Lessons of Resilience
In the early spring of 2020, we closed our offices in order to re-engineer a process that would be safe to operate within the covid environment as we knew it at that time. I was working from home, no longer having any direct contact with patients or my staff. I felt grateful to be in a comfortable environment, here in the Upper Valley, with the unusual opportunity to have the company of three of our four young adult children. Looking back, I have learned a lot.
Give To Others
Helping others through my work has been my life blood. During the initial months of covid, while I enjoyed the freedom of more unscheduled time and extra time for conversations with my family, I was not really participating directly in helping others. As a physical therapist, caring for patients was my daily job. As a business owner, supporting my staff was my job. After a number of weeks, I felt an emptiness that I couldn’t identify. It took me a while to realize that things had become quite out of balance in my life between what I was giving and what I was receiving. Giving generously to others is critical to maintaining that balance, particularly when things feel difficult for you personally.
Have Courage, Be Decisive, Take Action
At the onset of Covid in this country, we did not know what would lie ahead. The escalating deaths arising out the NYC area was staggering. I made an early decision to close our offices and furlough most all staff, but with the promise we would get everyone back on board. As an organization, we could have been paralyzed and delayed action until the smoke had cleared and the situation felt more comfortable. Instead, we took decisive action to change how we were operating and execute a plan to create a safe environment for our patients. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t always smooth. But on a steadily increasing basis, our patients felt safe to return for the care that they needed and wanted. The only real bad decision is no decision. The only real bad action is no action. Have courage and act.
Feeling capable, without needing the approval of others for self-worth, is one of the most important characteristics to have and ability to develop. It is the antidote to anxiety. Particularly in these uncertain times, when anxiety seems to have expanded throughout our culture, this lesson has become even more fundamental to one’s wellbeing. I feel this so strongly that it is the most important outcome I want our staff to achieve with each of their patients. The individual feels more capable, more able and confident that they can handle their condition that brought them to us.
While I would like to believe that I stood stalwart all of this time, that would not be true. After a roll of some experiences that didn’t go as expected, I found myself in a strange place feeling uncomfortable and vulnerable. Fortunately, I have a wife, family and friends who understand me, and who provided the support and understanding that was effective for me. So my last lesson is not only to just help others, but to help those who are down, to stand up tall. Even the most exceptional people may experience a devastating fall in self-confidence, as evidenced by Simone Biles in this summer’s Olympics. It’s not through sympathy and it is not simply providing a helping hand. It is helping people to stand on their own two feet, believing in themselves for who they want to be. It is developing or restoring their self-confidence.
‘It’s better to give than to receive.’ This old cliché never made so much sense to me as it does now. My learning continues.