Day: September 2, 2019

Principle: Being


Amidst ever-changing schedules, tasks, responsibilities, and the busyness of LIVING, it can be easy to overlook one of our most salient purposes: Being. When we encourage ourselves to slow down, take a deep breath, and just Be, we allow ourselves to Be present in the Moment, unlock and reveal our greatest strengths, Connect deeply with others, and revel in the beauty all around us. Remember that we are human Beings, not human doings. 

Despite how easy it sounds, Being doesn’t just happen — it is a practice; thus, it takes attention, mindfulness, and commitment. As leaders, when we slow down, listen, and engage, we are communicating to team members that they matter and that our  organizations are dedicated to LIVING our Intention — Being who we intend to Be. Encouraging Being also promotes wellness, creativity, individuality, and strength.

How Being Fits into LIVING

As we practice Being, we allow our genuine, authentic selves to shine through and are LIVING our lives to the fullest. When we allow ourselves to just Be, we not only encourage full presence in each Moment, we also honor the deeply emotional and complex Experiences that occur in health care every day: complex and critical processes, challenging diagnoses and treatments, Joyous beginnings and transformations. When we acknowledge each human Being in all of their Being, we instill humanity, LOVE, and life into our work.

Being: Human

A manifesto on LIVING, this brilliant video explores the deeply personal desires of the artist to LIVE a deep, wonder-filled, passionate, and beautiful life.

“Living is difficult.
It is full of sticky situations and exceptions to truisms.
But you don’t need it to be spelled out in a book to live by strong moral principle.
I want to be the best person that I can be.
I want to do well by people, to love deeply and be loved deeply.
I want the best life I can get, to be excited to wake up in the morning.
I want to think about existence, to stretch and bruise my brain through learning, to raise children who love learning, who are confident and open, and love others.
I want to pass to them as many of my pros and as few of my cons as possible.
I want to laugh, to enjoy the pleasures of food and travel and art and literature, to see great sunsets and be thrashed by great storms.
I want to shiver with wonder and awe at the universe, and nature, to sob at the absurd unbearable brightness of human existence, to glow red in the heat of human triumphs, and shake my head in shame and disbelief at our broken record failures.
I want to be stirred by music, to be broken by drama.
I want to live forever, and I see the appeal of slipping away eventually into the eternal quiet.
A human lifetime is a seasonal growth of a tiny twig of the human branch of the mammal limb of the tree of life.
It is a carnival ride and a game of dice.
The low bar is survival, the high bar is progress, and the taste of brie and sound of children’s laughter are the sustaining fuel keeping us aloft through the surprises of each fresh day.”

(*Please note that while we love the message conveyed in this video, we also recognize that it does not appropriately represent the beauty of the full spectrum of humanity and wish it were more inclusive. Let’s take this as a spark to prompt us to consider whether our printed, video, or digital imagery fully represents who we are.)

Write down or think about our organizational manifestos. What are our musts for LIVING? What honors and lifts up the human Beings we LEAD and serve?

All Aboard!

Onboarding new team members into our cultures and organizations is the first opportunity we have to demonstrate how to LIVE within our teams and how to Be –  how to be oriented and how to be integrated into the way of the work. Onboarding exemplars such as Zappos, Twitter, and Facebook have discovered and incorporated creative ways to authentically display what it means to be a member of their teams. From two-month coding bootcamps and culture skits, to individual mentoring and a “pay to quit” program, each organization approaches the onboarding process through a fresh lens to ensure that new team members understand and are ready to LIVE out their organizations’ missions and aspirations.

 When we invest in the onboarding Experience, it allows us the opportunity to welcome team members into both their skill fit and also their culture fit. Immersive onboarding provides new team members a clear understanding of what roles and tasks they are expected to perform, as well as expectations and examples for how they will act and feel as a part of the larger team. And, to ensure a cohesive feeling across the organization, it is critical for everyone who represents our organization or brand to receive this cultural onboarding, so including contracted partners, freelancers, and volunteers in the Experience is key.

Let’s examine the onboarding processes within our organizations. Do they set team members up for success and demonstrate how we hope they will Be? How might we ensure true integration rather than just orientation across the organization, from environmental services to contracted providers?

Being Artwork

What do a billowing, vibrant net and a large crocheted tree have in common? They both invite us to slow down, interact, and LIVE life to the fullest. Wildly inventive and thought-provoking, these two massive public art pieces by sculptors Janet Echelman and Ernesto Neto honor the presence, Being, and existence of those interacting with them. Both pieces are designed to be in constant motion and seem to breathe along with their viewers, pulling them in and inviting them to Be.

Neto’s hand-crocheted, 65-foot tree, which was on display in the Zürich train station last year, was affixed with 1,300 bags of aromatic spices so that as travelers moved through the station, they were greeted with a sensory Experience that was grounding, rooting, and encouraged them to slow down. The scent of turmeric, cloves, cumin, and black pepper provided a respite amidst the hectic travel hub.

Echelman’s pieces of colorful nets, which have been featured in some of the most visited spaces in the world, are purposefully hung so that they shift and change with the movement of the air around them. As she said in this interview with the Smithsonian, “I wanted the visitor to be within the work. The piece aims to show how interconnected our world is, when one element moves, every other element is affected.”

How might we introduce elements into our health care spaces that encourage others to interact and slow down? Be it a water feature, an art piece, or a sensory Experience, how can we honor the breath and life of our team members, providers, patients, and guests?

To Be, Or Not to Be

One part of Being that can’t be denied is that one day, we will no longer Be. Michael Hebb realized that most Americans simply don’t think about how they want to die and created the non-profit organization Death Over Dinner to get us talking about it. Death Over Dinner is dedicated to helping normalize talking about death and dying by hosting gatherings to have facilitated discussions in a safe space: at the dinner table. Participants in these empowering dinners discuss their wishes, their worries, and consider the fact that while most Americans want to die at home, 75% die in hospitals. Paradoxically, all this talk about death results in a sense of renewed vitality for gatherers. Hear Hebb’s inspiration and reasoning for yourself in this short video.

Death is not only an inevitable part of our individual lives, it’s an inevitable part of our journeys as health care professionals. How do we encourage those on our teams and in our patient rooms to have the important and difficult conversations around death and dying? How might we assist in honoring a patient or family’s wishes and serve as advocates in those precious life Moments?

A Story We’ve All Heard

How we design and orient our places of LIVING and work greatly affects how easy it is for us to Be (Download a PDF version here). Architect Ryan Mullenix and developmental molecular biologist John Medina partnered to design some of the most creative and wellness-focused office spaces for the likes of Samsung and Amazon. Their inspiration? Neuroscience. Elements of sound, nature, open space, movement, and food all have great effects on our ability to be productive, stress free, engaged, alert, and safe. In order to create spaces that allow team members to do their jobs to the best of their ability, Mullenix and Medina incorporate these elements into all of their projects.

What elements of sound, nature, open space, movement, and food are activated in our places of work? Where are there areas where we can better design to allow for our team members, providers, patients, and guests to Be?

In the Spotlight: Jeff Zlotnik

For this month of Being, we are joined by Jeff Zlotnik, Founder and CEO of The Meditation Initiative. For more than 15 years Jeff has been LEADING free meditations – sharing techniques and simple tools to bring calm, peace, and presence in the Moment to prisons, hospitals, students, wounded warriors and the community at large.

Jeff believes that, “once we stop trying to change everything outside of us and we work on changing our mind and our heart and our reaction to the world around us, life gets a little easier, a little more peaceful, a little happier.”

What does the principle of Being mean to you?
Often I think people make the mistake of thinking that just Being means that you don’t do anything, but the practice of mindfulness and meditation is about bringing that sense of Being into every environment you’re in – it’s simple, applicable, and practical. To me, Being means first Being present and aware. That awareness helps us tap into what we’re sitting with. Where’s my heart right now? Where’s my mind right now? Am I steady? Am I fully present at this Moment? Paying attention to the Moment and that personal awareness go hand in hand with Being. But if we‘re just Being and our mind or heart is filled with anger, hatred, disgust or resentment, then Being has the potential to be not so beautiful. The reality is an angry person who meditates is just an angry meditator.

Often, even though we are trying to Be present, we are thinking about other things, we’re worried about tomorrow. This is when we need to slow everything down. To pay attention to the breath. To become comfortable in stillness, expecting nothing, simply sit and breathe. And as we Experience that quiet and stillness – that peace and calm, the question is, how do we take this idea of Being, becoming aware of feelings, sensations and emotions, and then bring that to everything that we’re doing. How do we bring that sense of Being into action?

The beauty of meditation is that it’s free. You have everything you need with you at all times, it only takes a few minutes, and it can be practiced anywhere – in line at Starbucks…before a meeting…anywhere.

Any time you do anything that is free and that can be done anywhere, it makes it a lot easier for people to add it into their lives. So a lot of it is really breaking down the barriers of what I think really hinders the movement of the mindfulness practice in this country. People tend to tie it to a dollar sign or think they don’t have the time or need to go somewhere special, but we all have a few minutes we can sit and breathe. So my role is about encouraging, motivating and inspiring people to make that a part of their lives. We don’t have to go any place special to Experience this sacred sense of Being. We have to learn to illuminate and Be everywhere.

What advice do you have for health care leaders as it relates to this principle of Being?
I like the simple metaphor from flying on a plane when they provide the safety instructions: “if the oxygen mask falls, put your mask on first before helping a child or someone else.” I think for health care providers, those who are in the industry of caring for others, the most important thing you can do is to care for yourself every day — your mental and emotional health and well-Being. You are engaging with so many people who really need and require you to Be present, attentive, compassionate, and kind with them. To bring your full sense of Being to those you care for, it’s important to give yourself that beautiful gift of really caring for yourself a few Moments each day. Make yourself a priority. Take a few minutes to check in with yourself, sit with yourself, and just Be with yourself.

To Experience Jeff’s simple practice of Being, enjoy his TEDxYouth@SanDiego talk where he equips high school students from hundreds of high schools across the globe with the gift of Being.