Leadership and…a Refuge

Leadership and…a Refuge

Protection or Protectionism?

They are different terms and when it comes to leadership, protectionism is a far easier route than protection.

I have pondered these terms at length.

Protection means to protect someone or something or to preserve from injury and harm.

Protectionism, on the other hand, isn’t just about economics, tariffs, and political posturing; in the workplace, it’s about closing off positive influences.

***

There’s a plethora of information out there on leadership.

Over the course several careers, I’ve read countless books on the subject, have attended numerous classes, courses, and seminars, and have had the best institutional role model on earth, US Marine Corps, give me the specs on leadership.

Yet, at the end of the day, it’s all just words…and words are cheap.

Words mean nothing. They sit there between the pages of the nicest looking handouts and booklets. They’re projected onto a large screen for even larger audiences to gawk at until their eyes glaze over—usually about half hour after arriving for said class.

All the books I’ve read and all the classes, seminars, and institutes I’ve attended…I never once had any of them teach me the wisdom of leading men and women: the subtle nuances that we as leaders do, or don’t do, that can make or break the morale in an organization.

“Truth is more caught than it is taught, ” said my mentor once.

We need more wisdom than ever before, especially since we have 5 different generations in the workforce.

***

No matter where I live, or visit, I always run into people who have the same complaint: I hate my job.

When I dig a little, what I find is that most either love the actual work they do or at least find it tolerable, but their supervisor or the administration as a whole is evil incarnate.

Why?

“Why is it that everyone just wants to do the bare minimum around here?” complained a peer supervisor in my last duty.

Well, that was an easy one.

People didn’t feel safe, nor appreciated, nor did they feel their voice mattered to this particular supervisor.

Getting needed gear and equipment was like pulling teeth for this particular supervisor. Yet, if a complaint was brought in from a citizen off the street, there would be high-level gossip about said employee before anyone got the courage to ask the employee what happened—by that time, the employee was already browbeaten by the administration with the looming threat of official disciplinary action.

Then there’s the matter of peers who take it upon themselves to pass judgment and condemn the actions of another employee without gaining any facts from that person first hand.

You know…that one employee that always sees the bad in every situation, and that no supervisor likes to deal with. They bad mouth your decision but will not have the courage to come speak with you directly to find out why you made such a decision.

When stopped and asked why they’re slandering a fellow employee, they’ll argue that they are only trying to shed light for purposes of training others…Bleh!

It’s nothing more than gossip and slander…by the one who thinks they could’ve done a better job.

Thus, they judge from afar while laying down a smoke screen of concern…easier to hide under the blanket of protectionism than…

So, walking into an office with gossip being tossed around by your supervisors, your professionalism questioned by your peers, and the never-ending scrutiny of those outside of your particular agency, company, or corporation, can make even the most stable employee nerve-wracked.

The workplace can feel like a battle zone, slugging it out in the trenches for professional respect, honor, and dignity.

When such things happen in an organization, your employees do not feel safe. Far from a safe haven where one can focus on their work and accomplish their mission.

It’s ugly.

How nice would it be if we as leaders were a bit more proactive?

Instead of taking a ‘wait and see’ approach to the one employee that creates a hostile work environment, pull that individual to the side and tell them to be quiet, unless they would like to teach a class on how to do it better.

Most managers don’t deal with that employee because they themselves are entrenched…in protectionism. Hiding behind their desk and behind a curtain of fear.

What a relief it is when you work for someone that proves over and over again that they have your back.

This doesn’t mean you don’t answer for your actions—that’s true accountability; but it means that your leader cares enough about you that she doesn’t engage in hi-level hearsay. She won’t allow that piss poor employee run over you or the rest of the staff with slander, gossip, and negative attitudes.

The leaders that have exhibited that they care about me, are leaders that I’d follow over a cliff to get the job done.

***

Do your employees feel safe? Do they feel that they can come to you with a problem without fear of reprisal? Do the good folks that work for you feel that you have their best interests in mind?

Or…

Do you hide under a cloak of protectionism: behind your oak desk worried about your own reputation and look for the first opportunity to discipline a subordinate because that will make you feel powerful or make you look good in front of your supervisor?

Or…

Do we knee-jerk a decision about someone on our team before hearing the whole story and allow that employee a voice in the matter to find out what happened? Are we too interested in our comfort—making sure we get off on time, making sure we get that holiday off, always thinking about the benefits of our position—rather than ensuring that we do whatever it takes that those who look to us for help to accomplish their job get the right tools, equipment, training…and the knowledge that gossip and slander is quickly rooted out and dealt with in a timely, fair, and professional manner?

Are we a refuge for those whom we lead?


Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Leadership, Reinvention, Self-Improvement
PTSD…Can You Really be Cured?

PTSD…Can You Really be Cured?

This was a question I received in my email a few days ago.

Then, another question immediately followed…”Are you really better or is this just an image you project?”

I stared at that last question, but I was still processing the first, I dunno, I thought. Am I cured of PTSD?

I did some research. I did some thinking…and as usual, thinking meant a whole lot more thinking, scanning, and self-evaluation.

An answer to the first leads me to the next question. So here we go…

Are you ever cured of PTSD?

Almost every professional in the mental health industry says…No. There is no cure for mental illness and, at best, it’s manageable, so they say, and this includes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

And, after personally interacting with many who have PTSD—cops to combat vets—to those who claim they have PTSD; and after struggling with some significant symptoms on my own, I tend to agree.

I mean, I still have nightmares from time to time; yet they’re not as vivid nor disturbing as they once were.

There are still things that trigger a thought, an ugly image, or sometimes, like the other day, there is no known trigger—

I sat at dinner with my significant other, Kirsten, and for no reason at all, my brain switched on some random video in my head about a bad call I had gone to years ago as a cop, that I had pretty much forgotten.

For a few moments, while slowly chewing dinner, I completely zoned out; this random thought played through my head. It was if I time traveled to that particular situation.

Although, I’m much quicker these days to recognize this intrusion.

Almost without any effort, I breathed a chuckle to myself, refocused my attention to the moment and continued on with eating a great dinner and having great conversation. Kristen didn’t even notice the hiccup.

Then there’s the grocery store…

A certain aisle contains a certain food that is associated with a certain hideous call I rolled up on early in my cop career. For years, I could not walk down this certain aisle without having anxiety go screaming off the charts to about choke off my air supply.

Today, I can walk down that certain aisle, look at that certain product and no problems. Not even a bump in the BPM now.

For me, this road to healing has been a lot like a scab on a deep wound. As long as I worked on healing this wound, things got better.

But, the moment I picked at it, dug at it, or kept it buried thinking it’d just go away with time, it would flare up with a vengeance which was like experiencing hell all over again.

And when that happened, I compounded the problem by questioning my own sanity.

So am I cured? Based on the fact I still have some minor issues from time to time, I’d have to say No. But I’m not so sure if ‘cured’ is the correct term here.

Cure relates to a medical condition. It means to relieve a person of the symptoms of a disease or condition.

Some professionals have begun to question the term Disorder. There’s talk of changing PTSD to PTSI; Post-Traumatic Stress Injury.

So maybe you can be a cured.

I think injury works better than disorder.

Even a severed limb will heal with the right treatment, it just leaves you with one heck of a scar.

So, onto the next question…Am I really better or is this just some sort of show?

I replied with, Great question and Thank You for asking.

Yes, I am much better these days. I recently mentioned to a friend that this is the best place I’ve ever been in my life in relation to peace, living intentionally, and just being happy.

I have my days though where I don’t fire on all cylinders. Sometimes I don’t get enough sleep, or I don’t eat right, or life happens and things don’t go as expected. It’s life, some days are better than others.

Yet, good or bad days, it’s those daily habits I’ve incorporated into my life through this healing journey that helps me to quickly regain balance.

Those daily habits are what helped me heal. I didn’t start each one all at once, it was a slow build until I discovered I was doing all of these every day…

I take care of my emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health:

Every day, I start off with prayer and meditation.

Then somewhere during the day I’ll get out and move, whether it’s a run, or a walk, or a bike ride, or jumping jacks and some pushups; I’m doing something physical…moving is living.

I do an idea and a grateful list every day to exercise my mind and to refocus my thoughts.

I write in my journal every day, again to refocus my thoughts and help sort out what is important in life.

AND!!! People who constantly gossip, complain, and are generally negative about everything under the sun, must be cut out—you can’t heal if your environment is toxic.

Which brings me to the fact that I needed to change my environment if I had any chance to heal.

Injured people are taken to a hospital, or to a doctor.

The idea here is that injured folks are taken out of the environment that injured them and put in a place where they can get help, be nurtured, and strengthened so they can function once again.

Yet, for some reason, when it comes to this sort of injury, the PTS part, we have a tendency to think we’ll be okay because it’s like, Hey, I’m not gushing arterial blood here, so I’m cool.

Wrong. I wasn’t bleeding on the outside but on the inside.

And, it’s easy to ignore because NO ONE sees us inside.

We mask ourselves with a smile and everyone thinks all is good; yet we are dying and suffocating from the pressure and tension on the inside.

The nightmares won’t stop, the anxiety won’t go away, and the constant barrage of negativity simply won’t end.

I didn’t want to become a hollowed out shell of a man. Hence, I walked away, retired, left, whatever you want to call it, it was time to get away from the toxic environment that invariably creates such an injury.

This doesn’t mean you must retire or change careers, but perhaps it might.

The very least, maybe a leave of absence to help refocus your priorities, catch your breath and heal up a bit. You might find that during that time away, dedicated to healing, you’ll be able to think clearer as to what it is you truly want to do with the few precious days left here on this planet.

BUT, that’s just a thought, an idea, and not telling you what you should do with your life.

It’s your life to live, no one else’s. So don’t allow the expectations of others dictate how, where, or what you should do with your life.

Can we be cured? Yes, I think so.

Is this for real? Heck yeah!


Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Burnout, Life Hack, Living Better, PTSD, Reinvention, Self-Improvement