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During the holidays, I had the pleasure of seeing the play "Avenue Q" in an off-Broadway production in New York. I had to chuckle.
As children, the characters were assured by their parents and by children's television programs that they were "special" and "could do anything." But as adults, they have discovered that in the real world their options are limited, and they are no more "special" than anyone else.
Ironically, the characters spend a good portion of their time ruminating about their "purpose." By now you know how much harping I do about understanding your passion and purpose. This play made me think that perhaps passion and purpose will always be works in progress.
The last song in the show is entitled "For Now." Consider the dialogue/lyrics:
Maybe you'll never find your purpose.
Character 2: Lots of people don't.
Character 3: But then - I don't know why I'm even alive!
Character 4: Well, who does, really? Everyone's a little bit unsatisfied.
Character 5: Everyone goes 'round a little empty inside.
Here are selected lyrics that follow:
Take a breath,
Swallow your pride,
For now ...
Life goes on,
Full of surprises.
You'll be faced with problems of all shapes and sizes.
You're going to have to make a few compromises ...
For now ...
For now we're healthy.
For now we're employed.
For now we're happy... (If not overjoyed.)
And we'll accept the things we cannot avoid, for now ...
Let life roll off your backs
Except for death and paying taxes,
Everything in life is only for now!
For me, all of this reinforced that life is a journey. Things will never be perfect. The past is the past. The future is not here.
Clichés somewhat? Sure. But they are clichés for a reason--they have some meaning.
A person coaching me a while back said, "This is what it's like when life is working." In other words, you know you are fully immersed in life when you recognize that the ups and downs, good and bad are all part of it.
Don't get me wrong. I still believe in that passion and purpose stuff. I also believe it can change over time. After all, we are always changing and searching. But in our travels and quests, we must be mindful of what the "Avenue Q" characters tell us--Everything in life is only for now.
One way to navigate the healthcare environment--especially when it's challenging and demanding--is to step into each moment totally conscious of it. Margaret Wheatley and others invite leaders to step into it consciously because it's the way "to maintain a sense of focus and peace as a leader."
How does one step into a moment totally conscious of it? It can't be taught. But you know it when you see it. Take a cue from the story Doug Della Pietra told in his Hospital Impact post last month about the actions of a staff member. She was truly in the moment.
So forget your resolutions for the New Year. Forget your SMART goals. Does that scare you? It should. But it is not without precedent.
Take my friend Tony Decker from long-term care management company Westcare. The organizations they manage have few metrics; what they have is a guiding philosophy. Leaders create optimal conditions, see people as unique, important and useful and create a challenging cause where people are needed for the outcome.
Goals that may have seemed more intuitive and apparent in the healthcare arena of the past seem less certain and clear today. And they are irrelevant almost from the time they are committed to paper.
Step into each moment totally conscious of it and see how it can change your perspective and your life while unconsciously helping you achieve a higher purpose. Goals may only be a by-product of living consciously.
Editor's Note: Anthony would also like to thank Doug for recommending these resources:
Anthony Cirillo, FACHE, ABC, is president of Fast Forward Consulting, which specializes in experience management and strategic marketing for healthcare facilities. He also is the expert guide in Assisted Living for About.com.
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