“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” – II Timothy 2:15
These are the words that I needed to read this morning, these are the words that one of my Assisted Living residents handed to me this morning as I was making rounds at 6:30 am through the Post Acute Dining Room in preparation for Day 2 of our Annual Survey from the Department of Aging and Disability Services. This process is the Kona or World Series of my chosen profession. Every 9-15 months, every “nursing home,” in the land has an unannounced ‘survey’ based on Federal and State Regulations. Ours started on Sunday morning as I was standing at the Bike Mount Line of the Ironman 70.3 Austin in Austin, TX where I had just spent the past 4 hrs as a volunteer, watching fearless athletes climb out of Lake Walter E Long after swimming 1.2 miles in impossible conditions only to jump on their bike to tackle a 56 mile bike ride followed up by a 13.1 mile run. 5 of those athletes were my friends, 4 of which where making their first attempt at this monster endeavor. I had seen courage beyond belief as these athletes struggled to clip-in, fell over, and continued on despite the odds.
Just as the last competitor was crossing the bike mount line, my cell phone rang… “Four surveyors had arrived at work, what should we do?” Thus began a race of my own, frantic phone calls and text messages as I tried to rally my team to come into work on a beautiful Sunday morning and the scramble to get back on the shuttle and then back to the hotel to collect my things and start the excruciating 3 hr drive from Austin to Dallas. I found myself in a position I don’t like to be in, a position where I was not in control; I had to trust my team.
So many things raced through my mind as I worked on setting a PR for fastest drive, with one bathroom stop, between Austin and Dallas. I was upset, sad, nervous, stressed, adrenaline raced through me. I resented my profession because it had once again upset my plans – I was letting my friends down because I wouldn’t be at the finish line cheering for them. I was letting my team down because I had gone out of town right in the sweet spot of our survey window. How could I have miscalculated like this, I was the master of control and now I had control over nothing; but for a few phone calls asking questions about where to find this list and that file.
So here we are, Monday morning; my last survey at my previous employer had not been a good one. Our survey team was tough and I had been suspect number 1. I was nervous, scared I would let my team down; that I was facing a repeat of last year’s failure. I messaged two fierce women asking for their support. I needed my own personal cheering section, I had to be strong I had to be brave; I had to push through just like those athletes did yesterday, just like the man who was taking a moment at the bike mount line. When we asked if he was okay he told us he was completing his first 70.3 at the age of 61. Like my friend who struggled through the swim, only to fall hard off her bike but got herself back up and tackled a very challenging bike route.
And then this morning, those words fell into my hands; the words I needed to read. The words that reminded me that my job, my work is a gift. That I owe it to my team, my residents to do my best; but I also owe it to myself. There are times when the balance of work and life won’t be even; but what I learned this weekend was that I can step away and my team will rise to the occasion and I need to give them the space to step up. As I contemplate my own half Ironman in April and possibly a full Ironman, I have to learn that there will be so many things that I can’t control and that’s okay. What I can control is how I respond and that I do my best and that just like my 5 fierce friends who finished Ironman 70.3 Austin under challenging circumstances, that I finish strong.