What if most of what we know about the process of growing older is wrong? What if we could free ourselves from our presumptions about aging’s inevitable decline, and by doing so come to a new, richer understanding of what our late-life years could and should be? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.
Visionaries are those who see how tied they are to all we “know” – all the conventional assumptions we mostly accept without examination - and choose to cut that cord, to untether themselves from those limitations, and imagine a better world.
From among them spring the innovators – the mavericks who kick-start revolutions and movements that change the world. Our aging society desperately needs its visionaries and innovators to lead the way, because so much of what we accept now is simply unacceptable – especially for those of us in the Baby Boomer generation who aren’t willing to settle for less from life than we’ve had in the past and are searching for a greener horizon ahead.
What does it take to be an innovator in Hospice? Caring is where it starts; mission is where it takes you. When you’re on fire with a sense of mission, what’s impossible is just another hurdle to fly over. I remember that feeling from the early days of hospice, that sense of powerful forward momentum that carried me over the many challenges we faced every day. Our office was a remodeled elevator shaft, a windowless space with walls that were 2 feet thick. We didn’t charge fees; it was a free service offered by our community hospital, Alachua General. Our annual budget was $40,000. We created the rules as we went along. Rejecting the status quo was exhausting yet exhilarating because we knew we were holding a torch for those who would follow. Even on the roughest days, that felt like freedom.
The global pandemic has left many of us untethered from our usual routines (and ruts). We long for some type of stability. But look at what you have created when you were required to untether yourself from the assumptions and adjusted to the unknown. How can we all – as hospice leaders, healthcare workers, caregivers, and human beings – continue to look beyond the traditional frameworks and regulatory abyss that constrain our thinking, and stay in a “beginner's mind” to reimagine the future? Your own, and your organization’s future?
It’s a question worth pondering. What I do know is that the pandemic has given us all a chance to reexamine everything. Now it’s time to decide what we will keep and what we will let go of to live a full and vibrant life. What’s on your list?
Love and Light,