are respected and valued members of our organizations?

If we have to practice some form of social movement, let us all think about ways in which we can implement, model, and practice emotional correctness.  Treating others with respect and courtesy tends to lead to something rather amazing.  Getting to know the people we think we do not like, learning that we usually have more things in common than things which are different, makes it a bit more difficult to treat one another with disrespect and hatred.  As the leaders, we can show our staffs that we value each individual, respect the differences which make us unique, and work together to find the best ways of achieving our goals.