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There’s No Glory in the Grind. (Grind Anyway.)

I recently shared news about a significant (to me) achievement – publishing a book* I’ve been working on for a while.

I was stunned at the number of people who congratulated me; it was a lovely surprise. I was also shocked, though, at the number of people who said things like, “I don’t know how you do it all,” “Is there anything you can’t do,” “I’m so impressed with this accomplishment,” and the like.

I don’t mean to downplay the achievement, but really…anyone can do it. Anyone who has enough perseverance and persistence, that is.

Because there were a few days of “glory” – people celebrating the moment with me, which I absolutely love, but there weren’t that many people who were doing the same the 600+ days the project was in the works. Very few people saw the early mornings, late nights, weekends of paper and red pens; the grind of it all wasn’t glorious. It was mundane. And boring. And painful. And stressful.

Yet, it was worth it. Because there is no glory without the grind, and the grind makes the glory-moment pretty spectacular. So much so that it completely took me off-guard with surprise emotions.

There’s no glory in the grind.

Grind, grind anyway.

 

* The book mentioned is Your Guide to Cancer Prevention, which was written by oncology nurses as an extension of care to the general public. 25-50% of all cancers are preventable; see what the evidence says about the strategies and the myths related to modifiable and non-modifiable cancer risk factors. 

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The Organized Life [Part 1]: Reading all the Books You Want to Read with Your Crazy Schedule

In the spirit of transparency, let me first say I have areas of my life that I would never show you. I do not organize people’s lives or homes or workplaces for my living; there are many incredible people (and books) who do that with astounding productivity results (yes, really). This blog series is not about closets or drawers or garages (although I will show you my two types of home medication storage systems in a later post). This series of posts, however, is about the tricks I use to stay on top of my goals and the “little” things that used to drive me crazy that now…well, don’t.

I get asked all the time, “How do you do everything you do?” Well, I have an incredible support system. I’ve also organized several areas of my life. I’ve found systems that work for me, and I use the Seven Habits of Highly Successful People every day. The one I think about the most that I think has helped multiply my efforts in care, work, and life is begin with the end in mind. You can apply it to just about anything to improve the results.

Begin with the end in mind makes you think – really think – about your end results – what you want and how you know you’ll be successful with that one piece. Once you have the ending in mind, you can work backwards to break up the goal into manageable pieces and tasks.

Reading is important to me. And while I’ve been a book lover for a while (more about that in a future post), I have a leader in my life that encourages others often with Charlie “Tremendous” Jones’s quote,

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

 

And, boy, is that true for leaders at all levels. Nurses, I am looking at you, too. The books you read change you. I want to grow each year.

Keep a List

Since we’re responsible for our own personal and professional growth, it is up to us to make it happen, so I keep a running list of books I want to read, and then I either delete them or mark them off my list as I finish them. It sounds easy enough, but I am surprised at how few people actually do this. Ask for recommendations from others and write. them. down.

I previously kept my list electronically – on my phone, but I’ve recently discovered bullet journaling, so I have incorporated pieces of that into my paper calendar. Yes, I am still a paper calendar gal in life (and electronic at work…again, more on that later).

Here’s my 2018 reading list. As I finish a book in this format, I color it in.

 

Yes, it is January 7th, and I’ve already read two books from my list. How?…

Keep A Book Near You

Whether it is hardcopy, electronic, or audio, keep a book near you. It’s amazing how much “down time” you have in your day if you’re mindful of it. Meeting not starting on time? Open your e-book. Commuting to work? Read your hardcopy book on the subway, or listen to your audio book in your car or on the bus. I enjoy running, and I recently learned my audio book app will work simultaneously with my running app! Oh, the joy it brought me to run for 45 minutes while “reading.”

Get a Library Card or Use a Book Subscription Service

Libraries are not antiquated. The possibilities are endless now as most libraries not only have books on-hand but can do interlibrary loans to get books from other libraries. My library also has an e-book and an audio book app. It. Is. Awesome. I don’t have to spend a fortune on books, and I always have reading material on-hand.

There are plenty of book subscription services and apps, as well. Audible, Amazon Kindle Unlimited, and MyBookBox are just a few.

Try Reading Two Books at a Time

If you can keep books straight in your head, have a reading method where you read two books “simultaneously.” Read one as an e-book or audio book in the morning/during the day and another as a hard-copy or e-book in the evenings.

Start as Soon as You Finish 

Because you’ll always have reading content around you, you can pick up a new book as soon as you finish one book. Even if you only read a page or two, go ahead and start the new book.

Don’t Be Afraid to Stop A Book 

Don’t just read to read; read to enjoy and to learn. If a book is not keeping your attention, stop it and start a new book. For those who need a sense of completion, this is easier said than done, so get comfortable with the idea…it’s your reading list, and you can do what you want with it. Don’t waste your time on “bad” books.

 

So, what are you reading that I need to add to my list? (I’m a non-fiction fan.) How do you prioritize reading in your life?

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All Hail the Sky Holders!

Do you ever have those days where everyone around you swears the sky is falling? Maybe it’s you. I’m sure we all know similar people…Every. Thing. Is. A. Major. Issue. And the panic spreads.

There are these amazing people in the world – I have them in my life and I hope they’re in yours, too – that hold up the sky. They may not say it verbally, but they’re likely thinking…No, not today; the sky is not falling today.

They ease the tension. They calm the never-storm. They reset the pace and tone for everyone. It’s beautiful leadership in action. It happens everyday and gets little attention. Next time you see it, honor that sky holder! And yes, Chicken Littles of the world, you can learn this skill.

Who’s your favorite sky holder you want to thank?

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DIY Gratitude Station FTW

I’m a stationery gal…notepads, pens, markers, sticky notes, blank notecards and postcards of all kinds…they make me happy. Words of Affirmation is my work love language…big surprise there, huh? Interestingly, the majority of my team highly values words of affirmation, as well, so one day I thought I’d share my love for all things bright and stationery with my team so everyone could easily write words of thanks and encouragement any time the thought crossed their minds.

And the “Gratitude Station” outside my office was born.

It’s an inexpensive foyer table that brings pops of colors and plenty of pens, markers, stickers, and notecards into arms-reach for any passerby. For added enjoyment, I added an essential oil diffuser, which is non-irritating and doesn’t leave any residue; whether it’s lavender or peppermint – or a mixture of the two – the light scent fills the area (and lingers into my office). I love it, and I love that my team can access the station any time for any reason as much as they’d like.

Here’s the breakdown of the Gratitude Station:

 

And here’s a closer view from the top:

 

I’m thinking of doing a mini-station at home, with stamps, return address labels, and more. What do you think?

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When Work Becomes Family

“Family” by Laurel Harvey via Flickr.com

 

I’m enamored with “healthy work environments,” or HWEs…what makes them, how they form, how they disintegrate, how they change people, and how they impact the ultimate service or good and the financial bottom line. A key definition of HWEs is that they feel like a family.

Pop culture often jokes about “work family” or a “work husband” or a “work wife.” It’s true, though; we spend more time with our work families during the week than our biological families, so work should feel like a family…a functional, healthy family.

Part of being a family is living and working through the “mess” of family. Yes, there are great times, but family is rooted in sticking together through the hard times, the grieving times, the penny-pinching time, the frustrating times, the exasperating times, the tired times, the mundane times. It’s in the vulnerable moments of life  – whether inside our outside of the work environment – that we learn to ask for help, to share the load, to uplift those who feel defeated, to be the listening ear when a vent is needed, to pray together when no other words seem to be enough…to be a family. And just like a family, a work team multiplies joys and divides grief.

As a leader, it is easy to run away from these hard times, to silo “work” and “life.” As I’ve grown in my leadership skills, though, I have learned to press into these moments rather than try to find a way out of them. Because it is in these very moments when trust grows and the beauty of living life – and working alongside others – is realized…and a family is strengthened.

Have you ever worked in a place that felt like family? If so, what moments do you think contributed to that growth?

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A BSN Pinning Speech: Reflecting on Sacred Work

In honor of Labor Day, I was reflecting on my work and callings. As tiring as work can be at times, I cannot ever escape the sacredness of my work. A few months ago I was honored to speak at a colleague’s BSN Pinning Ceremony – Texas A&M University – Central Texas’s first RN-BSN pinning. What a humbling moment! Full of tradition, even after more than a decade since my own pinning, these ceremonies still evoke strong feelings and often a few tears. So what did I muster up to say to these already-nurses who had just completed their baccalaureates in nursing? Much of what I continuously reflect upon as “work.”

——-

Thank you so much. It is my distinct privilege to join you today for this momentous occasion. What an accomplishment. I’ve held by baccalaureate in nursing for 13 years now, and I still remember my pinning like it was yesterday. I remember the joy of upcoming graduation, the relief of completed coursework, the hopefulness of the future of my nursing career, and the anticipation of sleep. Lots of sleep. I do know what you’re feeling right now.

There is a major difference in my pinning 13 years ago, though, and your pinning today. You see, I wasn’t a registered nurse yet when I received my baccalaureate nursing pin. Each of you already hold your nursing license. Unlike me at the time, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into – being a nurse and all. I had no idea, really. When theory and precepted clinical rotations turn into autonomous nursing care and work, well, it’s something our distinguished faculty try their very best to prepare us for, but to fully understand it all, you have to live it.

And you have lived it. And you continue to do so. Some of you likely worked in the last 24 hours or are planning to in the next 24 hours. Because you’re nurses; you’re amazing like that. Multiple times every day, one simple phrase rings among millions of strangers…”I’m your nurse.” It seems simple enough, but those words hold power. Enveloped in three syllables is a promise. Even when it means “I’m the only one who can take this assignment right now,” or “Only eight more hours between me and the weekend,” it’s still a promise. A promise to analyze, problem-solve, prioritize, advocate, listen, encourage, treat, empathize, support, facilitate, and educate. It’s the ultimate confidentiality agreement leading to the beginning of an immediately intimate relationship. Very few statements match its power, and you hold it.

But you have previously held and wielded that phrase, serving as part of the longest-running, most trusted profession – nursing. So what does today change? What does earning you baccalaureate of science in nursing, your BSN degree, mean? What does it mean to your patients, workplace, community, public health, your discipline, to yourself? What does it mean?

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, “Baccalaureate nursing programs encompass all of the course work taught in associate degree and diploma programs plus a more in-depth treatment of the physical and social sciences, nursing research, public and community health, nursing management, and the humanities. The additional course work enhances the student’s professional development, prepares the new nurse for a broader scope of practice, and provides the nurse with a better understanding of the cultural, political, economic, and social issues that affect patients and influence health care delivery. Throughout the last decade, policymakers and practice leaders have recognized that education makes a difference.” In 2010, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation published a landmark report, The Future of Nursing, in which they detailed the U.S’s need to exponentially increase the number of BSN nurses to rapidly transform healthcare. But why? Because BSN nurses see things differently thanks to our broadened education, and it takes a better view to transform the one we have now of healthcare. With over 3.4 million nurses – by far the largest healthcare workforce in the U.S. – we are everywhere, which is a great thing because everywhere needs you. Whether it’s your neighborhood, church, school, Capitol Hill, the bedside or chairside, the boardroom, Industry, community groups…the nursing process will not fail you. Transform your world. You were prepared for this. Tonight is an indication of that.

I’d like to encourage you in two ways:

First, never stop learning. Now is as good a time as any to add that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing report also indicates the need to double the number of masters- and doctorally-prepared nurses. Relish today, yes, but know this is not the end. This is the beginning of your education. Yes, you can catch up on your sleep a bit first. My favorite nursing theorist is Hildegard Peplau. Yes, I have a favorite nursing theorist; if you don’t have a favorite nursing theorist, you should find one. It will help you realize that you’re in some pretty amazing company within the nursing profession. Peplau was the first nursing theorist to publish after Florence Nightingale, almost 100 years after Nightingale. 100 years! That’s a long time. Peplau was a staunch advocate for mental health care…and for nursing as a profession, with formal education. Her conceptual framework, Interpersonal Relations in Nursing, was finished in 1948, but it wasn’t published until 1952 because it was considered too revolutionary at the time for a nurse to publish without a physician co-author. At the age of 78, she said the following evergreen words that continuously spur me on in my own career: “Somewhere, somehow, at some time in the past, courageous nurses determined these skills, learned them, fought for the right to use them and taught them to other nurses. All nurses have an obligation to remember that part of nursing’s past and to keep their own skills in pace with new opportunities for nursing into the next century.” Never stop learning.

Second, never stop loving people. Yes, I said love. We rarely use that word in healthcare or in leadership; rather, we use words like “compassion.” That’s all over nursing. “Compassion” in its Latin form literally means “to love together with.” It gives rise to other concepts – empathy and altruism – that we also tout throughout nursing. But love of people undergirds it all. Nursing is a service discipline; you will never find a nursing role that does not focus on people. It is the very fiber of who we are.

Now, being nurses already, you know that people-work is hard-work. People! They are the very worst and the very best part of our care and work. They will drive you crazy; challenge your patience; make you cry hot, angry tears; and wish you never went into nursing. They will also trust you implicitly; soften your heart; teach you how to live; thank you for preserving their dignity; make you cry sweet, humble tears; and make you thankful for the care you get to provide every day. And that’s just one day! In all seriousness, loving people is the essence of care, and you have to take care of yourself in order to take care of everyone around you. People always talk about the impact nurses make on them, but we rarely discuss the fingerprints our patients make on us. We’re all shaped by them…incredibly genuine, broken, angry, joyful, amazing people.

Never stop learning. Never stop loving people. The nursing pins you’re receiving tonight are symbols of both – education and people – in many ways. Wear it with pride, and remember your past, ongoing, and future education as well as the people who have and continue to shape you in addition to the people you daily touch.

Never stop learning. Never stop loving people. Congratulations on this momentous milestone. Relish these feelings at this very moment; take note of them; remember them often to spur you on in transformative work. You are the future the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report described. What a bright future you are! Thank you for this privilege; I am proud to call you colleagues!

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“Care” by Toshihiro Oimatsu, Flickr.com
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[Book Review] It’s My Pleasure

IMG_0906Dee Ann Turner, Chick-Fil-A VP of Corporate Talent, details her organization’s service and wow-culture in It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture. Named for a saying that’s the norm in the food chain that now permeates businesses everywhere, It’s My Pleasure shares lovely stories of the people making Chick-Fil-A a powerhouse business continuing to innovate and wow customers.

Because Chick-Fil-A knows the people doing the work matter, they take great measures to steward their people – hiring the right people and then growing those people into their leaders at every level of the business. It’s refreshing to see often word-only business concepts like “loyalty” in a different way through Turner’s examples of how the company creates raving fans not only in their customer base but within their ranks, as well. And while most of us rarely consider dining in a fast food chain as a great “experience,” Chick-Fil-A works for just that purpose, delivering “second-mile service” rooted in deep faith principles.

Easily read in an afternoon, if you’re curious about culture change and how great organizations practically implement unparalleled service, It’s My Pleasure is the book for you.

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[Book Review] Emotional Intelligence 2.0

Few things determine success like emotional intelligence (EQ) – being able to recognize personal emotions as well as the IMG_0897emotions of others and manage those emotions within the environment or to attain the goal-at-hand.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 is Travis Bradberry’s and Jean Greaves’s first update in several years to their sentinel book. It’s a compact book with many brief chapters (2-4 pages each) separated into the four EQ skill sections of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. The book – when purchased new – includes a link to a free EQ test to assess strengths and opportunities for improvement, which can be especially helpful when reading the various sections.

As a leader I’ve seen great people with strong work skills crumble under the inability to recognize their emotions and get lost within them in critical moments or their inability to manage the emotions of others in tense moments, losing the leadership reigns. I have pointed many people to this book, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it if it wasn’t helpful personally. Recognizing and managing emotions in self or others is a key skill any leader should possess, and this book can absolutely assist with that in those struggling as well as those looking for reminders and perhaps new, practical skills to continue in successful work.

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[Book Review] Brilliant Mistakes

Brilliant MistakesBrilliant Mistakes is authored by Paul J.H. Schoemaker and narrated by Dave Courvoisier. With nearly five hours of audio, this book will keep your attention with great stories like finding the Beatles to the development of immunology and discovery of penicillin to Steve Jobs’s happenstance interest in calligraphy that revolutionized computer fonts.

Schoemaker does a lovely job discussing the types of mistakes – tragic, serious, trivial, and brilliant, and there are plenty of quotes that will spur you on when you’ve failed 573,298 times. He purports that companies must speed up deliberate and purposeful mistake-making to accelerate success, and that mistake-making risk must be diversified – just like finances. The more risk averse you are, the more you must diversify and, thus, make more mistakes. It’s counterintuitive because mistakes made together often have a synergistic hedging effect than a single mistake. Organizations that leverage frontline associates to generate and try ideas in work or those with robust R&D departments are the ones that most benefit from this concept as literally hundreds or thousands of ideas spread the risk of “mistakes” across a broad “area.” To be successful in failing frequently, organizations must deliberately hardware mistake-making and learning from them to accelerate the business or mission.

Brilliant Mistakes is chock full of great information. Pick it up or download the audio version for practical ideas and inspiration for “successful failing.”