Newsletter by Barbara Mintzer

Barbara Mintzer's Newsletter
The Power of a Vision... a Leader's Journey

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May 2006
Staying Committed To Your Work, Even When Difficult

Wow, what an honor and a privilege it was for me to keynote the combined National Nurse Managers Update and Critical Care Nurses Conference in Las Vegas two weeks ago. Over 1200 dedicated and compassionate nursing professionals attended this Conference, and I got to speak to them about the six inner core strengths all nursing professionals need, to stay motivated and engaged during these times of change and uncertainty. It is my pleasure to welcome so many of you to my monthly Newsletters.  I hope you find them of interest and of value to you. If you would like to read my previous Newsletters, please log on to my website:  and you will find all of them archived by subject and date.

These six inner core strengths apply to all professionals in all industries, as the workplace of today is characterized by change and volatility. The workplace is a microcosm of what is happening in the world, and the stresses of the world are being played out at work on a daily basis. That is why it is so important to be able to reach in and call on inner strengths to see us through, when everything on the outside seems so uncertain. I have discussed a number of these core strengths in my recent previous Newsletters, and this Newsletter will focus on a very important one:  the ability to stay committed to the work you do, even when that's difficult.

When I get up to give a talk, many a time I will tell my audience "I can't wait to hear what I have to say" because I usually need to hear the message myself. In the case of this Newsletter, "I can't wait to read what I have to write" because I have been struggling this year with my commitment to writing a Newsletter each month. This Newsletter is the 36th one I have written, and after three full years, I find it harder and harder to come up with new, relevant information that I believe will be of value and of interest to you. However, each time I do compose one, send it out, and then get feedback on how it has helped you and/or motivated you, that feedback keeps me going. I so appreciate your feedback, as it validates me when I am doubting myself. And, your e-mails have given me one way that we can all help ourselves to stay committed when the going gets rough:

Ask for feedback:  When you are doubting that what you are doing is making a difference, or if you are letting the everyday mundane parts of your work get you down, ask the people you work with for honest feedback. How do they see you and the work you do? Do they see how you are making a difference or how the work you do is benefitting your department and/or organization? We all tend to be very hard on ourselves, and we may judge the work we do with unrealistic standards. People on the outside may have a much clearer perspective of how we are doing. Especially for those of us who are "perfectionists" we have an all-or-nothing attitude about our work. Either we are doing great...or we are a failure...we don't allow for much in between. An honest outside perspective would help us get a more realistic look at the work we do and the contribution we make in our endeavors.

If you ask for honest feedback and you get it, be willing to take what you get! If that feedback contains some criticism or some advice on how you can do better, take it and look at it and assess it. If there is validity to the criticism, it gives you a good opportunity to work on improving your performance at work. When we are criticized, the first reaction is to defend ourselves and fight back. RESIST DOING THAT. You can question the feedback and ask for more information, as long as that is not done in a hostile "oh yeah" type of attitude. What stings and hurts you now may be very helpful to you once you get over your hurt. There is another way to help yourself stay committed, and that is to ask yourself:

If I wasn't doing this work, what else would I want to do:  I know this is particularly true for nursing professionals. I have spoken to and interviewed hundreds of nurses who have told me in spite of all the hardships they see; the pain and frustration they experience dealing with sick and injured people; the shortage of staff they have to deal with; there is nothing else they would want to do. So many of the nurses I have worked with have told me they believe this is a calling for them, they were meant to to this work, so they find the ways to get over the obstacles to stay committed to the work they were called to do.
If you are reading this Newsletter, stop...close your eyes...try to picture what else you could be doing if you were not doing the work you do now. If something else pops into your mind, and it is realistic, then you have some soul-searching to do. If you have been unhappy in your work for a long time, and you really WANT to do something else, this might be the time to do something about it. NOTE: If this is you, please read my Newsletter for March, 2006 which focuses on this issue.

If this is not you, and you really cannot think of doing anything else, then you need to put your obstacles in perspective and find ways to overcome them so you can stay committed and joyful in your work. When you get discouraged, go to a local bookstore and find something to read that is uplifting and motivating; something that will set you back on the right track. There are wonderful books out now that are easy reads that can give you just the uplift you need. If you commute a distance to work, find some audiotapes that will do the same thing for you, and listen to them and take in what they are saying. Since you have to drive to work anyway, they are a wonderful way to get inspired and motivated while you are in the car (with the cost of gas today, you need SOMETHING to inspire you). Many of you bought my t-shirt at the Conference. This is to let you know that I wear that t-shirt "I'm Not Pushed By My Problems...I'm Led By My Dreams" whenever I feel down and discouraged. I see it when I pass a mirror in my office or at home, and it puts me back in the right frame of mind. Do whatever you need to do to help you get back on track when you have been bogged down by fear, doubt, anger or discouragement.

Practice the art of forgiveness: Many people have told me that it is not the work that gets them down, it's the people they work with that make life difficult. Ain't that the truth! When we look at issues in the workplace, most of the time they come down to communication issues between people. Managers who do not have a sensitivity to the needs of their staffs; staff members who do not appreciate the situations their managers are in; members of a diverse team who do not respect each other's differences; and the list goes on. The truth is we are all stretched to the limit at work, and we do not have the time nor the energy to harbor resentments and hold grudges. The time and energy we spend thinking about "getting even" and retaliating could be spent on much more beneficial endeavors.

The workplace today compels us to take the high road in our dealings with others. I know that is difficult when you have an angry, fearful patient who lashes out at you, or an insensitive physician who demeans and embarrasses you in front of others, but what else can you do? You can confront the physician if it will not make it even more uncomfortable for you the next time you work with him/her. If it is a patient, there is probably not much you can do. In a business setting, you can talk to the person you report to if he/she is not respecting you or the work you do. If you have tried that, not gotten anywhere, and you still want to work where you do, the only practical and pragmatic thing to do is not take it personally and take the high road and forgive. Forgiving someone does not mean you condone what that person did, not at all. It just means you have decided for YOUR OWN peace of mind, to let the anger go.

One thing I have learned in all my years of working with people and coaching people.. process is process. If you take one thing away from this Newsletter, please let it be this...process is process. The insensitive manager, physician, co-worker, is the same in and out of the office. People are who they are, they do not change dramatically in one setting to another. An insensitive person is insensitive, period! He/she may be a little less insensitive at home, where they can let their guard down and not be in a role, but you will not find much difference. The husband or wife of the manager you have to deal with probably has the same communication  issues with that person at home. Maybe not to the same degree you have, but the issues are there just the same...because process is process. Now, doesn't that make you feel better. The person giving you grief at work is "spreading it around" at home, too. Practicing the art of forgiveness and letting it go will help you stay committed and energized to do the work you were called to do.

We have had a lot to think about in this Newsletter. If you wish to pass this Newsletter along to a colleague who may find it of value, feel free to do so. If that person would like to receive the Newsletter, e-mail me with the address, and I will put it on my database. If you know of an organization, association or corporation that would benefit from my message, please let me know. If you are looking for a keynote speaker or trainer for your next meeting, please think of me.

About the Author

Barbara Mintzer is a nationally recognized speaker and consultant with over 30 years in business and healthcare. She speaks from experience! Her how-to programs provide participants with immediately applicable skills and strategies for getting buy-in and commitment from staff and staying on top of their professions in today's competitive and constantly changing workplace. Barbara presents keynote talks and breakout sessions for international, national, regional and state Conferences. She also conducts management retreats and in-house seminars. She facilitates panel discussions and roundtables and can be a master of ceremonies for your event...a good investment for your meeting budget. To explore the possibility of having Barbara speak at your next event, or work with your staff/leadership team, please contact her office.

Phone: (805) 964-7546
FAX: (805) 964-9636

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