Jim and I spent our holiday this year in Ontario with our son Greg and his girlfriend, Cara. Since most of our siblings and extended family live within a 2 ½ hour drive of Greg and Cara’s house, we also did lots of visiting with our families. Jim especially enjoyed catching up with his cousin Laurie, with whom he has not really had a good ‘catch-up’ with in years. Laurie was telling Jim that she was 2 ½ days away from retirement. Laurie is one of the founders of Hospice Niagara; she is highly respected among her colleagues and for good reason.
After their visit, Jim was telling me that Laurie had explained to him that the average stay of a person in Hospice is about 10-15 days. She said that one of the things she is most proud of in her career is the environment that the staff had created. Their goal was to ensure that they gave each patient in their care the best 10-15 days possible. That is not to say that they could possibly give these patients the best 10-15 days of their lives; they simply committed to making these final 10-15 days the absolute best they could be. This really struck Jim, and when he shared it with me, I too was moved by the compassion and integrity of this team that Laurie had helped create. This team recognizes that life is a gift and they aim to make sure that every moment of that gift is used well.
I began to think about the possibility of this idea for each of us in our daily lives. At this time of year, we so often try to commit to resolutions that we hope to continue for the full year. Research shows us that by the end of the third week of January, the vast majority of the resolutions can be found tucked away in a gym bag in the back of the closet – just waiting for next year.
But what if, instead of committing to things for a whole year, we simply chose something we would like to work on for the next week, or day, or interaction.
Bob Hartley, coach of the Calgary Flames, used this philosophy in the 2014-2015 season, when he took a group of players, who were not ever expected to make it to the playoffs, and explained to them early in the season, that they did not have to concentrate on making playoffs; they simply had to win at least 4 out of every 7 games they played. He broke the season up into manageable, measureable pieces that had a length of seven games each. To everyone’s surprise, and to the delight of Calgarians, this team made the playoffs and were already accustomed to 7 game series when the playoffs arrived. What an incredible strategy.
As 2016 begins, instead of making huge resolutions, what if we each choose something meaningful that we can focus on for a short time. Say for oh... 10 -15 days. What if we choose to work out consistently. Or if we choose to make these days the best possible, within the circumstances of our lives, for someone in our family. Or if we choose to treat everyone we meet with respect, while we are out and about. Or if we choose to give a client the best service possible during our next interaction. Or if we choose to give someone a genuine compliment each day for this time period. Or if we choose to put down our phone for 30 minutes in order to focus on someone who was in the same room as us. Or if we choose, while at work, to look for and to find only the best in others.
I imagine that if hospice workers are able to commit to making the final 10-15 days of people’s lives (perfect strangers’ lives) the best gift possible, then surely we can find some small resolution that we can commit to in our own lives for this same period of time. What a world we would have if we each lived with the kind of genuine compassion and integrity that each of these hospice workers offered in their daily practice. And what a relief it would be to know that we do not have to make a resolution for the entire year. Just for a few days. And then a few more. And then....
What gift are you willing to commit to giving or receiving for the next 10-15 days?
Feel free to contact Elizabeth about personal or business coaching in 2016.