Self-care is the New Healthcare

In case you hadn’t noticed, healthcare is a disaster. Most of us experienced an increase in the deductibles we now pay, some by as much as 300%. Many are struggling just to pay healthcare premiums for their families.

It falls more on us, as individuals, to do what we can to stay healthy. Because it is going to become more and more expensive, for some unattainable, to receive treatment we need for health problems when they develop.

Diabetes kills 3.4 million people per year. Diabetes is one of those silent killers. People go to the doctor with a list of symptoms such as fatigue, dry mouth, itchy skin, and extreme thirst. Doctor checks their blood glucose and BAM! Guess what? Here’s some pills, some shots, and don’t forget those wonderful finger sticks!

Same thing with high blood pressure, it is another silent killer. Untreated hypertension puts a person at risk for heart disease and stroke. Over 600,000 people die in the US from heart disease every year.

We’ve got to get better at taking care of ourselves. As a healthcare administrator for 25 years, It never ceases to amaze me how little people know about their own bodies and the disease processes that plague them.

Technology is changing all that. We can now know more than ever about our own health. We can empower ourselves with information that will help us partner with our physicians to make smart healthcare decisions.

I am so excited to be part of this technology of the future. I am helping to pioneer the launch of a tech company that is publicly traded and only been in the United States for nine months. It is going to change the healthcare field as we know it.

This new wearable technology measures the usual steps and calories, like your current wearable, but it does so much more. Imagine wearable technology that shows your blood sugar, EKG, blood pressure, blood alcohol, temperature, blood oxygenation, breath rate, and has an emergency alert system and a built-in mosquito repellant!

You don’t have to imagine because it is here. What’s more, if you have aging parents, like I do, you can monitor those same health parameters for them via your smartphone. So, you are 2,000 miles away and your mother’s blood pressure goes up, you get a notification.

A woman told me yesterday that she noticed her own blood pressure going up, so she took a little break, meditated, and her blood pressure came back down. That is the ultimate self-care!

If you want more info on this amazing product or would like to join the launch team, message me and I can send you some info.

Here’s to a healthier, more empowered world!

Old Friends

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to hook up with my best friend from elementary school. We had been out of touch for easily 20 years. I looked forward to seeing her.

As a child, I had not known that she was badly sexually abused by her father. I knew her father was mean to her and everyone else, but I didn’t know about the sexual abuse. As an adult, I certainly realize now the signs were there.

Now, she had a husband and a daughter the same age as my daughter. I drove two hours to visit with them and spend the night.  It was enjoyable, but I was a little creeped out. Her husband and daughter treated her like she was a complete idiot…and she would just laugh it off. I felt like Goldie Hawn in “The Banger Sisters.”  I wanted to scream at them and tell them, “This woman is awesome!  She is smart!  Stop making fun of her.”  But, I didn’t. It was her business.

As time went on, she wanted to come visit me in the city, but there was always a problem caused by her husband, Dr. XXX (PhD, not MD). Something came up and he couldn’t drive her in or her daughter made plans so she couldn’t come. When she finally did come to see me, I had my elementary school yearbooks for her to see. Her father had thrown hers away while she was at college.  We spent the evening going over yearbooks and memories. Suddenly, things changed. She got on Facebook on my computer and spent the rest of the night messaging our friends from elementary school.  It was weird–I thought, “Maybe her husband doesn’t let her use the computer at home?”

Then, I moved out of the area and lost touch. I texted her a few times with no replies. I assumed she was just busy with her life and would get back in touch when she had time.

I finally checked to see if she was still on Facebook and there she was. But, I had been “unfriended.”  Ugh. This is awkward. I sent her a message, “Hey, how are you…blah, blah, blah.” Just ignoring the unfriending.

I received the following reply:  I’m glad you are well. But I can’t help but feel it’s inappropriate for you to contact me after not even letting me know you were moving.You had my cell number & as much as I reached out to you, trying to develop a stronger friendship, you couldn’t even return the kindness with a short call or text.It really hurt & saddened me.Friendship is so much more than Facebook. I wish you & yours the very best.

Odd. Because I had sent her messages. Then it hit me. The husband. She has married her father. A controlling, manipulative man who makes sure they have only one car so she can’t go anywhere on her own without his permission. Who puts her down so that she has such low self-esteem. Who makes sure they move frequently so she never develops any real friends.

The only regret I have is not being Goldie Hawn that weekend. At least I would have felt I had done my part.

Going Blind

As a child, I suffered an accident that left me blind in my right eye.  I was very young, so the I was unable to express that anything was different with my vision.

The disability was not identified until I was in third grade.  The school did the customary vision tests.  They thought I was faking because I said I couldn’t see anything on the right side when they covered by left eye.  I was sent to an optometrist who verified that I was telling the truth.

Fast forward to age 15, another optometrist identifies that I have a small congenital cataract on my left eye.  It has been growing slowly for 36 years now.

As an adult, I finally realized why sports were so difficult for me–no depth perception.  Can’t see how far away a baseball really is.  Can’t see how far away the basketball goal really is.  I’d spent junior high physical education going through humiliating exercises where I couldn’t go to the dressing room until I made a “basket”–I was always the last one in my class to do so.

I am lucky in that I have a world-renowned optometrist whom I stumbled upon in Kansas City before he became quite so famous.  You can’t get an appointment with him now unless you have an unusual and serious eye disease.  Someday, he will remove the cataract–a surgery that can go wrong and leave me completely blind.

As we age, we tend to lose peripheral vision, but mine has been deteriorating since I was in my 30’s.  At this point, I frequently walk into objects that I cannot see  in my periphery.  I have to increase the font on computer documents so I can identify the 0’s from the 8’s.

I have to consider how I will live my life if I end up blind.  I protect my left eye like the precious thing that it is.  It is hard to imagine what it may be like to never see the faces of my loved ones, never see sunsets, never drive, or be able to read again.

My disability is invisible–there is nothing that looks different about my right eye.   I try not to think about it or talk about it.  But, I sometimes wonder if tomorrow will be the morning that I wake up and the cataract has grown to the point that surgery is emergent.  And what will be the outcome of that surgery-plunged into darkness or restored visual clarity.

Creating Positions for Talented People

I’ve been part of several organizations who “create” new positions at the drop of a hat (some have been for me).  They want to reward loyal or talented employees, sometimes by inflating a job title to make it sound more important and other times to retain (or recapture) an employee.  Is there anything wrong with that?

When a new position is “created” the position needs to be advertised internally so that all qualified candidates have the opportunity to apply.   Failing to do so instills a feeling that there is no opportunity for advancement unless the “right” people notice one’s work.  And just because no one has noticed a person’s strengths and talents yet doesn’t mean they don’t exist–it just means the right circumstances have not presented themselves and/or the supervisor is disinterested, disengaged, or threatened by that individual’s talent.

“Creating” a new position for someone usually happens based on favoritism.  Someone in power and authority really likes the work of a subordinate and creates a new position in order to promote or raise his/her pay.  Many times, what is really happening in this situation is the failure of the person in power and authority to address the performance issue of someone else.  Rather than make room in the existing organizational structure for their high performer by removing an existing poor performer, they create a new position, leading to middle management spread.

A sense of instability can be sensed in organizations when “creating” positions happens too frequently.  Adding positions to organizational structures in an impulsive fashion leads to a feeling of not knowing what to expect.  One thing employees prefer is knowing what to expect, at least in general.

Creating new positions, no matter what the level of talent of an applicant or employee, is just bad human resources practice.  While I appreciate that businesses need to be fluid and seize/retain talent when it is available, organizations need to address the real performance issues while seeking out that talent that already exists in their organizations.  Doing otherwise just leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those who are already part of the organization and drives talent out into the market to work for your competition.

 

 

 

How to Attend a CEU Class

Many of us, as professionals, are required to take a specific number of CEU courses throughout a one or two year period.  As the years go by, attending CEU classes becomes more and more painful, mostly because of the behavior of the other attendees.  So, I thought I’d offer some tips on how to attend a CEU class.

Pre-register:  For those of us who have driven through the wind, rain, or snow in bumper-to-bumper traffic to find ourselves barely on time, nothing is more frustrating than standing in line behind someone who didn’t bother to pre-register.  Really?  Did you just get up this morning and decide you’d drive over to this hotel and see what was going on?  No.  You knew you were coming here, so pre-register.  Save us all the frustration of standing behind you while you ask “who do I make the check out to?”

Stay awake:  Let’s face it, we all get sleepy at times in these classes.  But, show the rest of us courtesy and stand up in the back of the room until you are awake.  Even if you have to stand there all day.  This week, there was a woman who fell so asleep in my CEU class that she scattered her Cheetos all over the carpet.  And she still didn’t wake up.

Snacks:  If you are going to bring snacks into the room, please make them quiet snacks.  Snacks that are quiet to open and quiet to eat.  If the snack is noisy to open, wait until the break.  Your noisy wrapper might just make me miss the one thing I was going to get out of this eight hours or interrupt the meditation I am currently doing.

Are there any questions?:  This is not your opportunity to tell the story that you think is going to make you look absolutely brilliant to the rest of the group.  Trust me, your story isn’t any better than the hundreds of other stories that could be told by the other attendees.  The instructor asked if there are questions; he didn’t open up the floor for your commentary.

After the last break:  You do not have any questions.  You do not have a thing to say.  Because the more you say, the longer it takes us to get this over with.  If you have a burning question, do us all a favor and ask the instructor after the class.

Talking to your neighbor:  Don’t.  Save it for the break.  If the rest of us are trying to hear the instructor, we can’t because you are having a running conversation with the person next to you.  Consider passing notes instead.

Personal Hygiene:  Please attend to your personal hygiene before the class.  When 100 people are stuffed into a room designed to hold 75, it is not time to brush your hair or clip your nails.

Shoes:  Leave them on.  No one has pretty feet.  The end.

 

It all boils down to this:  be considerate of other people.   Not all of us are as chipper and happy to be attending the umpteenth CEU class of our careers.  Or maybe CEU providers could consider offering CEU classes for “long in the tooth” and “newbies” so we would know ahead of time what we are walking into.

 

How to be Successful 100% of the Time

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As leaders, it is incumbent upon us to know our business and to make decisions that, based on our experience, will make our companies more successful.  Whether it is hiring our next manager or developing a new business line, we are supposed to know what we are doing and be successful.  But sometimes, despite our very best analysis, we are not successful in our endeavor.

I have found one area in which every leader can always be 100% successful.  If you look for people to make mistakes, do the wrong thing and generally not live up to your expectations, guess what?  You will always be successful in that area.

As a child, I remember my mother saying something like “she’s a square peg in a round hole.”  Even then, I remember thinking, “Why do all the holes have to be round?”  Ironically, that has become a basis for my leadership mentality over the years.  I think we benefit most by having square pegs, round pegs, triangular pegs, and quadrangular pegs!  Having different kinds of “pegs” in our work environment leads to a diverse set of ideas or as some like to say “thinking outside the box.”

 

I think particularly of one example of a very successful manager with whom I had worked.  She was one of the best I had ever encountered:  efficient, detail-oriented, creative, and intuitive.  I appreciated and cherished these attributes in her and so much more.  After I left, a new Executive Director came along and evidently had the “square peg in a round hole” mentality because, suddenly, this poor business office manager couldn’t do anything right!  She was criticized on a daily basis by her Executive Director.  But the criticism wasn’t based on the actual performance of her job;  it was based more on personality and rumors.  What a shame to lose such a valuable, talented employee because the Executive Director couldn’t let anyone color outside the lines in her coloring book!

Tomorrow is Monday.  I challenge you to go to work, look around, find some square pegs who are in some round holes.  Then, figure out how you can capitalize on their squareness, instead of trying to sand off their edges and make them round.

 

The Man Who Would Have Been Great

I met my friend in undergraduate school.  He was a double major psychology and concert piano and I was a double major psychology and theatre.  It was apparent from the beginning that he was brilliant.

After college, we went our separate ways.  I didn’t see him for about five years until I ran into him while I was working at a psychiatric hospital.  I was working in admissions; he was a program director.  Since we had seen each other, he had earned his Master’s in Clinical Psychology.

Over the next 20 years, we would be great friends in many ways.  I was a support to him as he moved up the career ladder and earned an MBA.  I fixed him up with single friends.  He came to our home for dinner frequently and became the Godfather of my daughter when she was born.

Eventually my friend became the CEO of an influential managed care company.  He was now seriously successful.  Unfortunately, he also began to take himself a little too seriously.  He became critical of everyone around him, including me.  It became clear to me that his personality was changing and he was becoming a bit unstable.  I soon found out that he had a serious addiction to prescription pain killers.  Within just a few years of reaching what he considered to be the pinnacle of his career, my friend was fired from his job, escorted out of the building by the police.  He had become so unstable that he made verbal threats to his subordinates.

I tried to talk to him about his addiction, to explain to him that his behavior was becoming a problem.  He said he didn’t have a problem; it was under control.  When I pointed out that he drooled on a professional colleague while talking with him, my friend said that wasn’t true, even though I was sitting in the next chair and saw the whole thing.

I took the final step of putting an end to our relationship when he stole my son’s prescription pain medicine.  I thought ending the relationship would show him how serious his problem was.  I am not sorry about this, but I never dreamed I would never see him again.

You see, my friend died last summer.  He would have turned 47 tomorrow.

It was painful for me to hear that my friend died of a drug overdose.  I had watched a brilliant man spiral downward and lose everything that he ever wanted because he made the fatal mistake of living a life that kept him from being a transparent person and a transparent leader.  He led a double life and the pressure of keeping his two “selves” compartmentalized dealt him a crushing blow.

As leaders, we owe it to ourselves, our families, our customers, and our employees to be people of integrity.  To have nothing about ourselves that keeps us from being transparent.  If we can’t, then we are morally obligated to step away before we implode and take those around us down with us.

Rest in peace, my friend.  I’m sure your advice to me would be not to write this blog, that it would somehow show weakness on my part.  I’m ok with that.  Because I am transparent about this:  I really miss you on your birthday.