“If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” – Woodrow Wilson
I am in the middle of change and learning so much about how to greet it. Use it. That’s right, change is occurring, and I have the choice of it happening to me, change being thrust upon me, or I can greet it. Dance with it. Use it, even.
- “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” —Woodrow Wilson
I think Woodrow Wilson was musing about his attempts to serve as a change agent in that quote. A Patient Advocate who advocates on behalf of someone who may not have a strong voice or may intercede in tricky situations has a certain understanding of change.
There are changes in patients and in their loved ones, too. There are changes in systems and laws, and government. There is change within our own selves, the moving targets that we humans all are. In my professional work meeting, change requires strategy and having change tactics at the ready.
How does one “greet change”? Change can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. We all experience it in our own unique ways.
“We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are.” – Max Depree.
A very small part of me wishes I’d never read that quote by Max Dupree. But a bigger part knows it to be true.
What happens with the Patient Advocate that feels a need to change? I’ve been experiencing a calling to change again. It began as a rumble and a recognition. Something seemed “off” to me, for me and it was brought forward by reading Max’s “We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are.”
I had been happier than I’d ever been before, working as a Patient Advocate, founding and operating what I laughingly called a “small but mighty agency,” and becoming a mentor in my industry. When the pandemic hit, I tightened the girth, did more to amplify outreach in new and different ways, and ramped up the education factor. We all went through massive change, did we not? Yet I did not feel quite “quenched” somehow by trying harder or working longer.
I remembered an earlier time in my life, a low point during which I was both struck by and encouraged by the words of a friend. He’d said, “Nancy, you have the opportunity to re-engineer yourself.” Hearing that, I did. That reengineering story is still with me, motivating me and reminding me of the option.
Since something was “off,” it seemed time for self-assessment. What did I like and do well? Was I gaining the results I wanted, personally and professionally? Uh, no, not really.
I thought long and hard about what I am on this earth to do.
What was my mission? I thought long and hard about what I am on this earth to do. My purpose. I know now that is to help others, those who may not have a voice, who are stuck or stymied and are in need to solid information to make good decisions. To be there and be a soundboard for folks making new decisions. To journey with, for a time, looking forwards and backward on the path to spot influences and obstacles. To use strategy and savvy to help folks get to where they need to be.
How could I better do that and regain some of the work-life balance I’d given up during my fervor to serve? I’d allowed my work to consume, lost sight of self-care, and feared burnout. In order to be the best I could be for others then, change was inevitable. I’d gone overboard, and I needed to simplify.
I needed rest, yet I needed to fulfill my purpose. I love working. How could I re-engineer things and keep my mission?
Turns out it was “the Hows” (how I work, how I fashion and deliver services) that needed tweaking. I could keep my intent, my purpose, and my mission by using change. I could see and use change as a tool or a vehicle. Change didn’t have to come down upon me, happen to me, force me, but rather I could use it. Meet it. Use change TO change, or “lean in,” as has been a popular saying.
That realization was in keeping with one of my favorite sayings (and those of you who know me can hear this one coming…)
“Out of the Problem and Into the Solution.”
I could do it. Greet change, re-engineer, and live within my mission still. Nancy gets out the whiteboard. Countless pages of the flipchart were decorated with ideas, Must Haves, and Hows.
The advice of a select few trusted advisors was sought, and from that came objective eyes and encouragement. My team queried: “What jazzes you up (and how can you use that)? “Does this feed your soul?” is an important consideration. I also recalled a conversation long ago that instructed me to be sure to build in “Joy Camp” (Thanks, George).
Change seemed right. Re-engineering was the way. Change could be accomplished that would enable me to continue to use my experience to help others in ways that were meaningful to the Help-ee and the Help-er.
“Change is the only constant in life.” –Heraclitus
What I also realized was that I’ve been forever in change. Here is how I knew it: Many of you have heard me tell the story about the genesis of my agency, NAVIGATE NC. I talk of working for an EAP (Employee Assistance Program, an employer’s insurance, and benefits program) where my job was to respond to phone inquiries. I’d answer the call and provide much of what I do now: Intake > Assessment > Research > Referral (and sadly, “buh-bye”). There’d be no closure for me, no knowing if the person was connected with solution. For me, that grew to be a missing link.
It compelled me to found an agency where I would perform those same vital interventions at the inquiry and pilot clients to solutions and remedies. I would journey with, see people through, and that felt great. I would be there to help and support if problems arose, shore things up, or suggest a Plan B when needed. It made a difference, I’m told.
I thought this new phase of my business must capitalize on that, and add more. One option that kept coming forward was online consulting (and teaching and speaking) to further the reach, and get the information out to more folks. I can use my grasp of the online tools made more common by the pandemic in an efficient and more productive manner. To do that is to play into change, alright.
“Life is change … Growth is optional … Choose wisely.” -Karen Kaiser Clark
My decision: I will consult online exclusively. I am closing my agency for nearly a decade, not because it doesn’t serve but rather enables me to better serve. I will work exclusively in consultation by way of one-to-one services, speaking and teaching, mentoring, and collaboration with other organizations.
I will still serve
Patients, Elders, and loved ones – navigation to include Medical, Legal, Financial, Insurance, Housing, and Support
Adult Children of Aging Parents – Help with the above, for the first foray, or for those stuck or stymied, and long-distance caregiving challenges
Solo Agers – fostering successful aging for persons aging without the support of built-in family as caregiving (Let’s build your team!)
Small Business Entrepreneurs in startup – coaching to gain new clients and grow their businesses
Serve, I can always get behind the idea of service! Helping and educating with the Whys and Hows is a big part of that. The honor of being able to journey with someone for a time, often a pivotal time, is rewarding to me. Service delivery as a Patient Advocate myself, for and with clients, is so very gratifying. Then there is the change and growth inside my industry to embrace, as I also hold dear the opportunities to work within Patent Advocacy by mentoring others and collaborating with my professional organizations. It is gratifying work, to move the needle in big and little ways.
Me and Change, we’re having a Meet ‘n Greet!
Re-engineering includes building in time to help family and friends and reinstall self-care. During all this, I am to relocate, also. May as well, since I am in this change mode. I am ripping off the proverbial bandaids, I’ll tell you.
I’m fueled, in fact, I’m stoked. I have YOU (so grateful). I have support, I have solid plans, and I will be well-positioned to better serve. This change is for all the right reasons in my book: to further my reach, be more productive with time, to do what I do best.
Web-wise, NAVIGATE NC (dot) com website will change to nancyruffner.com. You’ll see similar changes in other social media. For example, the NAVIGATE NC Facebook page will merge with and become Nancy Ruffner Patient Advocate – Aging Expert. I will still offer Complimentary Consultations, and I welcome the opportunity to discuss presenting at your next conference or online event.
I am so very thankful for all of you. You inspire and motivate me to be better! I am inviting you now to continue our journey together and help each other learn and grow. Let’s meet our change, and go forward together.
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. ” – Mother Teresa
Let’s greet change together. I am a Patient Advocate and Aging Expert offering individual consultation toward patient advocacy, healthcare navigation, and successful aging. Complimentary Consultations are available. Now booking speaking engagements for 2023 events and conferences. nancyruffner.com