“Resilience is knowing that YOU are the only one who has the power and the responsibility to pick yourself up.”
“You are way over budget! If you don’t fire two people by Friday, you will be given a written warning, and I WILL!”
My hands shook with frustration and anger as I hung up the telephone with Paul, my district manager.
I looked out at the line of customers that seemed to go through the back of the store.
“Yeah, fire people. Brilliant.” I thought to myself.
I had been a community pharmacist for more than 18 years, and I had never been talked to that way before, but Paul was a numbers guy. He was not impressed by the awards I had received, or the fact that my sales were 20% higher than the previous year, or that my store was leading the district even though we were operating in one of the smallest markets in the state.
He was all about something he called profit percentage and he was playing hard ball.
I was trained in medicine.
I had no experience with hardball.
Paul had been transferred to our district from the operations division and hardball was his game; he had no experience in customer service or improving patient outcomes.
We had been going back and forth on this issue for several weeks and I was at my wits end.
Firing two people that I had hired, trained, worked with for years, and come to love as if they were part of my own family wasn’t something I was even capable of.
I would sooner put a gun to my head, so I did the only thing I could think of.
I set the pharmacy keys on the counter and began to walk toward the door.
As I reached for the handle, an image of my wife’s and son’s faces popped into my head.
It was 2008 and the real estate market had collapsed. I had lost $200,000 in property values seemingly overnight, and I knew that moving to another area wasn’t an option.
I had recently been to urgent care because my blood pressure was up, my heart rate was high, and for the first time in my life I was as anxious as a cat.
I remember the degrading feeling of slinking back over to my keys and slipping them into my pocket.
I went home that night in a kind of a frustrated stupor.
My wife Tonya wanted to watch “Marley & Me”.
As I sat there numbly in front of the movie, I began to cry.
Not at the part where Marley dies.
I loved Marley, but the part that made me cry was the part where Owen Wilson is sitting in his car, in his own driveway, not wanting to go into his own house.
The pressures of life had gotten to his relationships, and life simply wasn’t fun anymore.
I knew that feeling well.
I hated that feeling.
Tonya looked at me and said weakly, “I love you, ya know.”
“Please don’t ever say that to me again.” I shot back childishly.
“It’s because of you that I have to keep doing this.”
I’m not proud of that.
I couldn’t even believe I had said it.
I don’t know if Tonya slept that night, but I sure didn’t.
I remember wandering like a ghost through my own home at 3 or 4 in the morning, feeling absolutely hollow.
I just wanted it all to go away.
I felt like George Bailey in “It’s A Wonderful Life” and I just wanted to jump off a bridge.
As the night wore on, I remembered sitting on the couch with my head in my hands in abject despair.
Suddenly, I heard a noise coming from my son’s room.
He was kind of talking in his sleep. the way kids do, and I thought about how precious HE was.
All at once, everything shifted.
Without warning, a single, solitary piece of enlightenment popped into my head:
“Would you REALLY want this wonderful little boy to grow up without a father over some stupid job?”
I know now that years of burnout, fatigue, and exhaustion had hammered away at my awareness level. I was living in a sort of mental black hole, and when Paul gave me an ultimatum, I simply lost sight of what was truly important.
Have you ever done that?
It sucks, doesn’t it?
It was at that moment, when I made a life changing decision.
I was done feeling sorry for myself, and I was ready for reinvention as a powerful human being who wasn’t going to let life bargain with him.
I would bargain with life.
I decided that if I had to live in a one bedroom apartment and sleep on the floor, I would.
I was in charge of my life, not Paul or anyone else.
Nothing life or any job had to offer was worth the price of worry.
I had lost my perspective and I was determined to get it back.
My Reinvention Story
I decided in an instant that I would do 3 things to gain back my own personal power:
- I would forgive myself for responding poorly to the situation and for all of my past mistakes and temporary failures.
- I would forgive Paul. He was doing his job, as he saw it, from the awareness level he was living at.
- I would be grateful for, AND TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for, my own situation and circumstances.
Life is like a competition for an olympic gold medal; the seeds of success are found in overcoming adversity.
As health care providers, and as individuals, we have to accept the idea that struggles, ours or those of our patients, build us into who we are, and they constantly sculpt our our character.
The key is to embrace our challenges and to decide to become better people as the experiences mount up.
In a nutshell, successful personal or professional reinvention requires GUTS and our guts are earned through our difficulties.
There simply is no other way to become the best at who we are, or what we do.
Ten years have gone by and I still have my challenges.
Paul and I have each gone on to new opportunities, but if I see him again, I’ll thank him for the person I have become.
If you would like to learn more about how to cultivate resilience and stay out in front of burnout, fatigue, and exhaustion, I invite you to sign up for my FREE Masterclass: The 5 Steps For Staying Ahead Of Provider Burnout, Compassion Fatigue, & Emotional Exhaustion
The masterclass is offered several times a day and comes with a beautiful PDF handout to keep you on track for YOUR AMAZING FUTURE!
Here’s to YOU reinvented!