A Pot of Gold

Each Shot of Satisfaction is related to one of the seven steps back from burnout in the process of REFLECT. My hope is that, by sharing with you how I apply these steps in my daily life, it will help you on your journey to a fulfilling life of caregiving.

Originally published December 7th, 2009 

This Shot of Satisfaction relates to Step 3 – FORMULATE your plan. Recalculate the transaction of care using the Perfect Equation. Free yourself from your hidden agenda.


A Pot of Gold

We work in an environment where we have plenty of challenges. We can’t control others. Nor can we change them. The only thing we can change, and it is not easy, is ourselves. When each of us works towards changing our thinking, seeing our challenges as opportunities, we begin to change our world! – Dr. Frank

“The difference between try and triumph is just a little ‘umph!’”
-Unknown

We are all looking for satisfaction at work. Sometimes we think we know why we don’t have it. We might feel the reason is because our patients have a sense of entitlement or they don’t appreciate what we do. Maybe we feel our co-workers are not team players. Or maybe we feel expectations are too high and it’s impossible to meet everyone’s demands.

No matter what we think the problem is, it all boils down to one single thought: We believe our lack of satisfaction is the result of someone, or something, we routinely encounter which is less than ideal. Moreover, we want someone (other than ourselves), to change, or fix, those less-than-ideal “someones” or “somethings.”

Our thinking tells us that if those undesirable circumstances were removed or changed, we would instantly have job satisfaction. But perhaps it’s our way of thinking that needs to be changed.

Picture yourself standing at one end of a giant rainbow. At the other end is a pot of gold. You want the satisfaction contained in the pot. Now imagine there is a large fence between you and the gold. Did your satisfaction disappear?

No. It’s still there, but now you have to do something to get it. So would you give up and go home? Or would you scale that wall gladly, knowing there are riches waiting for you on the other side? Odds are you would because the fence is simply a challenge – not an impenetrable barrier blocking you from satisfaction.

It is similar for us at work. We want to care for others. This is why we are here. This is also where our satisfaction lies – much like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Those less-than-ideal people and situations are our fences. We need to see them as opportunities for us to get our satisfaction.

Get your copy of "Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care" at amazon.com

Get your copy of “Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care” at amazon.com

We work in an environment where we have plenty of challenges. We can’t control others. Nor can we change them. The only thing we can change, and it is not easy, is ourselves. When each of us works towards changing our thinking, seeing our challenges as opportunities, we begin to change our world!

TAKE ACTION

Today, and every day, dig deep, reach into your soul; find a way to see the obstacle in front of you for what it is: a challenge. See it as the fence you must scale in order to find a way to care, to make a difference.

With this mindset, you will have access to unlimited amounts of job satisfaction. You will become empowered. You will have scaled the fence and found the way to care for another, and you will get some real and lasting, good old-fashioned, satisfaction.

All the best,
Dr. Frank

 

See Good, Feel Good

Each Shot of Satisfaction is related to one of the seven steps back from burnout in the process of REFLECT. My hope is that, by sharing with you how I apply these steps in my daily life, it will help you on your journey to a fulfilling life of caregiving.

Originally published December 2nd, 2009 

This Shot of Satisfaction relates to Step 5 – EVALUATE your results. Recognize what you bring to the encounter. Is your giving care effective? If not, go to step six and begin again.


Look for the good in everyone

We can’t choose what happens to us, but we can make a choice about how we feel and think about those things. We could focus on the bad we see in humanity. We could react and get angry or frustrated, and let them wreck our day, or we can pause, and choose a different heartfelt response. – Dr. Frank

It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.
Henry Louis Mencken, A Little Book in C Major, 1916

Forty-five minutes before the end of my night shift, the charge nurse Jeff, approached me with a problem. “I just put a domestic violence case in 24,” he said, “I feel really bad for this woman. She’s going through a nasty break-up and somehow her ex found out where she was staying. This morning, as she was picking up her kids, he rammed her car. I guess it wasn’t the first time the guy did something like this.  She already filed a police report. But now she’s complaining of head and neck pain as well as left rib and shoulder pain.”

I felt the pressure. I was exhausted, but Jeff wanted me to find a way to stretch myself a little more, to get in there and help. He genuinely felt bad for the woman. Just then, I was called away on an important matter. I was on the phone when the incoming doctor arrived. As he opened the curtain on 24, I heard him exclaim, “He did it again? I just saw you two weeks ago for the same thing! But it looks like you had a different name back then.” In an instant, the allegedly battered woman was miraculously healed. She got up and walked out the door.

Turns out, she lied. She registered without an I.D. And she almost got away with it. If any other doc showed up that morning to relieve me, or if I had found a way to get into the room before the phone rang, her lie would have gone undetected. What possessed her to get up at the crack of dawn and come to the hospital with such an elaborate story? On her previous visit, the woman saw the same doctor, and left with some pills to help ease her pain. My guess is that she wanted more pills. The question is, “Why?”

Was she in an abusive relationship where her tormentor forced her to get these pills? Was she addicted and looking for a fix? Did she need the pills to sell for cash to put dinner on the table? While we’ll never know which scenario applied, it is clear that she came to the Emergency Department because she had a problem that she could not fix herself. She needed our help.

In our work of helping others, it is easy to see how and why we can become jaded or burned out. Until humanity perfects itself, others will always try to take advantage of our good nature. So what? Who cares? Desperate people do desperate things. We cannot let others make us bitter. We can’t choose what happens to us, but we can make a choice about how we feel and think about those things. We could focus on the bad we see in humanity. We could react and get angry, or frustrated, and let them wreck our day, or we can pause, and choose a different heartfelt response.

Get your copy of "Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care" at amazon.com

Get your copy of “Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care” at amazon.com

When things like this happen, we can take the opportunity to see our own kindness, tolerance and compassion reflected back to us. We can feel good, we can feel satisfied with who we are as people, and with what we do. No doubt, as the holidays move closer, we will all be in this same position over and over again. But if we follow Jeff’s lead and express compassion anyway, we will experience all the joy this season brings.

TAKE ACTION

Make the choice to see the good. Be good, do good, look for the good, and most importantly, feel good!

All the best,
Dr. Frank

The Miracle Zone

Each Shot of Satisfaction is related to one of the seven steps back from burnout in the process of REFLECT. My hope is that, by sharing with you how I apply these steps in my daily life, it will help you on your journey to a fulfilling life of caregiving.

Originally published November 30th, 2009 

This Shot of Satisfaction relates to Step 1 -REMEMBER what you came here for. Reconnect with your desire to care. Remember what you want from your work: the feeling good that comes from truly caring for others.


The power to create miracles

Obstacles to our satisfaction give us the opportunity to stop and, instead of going with the automatic reaction, inject a thinking and feeling response to the situation. That heart-felt response is how we become the cause of our own satisfaction. When we rise above our reactive nature, we enter the miracle zone, where we can expect the unexpected. – Dr. Frank

“The Tao Te Ch’ing says, ‘When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.’”
Mary Manin Morrissey

 

The power to create miracles

We just entered one of the most magical times of the year. Many consider this the month of miracles. A miracle is an event or effect that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and is considered supernatural in origin. Wouldn’t it be great if we could see miracles of healing as a result of our care every day?

So what gets in our way? It’s us. Why? One of our challenges to feeling satisfaction on the job is our need for appreciation – from our managers, our patients, our patient’s families and even each other.

Why the desire for a pat on the back? Some days we are just plain needy. The problem is, it’s difficult to give when you are empty. Subconsciously, we allow our emptiness to cause us to act in ways that are unhealthy. If we were confident and self-assured, we would not have the need to be thanked or appreciated. We would not seek assurance from others.

Our unconscious need for the “Thank you,” for the “Wow,” for the “You’re so great,” causes our agenda to get in the way. If we are dependent on the approval to feel good, then we really have nothing to give. We show up as takers, wanting to take from our patients.

It is all right to like the “Thank you,” or to love the appreciation. But nothing in this world will ever give us fulfillment if we are dependent on it. If we can only be happy when we have a million dollars in the bank, then we are probably doomed to a life of sadness. If our happiness is dependent on another, we will never be satisfied by the relationship.

Get your copy of "Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care" at amazon.com

Get your copy of “Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care” at amazon.com

So how can we get satisfaction? Let go of the kudos!

Obstacles to our satisfaction give us the opportunity to stop and, instead of going with the automatic reaction, inject a thinking and feeling response to the situation. That heart-felt response is how we become the cause of our own satisfaction. When we rise above our reactive nature, we enter the miracle zone, where we can expect the unexpected.

TAKE ACTION

Today, whenever you are feeling under-appreciated, under-paid, under-loved, or just plain needy, recognize it for what it is: an obstacle. Let go of your need for the kudos! Find a way to give care anyway. See if something miraculous happens!

Miracles and blessings,
Dr. Frank

 

Finding Diamonds

Each Shot of Satisfaction is related to one of the seven steps back from burnout in the process of REFLECT. My hope is that, by sharing with you how I apply these steps in my daily life, it will help you on your journey to a fulfilling life of caregiving.

Originally published November 25th, 2009 – This Shot of Satisfaction relates to Step 4 -LOOK at your position within the transaction of care, and ask yourself if you are the cause of something better or the effect of another’s situation. Am I reacting or am I responding?
Reframe your role (in the patient encounter, or any interpersonal encounter), and your position in regards to your goal: to understand that the obstacles to your satisfaction aren’t outside you, but within you. Make the inner transformation and shift your position in your personal, internal quantum space from a negative to a positive one.


Diamonds, Diamonds, Everywhere…

As we run around like crazy people this week, tending to all the details and distractions of Thanksgiving, take a moment to hear the words of my patient, “But Doc, it’s Thanksgiving!” Take a moment to see past the distractions and illusions of our fast-paced world, to feel another’s pain, and to look for the things in your daily life that you are truly grateful for. – Dr. Frank

“I find that the more willing I am to be grateful for the small things in life, the bigger stuff just seems to show up from unexpected sources, and I am constantly looking forward to each day with all the surprises that keep coming my way!”
-Louise L. Hay

Yesterday, I told a patient (who came to the hospital thinking he had a bladder infection) that his CT scan showed he had bladder cancer. He said, “But Doc, it’s Thanksgiving!”

Unfortunately, there is never a good time to deliver bad news, especially of this magnitude. The reason it’s difficult is because, in these moments, we cannot ignore a profound truth: We care about our patients.

Last week, I shared with you a story about a man who went on a journey to search for diamonds. Along the way, he discovered that his natural gifts were the real diamonds – and they were worth more than any precious gem. In the emergency department, we often get so caught up in the details of searching for the physical diagnosis that we miss the essence of what we do: provide care. Diagnosing the problem is only the first part of the journey. The actions we take after we deliver the harsh news are where our diamonds can be found.

These challenging moments are our opportunities to share our natural gifts, to provide true care, and to be extraordinary. We have a chance to feel our patient’s pain as though it were our own. We can let them know that their diagnosis affects us as well. It’s not just business as usual. We are there to help shoulder their burden. We make it our responsibility to stay in that uncomfortable place with our patients until they feel our care and understand that our purpose is to lay down our own troubles and do whatever it takes to make things better for them.

These unique human interactions between care giver and patient, this uncomfortable place where we share genuine, intimate contact, where we catch a glimpse of each other’s humanity, are the precious gems of the work we do. As we run around like crazy people this week, tending to all the details and distractions of Thanksgiving, take a moment to hear the words of my patient, “But Doc, it’s Thanksgiving!” Take a moment to see past the distractions and illusions of our fast-paced world, to feel another’s pain, and to look for the things in your daily life that you are truly grateful for.

Courtney summed it up for us this way:

“I think the Emergency Room is a great place to work because going to work and witnessing the pain and struggle in others’ lives serves as a daily reminder to be very grateful for the blessings in our own lives. Everyone has trials in their life, and it is so easy to become so focused on the challenges that we forget to really evaluate all the good we have… A big reminder for me is when I go to Children’s Hospital. I take the kids there for various appointments, and EVERY TIME, walking through the hospital I see children in wheelchairs, and children that cannot talk or run. It strikes me as my own children skip happily at my side how blessed I am that my children are healthy. So, I am grateful that I am reminded every time I go to work to be grateful for the SIMPLE blessings in life.”

Get your copy of "Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care" at amazon.com

Get your copy of “Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care” at amazon.com

TAKE ACTION

Remember the immortal words of John F. Kennedy: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

Happy Days of Thanks!
Dr. Frank

 

A Better Tomorrow

Each Shot of Satisfaction is related to one of the seven steps back from burnout in the process of REFLECT. My hope is that, by sharing with you how I apply these steps in my daily life, it will help you on your journey to a fulfilling life of caregiving.

Originally published November 18th, 2009 – This Shot of Satisfaction relates to Step 1 -REMEMBER what you came here for. Reconnect with your desire to care. Remember what you want from your work: the feeling good that comes from truly caring for others.


How can tomorrow be better?

There is no greater healing force in this world than a human who can truly feel (if even for a moment) the pain of another. Feeling the pain of someone else, and having the true desire to make it go away, can create miracles. – Dr. Frank

“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.”
-Kenji Miyazawa

The Emergency Department is a great place to work, mostly because of YOU, and the team that cares a lot!

There is one person who has been with me on the journey to develop Clear2Care. She has stood by me since the beginning—encouraging and supporting me. That person is my assistant, Cheryl Kolesar. She wholeheartedly supports Clear2Care’s singular mission: To remind the brave souls who work in chaotic emergency departments everywhere who they are and to reconnect them to their pure desire to help others when their help is needed most.

Cheryl is facing a personal crisis right now. She is currently battling a rare cancer. Although she has already undergone major surgery, this weekend she bravely cut her hair, went into the hospital, and had a power port installed. Cheryl is now receiving three days of intense chemotherapy to kill off any remaining cancer cells in her body. When that is through, she will undergo more cycles of toxic chemotherapy to rid her body of the malignant cells that threaten her life.

If there is one thing I know for certain, it is this: There is no greater healing force in this world than a human who can truly feel (if even for a moment) the pain of another. Feeling the pain of someone else, and having the true desire to make it go away, can create miracles.

As Cheryl faces a life threatening challenge this weekend, I can honestly say that I feel her pain as if it were my own. I faced the same feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, when I was diagnosed with cancer. I remember feeling totally abandoned and lost. I remember begging God for help, for healing, and for another chance at life.

Looking back at that critical point in my own life, I realize that my prayer was backwards. I wanted God to spare me from the cancer, to take it away from me, to change my reality so that I did not have to go through the surgeries, the chemo, and the long healing process. Today, I realize that my prayer would have been much more effective if I had asked God for the strength to proactively move through the process to the other side as a whole, healthy and happy individual.

No doubt, I am a changed man because of my journey through illness. The journey was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to endure. But looking back, I would not change a thing. I see there were blessings delivered through the curses. … Today, I am a better version of myself—a happier, more humble, more grateful version of the man I was.

While Cheryl may not be in the emergency room, her life is still in a state of emergency. I know she is in intense pain right now. There is only one thing that I can do, and that is pray that God will provide her with the strength to be full of hope. I can meditate for Cheryl to have the endurance to triumph and embrace whatever lesson this disease is here to show her. And I can envision the day when she will once again feel whole and alive.

I would like to ask: Can you feel her pain? Even though you don’t know her, can you care for her and for those that are going through a similar process? I would like to ask you to please make an effort to connect to her, and others like her, and send them your healing energy. Thank you.

Get your copy of "Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care" at amazon.com

Get your copy of “Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care” at amazon.com

TAKE ACTION

Today, appreciate your life. See your blessings. Realize how lucky you are. Any one of us can have our lives threatened by an illness.

I would like to invite you to try something powerful. Stop and practice TRUECARE by putting the needs of another, someone you don’t even know, in front of your own. Take a moment, and in whatever way you experience your world view, please pray and/or meditate for Cheryl or someone like her.

Just wish the best for them. Ask your higher power to help them, to comfort them, to lead them through their personal despair and to give them the strength they will need to face the challenges that come their way. Envision them as a healthy individual so that they can face a future that is bright.

See how powerful your prayer can be when there is no personal agenda attached, when you want nothing in return. Just desire the best for another person. No doubt, many blessings will show up in your own life as well.

Thank you with all my heart,
Dr. Frank

 

The Process of Happiness

Each Shot of Satisfaction is related to one of the seven steps back from burnout in the process of REFLECT. My hope is that, by sharing with you how I apply these steps in my daily life, it will help you on your journey to a fulfilling life of caregiving.

Originally published November 4th, 2011 – This Shot of Satisfaction relates to Step 3 – FORMULATE your plan. Recalculate the transaction of care using the Perfect Equation. Free yourself from your unconscious actions and outdated agendas.


How can tomorrow be better?

If we want success, we have to step into the process of generating success. If we want health, we need to step into the process of preparing healthy foods and going to the gym, regardless of the number on the scale or the inches on your waistline. Focusing on the process is where we go from knowing to doing. This is where real change occurs. -Dr. Frank

“Ideas are a dime a dozen… but the man who puts them into practice is priceless.”
-Joe Gandolfo

If I know the proper foods to eat and how to exercise, how come I’m overweight, out of shape and unhealthy? If I know how I’m supposed to behave in a relationship, why don’t mine ever work out? If I know what it takes to have a successful business, why is mine always in the red?

We all know how to live our best life, but knowing isn’t enough. Somewhere between knowledge and practice there is a breakdown…

For me, the breakdown happens because I run around all day long reacting to my environment. I am constantly putting out fires, managing chaos, and allowing myself to be the effect of the people and situations in my environment. I am busy fixing or dealing with problems. My thoughts are generated in reaction to my environment and my body. I am on auto-pilot.

The flaw in “if” happiness thinking

Most of us ask for water when we are thirsty. We ask for a relationship when we don’t have one. We ask for health when we are sick. We ask for success when we are unsuccessful. This is because we are so attached to our environment and outcomes. We believe that when we have the car, the job, the girl, the boy, or the diamond, we will be successful and happy. This is effect-oriented living and there will never be any change in our lives when we live this way.

It is time for you and me to be the cause of a new and better reality for ourselves and for those around us. It is time for us to choose the thoughts we will engage. I know this, but until I let go of my attachment to results and surrender to the fact that I have to do the work, put in the effort and engage in the process, I will stay stuck in the same place of knowing and not doing.

Dr. Srikumar Rao, a colleague of ours, is considered a happiness expert.  He maintains that the reason we are all so unhappy in our Western world is because we all buy into a flawed mental model of how the world operates. According to Dr. Rao, it’s like this: we think we have to get something so that we can do something so that we can achieve something so that we can be happy. In short, we believe that if “this” happens, “then” we will be happy.

To see the flaw in this logic, Dr. Rao asks us to questions ourselves. “What did I want 10 years ago?  What was it I thought I needed to be happy?” If we are honest, we will see that we probably got that “thing” – our degree, the car, the house in the suburbs – and we are probably not much happier now than we were then.

Happiness lies in our process

Dr. Rao then asks us to remember times where we had a blissful, peaceful moment. Maybe we stumbled on a breathtaking scene in nature, a waterfall or a rainbow, or we participated in a joyous moment like the birth of a baby. Can you remember what it was like to see your child take their first steps or utter their first word?

Get your copy of "Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care" at amazon.com

Get your copy of “Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care” at amazon.com

Dr. Rao brilliantly points out that in these moments we accept the Universe just as it is. Our habitual wanting of another “thing” drops away and our innate happiness surfaces, and we feel it. Even years later we KNOW we felt it because we can still remember it as if it were yesterday. 

These profound moments in our otherwise ordinary lives allow us to feel perfection despite our problems. These moments show us that happiness, satisfaction and success are in the process and not in the outcome.

When we concern ourselves primarily with end results, we experience frustration, angst and all the emotions that are the antitheses of authentic happiness and satisfaction. The obvious solution is to invest in the process. In life, when we give the process everything we’ve got, our attitude changes.  If we arrive at the destination, great!  If not, still great!

When we live this way, every day is amazing.  If we want success, we have to step into the process of generating success.  If we want health, we need to step into the process of preparing healthy foods and going to the gym, regardless of the number on the scale or the inches on your waistline.  Focusing on the process is where we go from knowing to doing.  This is where real change occurs.  It is the only place where we have to power to be the cause of something new or different or better!

TAKE ACTION

Today, I will choose to be the cause.  Today I will not be the effect of my environment or those in it.  Today I surrender to doing the work, exerting the effort to change, and practice my knowing.  I surrender to the process and trust that the outcome will be better, as long as I stay in the process of thinking, speaking and acting better!  My joy will come from my success in the process.  My victory is in the moment.

All the best!
Dr. Frank

 

Shot of Satisfaction
Antidotes for Burnout and Compassion Fatigue
Thursday, December 17, 2015
A Pot of Gold

Each Shot of Satisfaction is related to one of the seven steps back from burnout in the process of REFLECT. My hope is that, by sharing with you how I apply these steps in my daily life, it will help you on … Continue reading