What did this year say about you and what you value?
Congruence – one of the principles of empowerment. Well, according to me anyway.
At the start of every year I think about what it is going to be about and who I am going to be in it. And you’ll be seeing some of these reflections at the beginning of next year.
But I think one of the most powerful ways to end a year is to reflect on what that year said about who we are and what we valued.
And the key questions to ask yourself is:
“What would my diary say I valued most?”
It will come as no surprise to any of you who know me that one of the things I value most is empowerment – more specifically, empowering others to empower others!
So as I look back over 2017, I can say with no small amount of satisfaction that I spent much of my professional life on endeavours that empower others to empower others!
Empowering leaders to empower
We delivered the Clinician 2 Manager Acceleration Program online, in Melbourne and at a number of health services across Victoria. People who do this program realise the difference they make, their confidence grows and they develop a mindset, skills and strategies to empower the people they work with.
Empowering consumers and clinicians to transform healthcare
Setting up the Loddon Mallee Regional Clinical Council has occupied a big chunk of my life. I feel so proud of this project and the people I work with. For me this project has been about building a platform to empower clinicians and consumers to design and transform the healthcare system. It draws on everything I have ever done – my public policy work in government, my clinical and management background, and my business and entrepreneurial endeavours (it is a start-up after all!). It is about empowering individuals to bring what they uniquely have to offer to bear in powerful collaborations. It is about removing the status and hierarchy that crushes and diminishes the brilliance in us all.
Designing an empowering industry – medicinal cannabis
Most recently, I have started working with LeafCann – a start up in the start-up industry of medicinal cannabis. What is most compelling to me about this endeavour is that it represents an opportunity to design a genuinely consumer driven industry in healthcare. The laws legalising medicine cannabis have been driven by the consumer movement. Medicinal cannabis as a treatment option provides the opportunity for genuine individualised medicine – where the treatment is tailored to the individual’s unique needs – which places the person in the driver’s seat. I like that.
And I am also excited because this new industry is disruptive on so many different levels. It disrupts the power differentials between consumers and health care providers. It provides a serious alternative to conventional drug therapies that are primarily driven by profits and not people. It is a sustainable approach to healthcare and draws less on the earth’s diminishing resources. I am really excited about being part of this.
Over-powered or over-whelmed!
The thing is that even though everything I did this year in my professional life was completely congruent with what I value and who I am – it was not not necessarily congruent with how I want to be. I was over-whelmed at various times during the year. My professional life encroached on my personal life, my family’s life, and took up time that really should have been spent in these other areas. So while I could say I was congruent in my professional life, this cost my congruency in other parts of my life.
Why did I let this happen?
- Work defines me – When you finally find your passion and strength, and stand in your power, opportunities come to you to express this. You do great work and you make a difference. People notice you and give you more and more opportunities. This is the bright side of self-empowerment. The dark side is that if your sense of self is still defined by how others think of you, the work you do, the money you make and the positions and status you hold, then you will keep saying ‘yes’ to these opportunities until you are over loaded. Just before the tipping point you will stop loving what you are doing, start feeling stressed, and stop performing – and then you tip into poor performance and stress. I wonder if I have been the victim of my own need for approval and to be valued by others? Did I take that project because it was core to what I wanted to achieve – or because it was offered?
- Work reduces stress – To overcome the stress of work, we might start working over the weekend with the belief that “as long as I get this done, clear my emails, write this paper, etc etc ….I’ll feel less stressed about it” – right? I even noticed that there were weekends when I forgot what to do on them if it was not work! Work not only can provide us with our identity is provides us something to fill the gaps in our lives. It stops us from examining too closely why we have gaps in our lives – it stops us from just sitting and thinking, contemplating life.
- Money – And of course we take on more work opportunities to make more money. One thing that gets in the way of being empowered is our over-riding need for more and more money – usually to buy more and more stuff that we need to make us feel better about the more and more time we spend working at jobs we hate to make more and more money! And even though I love the work I do, it is like chocolate, even I get sick of it by around block number 3. It starts feeling more like, well, work, and less like my cause.
I invite you to take some time over Christmas while you are celebrating and enjoying time with the people that really matter most to think about how you spent this year. And ask yourself:
- What difference did I make this year? What can I celebrate
- What would my diary say I valued most?
- Was I congruent in every part of my life?
- If not, why?
For me, and for many of you, this will prompt some serious soul searching and possibly raise some very difficult decisions that need to be made.
So, preparing for the new year, I am wondering, what did this year say about you?