Throughout life, you are sure to encounter various challenges. We don’t desire that but you have to be realistic. Life wouldn’t be life without challenges. This past week, my wife and I started to face our most recent one.
I mention my wife often in my writing because I am so fortunate to have her in my life. As a couple, we balance each other. I tend to be outspoken, gregarious, eager to meet strangers, and someone who questions rules. She is stable, thoughtful, enjoys rules and structure, and warms up to people after meeting them a few times. There are other facets of our personalities that you could categorize as opposite – and that works for us.
She has always been supportive of my drive to be creative and always on the go just in case I can meet someone new. If I were someone who chose to spend their life with me, I’d wonder at times what I signed up for. On the other hand, she brings order and peace, which is incredibly attractive !! So, when she had knee replacement surgery last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to take care of her once again.
I say “again” because, in the past, she’s had extensive foot surgery, two shoulder surgeries, and now a knee. She’s decided to become bionic which is keeping her healthy and will give us more years to do life together. (One quick note, I read every blog I write to her before I publish it. She knows the topic and we aren’t breaking any HIPAA privacy rules.) Everything went smoothly and was successful. I was amazed that something so major is now an outpatient procedure !!
We came home and got her set up to start the road to recovery. I am there to assist her with actions she normally would do on her own. When I mentioned that Debbie was going to have surgery in my men’s group, I said, “I get to be her caregiver.” One of my friends corrected me. He said, “Be a care partner because you’re in this together.” That truly struck me.
Being a care partner is such a different perspective because it’s not one-sided and reminds you that more than one person is involved. This doesn’t lessen the challenge you both face, but it gives you more confidence that you can be a team to work through it together. It’s only been a few days into recuperation, but we’ve been taking the care partner approach and it’s made a huge difference.
While Debbie has been resting, I had time to contemplate. As a “partner,” you find yourself focused on others which runs contrary to what the world expects. We’re taught to be fiercely independent and stand on our own. However, I believe we are wired to be present and empathetic to others – always. This is true when you’re given the chance to care for a spouse, a partner, a parent, a child, a friend, a relative, and even a stranger.
You can be someone who chooses to care instead of being someone who chooses to avoid or deflect. We really don’t know what’s going on in the lives of the people we work with. Rarely do people take the time to be that open or vulnerable. I’m not calling for people to be more open, but I am encouraging you to be more mindful that EVERYONE you encounter has some form of “life” going on at every moment.
Acknowledging this will change your approach and lead you to be more caring and empathetic. In fact, it’s needed if you want to lead effectively. Self-centeredness only ends up tearing people apart. I’ve tried to be someone who models empathy and care at home, at work and everywhere I’ve been connected to other people. I was fortunate to see this modeled by my parents and extended family. It’s what I’ve known and what I hope to show and see in others.
This week look around to see where you can become a care partner. The opportunities are there. Step in, lend a hand, and see how those relationships grow and move forward !!