Friday, September 03, 2010

Green & Stretchy

I'm working on Labor Day and like hospitals everywhere, we are planning a potluck. If we must work, we will at least eat our way through the day. This job has really stretched me, sometimes to the point of being pretty sure I was going to snap. I left a Monday through Friday hourly position for a salary job that requires 60 hours a week of responsibility and rotating weekends. I went from being in charge of my shift and my team to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with a bunch of direct reports. I had mastered my domain, a 38 bed unit. Now there are days when I am the only administrator in a 100 bed hospital. Strreetttcchhhh!
I've had to step up my game in a lot of areas which I expected. Learned lots of new stuff, also expected. Make mistakes along the way, guaranteed. But one of the most surprising lessons has been the part not where I work harder or take on greater responsibilities. I've also learned a lesson or two about boundaries.
For instance, I'm on 24 hour call and have to carry a Blackberry. For the longest time every time that phone rang I'd grab it on the first ring and then do my darndest to solve the problem on the other end of the line. Three years later, that's not how I handle it. After I get home, the Blackberry goes to voice mail. I retrieve my messages immediately after they are received and then I decide if the matter needs my immediate attention. For a while I would return every call, now the staff knows my expectations. No detailed message, no call back. Do NOT leave me a "Call us back." and expect me to call you back. My time, my life are important too. I get to decide how much of myself to share. And I'm comfortable drawing those lines. It doesn't mean I don't do my job, it means I will be the one to dictate how I do it.
I've also stretched by learning to do the things that go against my personality without resenting it. Salary means from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., I'm the supervisor. So if I've been there eight hours at 4:00 but there's something going on, I'm there for the duration. That used to make me nuts. I'd clench my jaw and watch the clock and be aggravated for the rest of the evening. Not any more. I recognize the perks as well as the demands so on those late days, I just make myself a cup of tea and take a deep breath and move on.
But maybe all of the stretching and learning can be expressed in the most recent challenge. I work in Detroit, in a predominantly black area with a predominantly African American staff. I have been awarded an honorary black card in case you're wondering. Back to Labor Day and our potluck. My assignment? Greens. Seriously, greens. My first question was, what exactly is a green?
The old un-stretched me might have been silly enough to ask for a different assignment, something familiar. This one? I had one of the staff call his Granny and put her on speaker phone and I got her recipe for greens. I'm not promising anything, but I'm stretching again.
Did you know the more you stretch, the less you ache?
It's about more than muscles, it's about life.

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