Living Your Mission

March 10, 2016

Welcome to the new generation of hospice education and connection with and for hospice and healing professionals! Today’s Flight of Ideas Community topic is Living your MISSION.

Here at Wings of Change, we are quite familiar with the jobs that you do . . . because we, too, have walked in your shoes– as hospice professionals, as therapists, and as writers.  Your clients and patients continue to have needs, you continue to want to meet them well, and we all continue to meet the demands of our industry on a daily basis.  Working in helping and healing fields can leave us wonderfully energized or it can leave us feeling stressed, deflated, and pressured for time and ideas.

Many years ago, I taught a class on writing a personal mission statement to hospice professionals.  We brainstormed about values and concepts and behaviors, and how we could work them into a statement that encompassed them all.  We hung our mission statements proudly in our cubicles as a reminder of how we could “walk the talk.”

Fast-forward several months – while the mission statement was helpful, I felt the pulls of something close to guilt when I would look at the mission statement, which held these (what sometimes felt like) lofty goals, and there were days at work when I felt like a failure for not living my mission well.  I had high expectations of myself, and when I couldn’t meet them every day, looking at that personal mission statement brought up this feeling of personal failure. I love human behavior, so I started to examine why. Hospice is full of sensitive people – and for the most part, this serves the agency well, because sensitive people at the bedside help the agency mission – they treat patients and families with kindness, they are empathetic, and they anticipate and meet the needs of our hospice clientele. 

In short, many of us are sensitive to the needs of others and that makes us excellent hospice workers. However, fill a room with sensitive hospice co-workers, and you are bound to run into a few electric storms where emotions run high, feelings are hurt, and misunderstandings occur.  Sometimes the drama of the office (in any industry) can be a “mission-buster” and we stray from our personal mission statements when we are sucked into the high emotions of what sometimes isn’t even our situation.  As empathetic people we feel deeply for others and want the best for them.

I started to see this more clearly, and as I was reading Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke, I stumbled upon this bit of wisdom: …I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903 in Letters to a Young Poet I suddenly understood that this personal mission statement isn’t something that I already am, it is something that I am becoming. 

The wise words of this classic taught me a new formula for living:  I stopped judging myself about whether I was already there, and started living with curiosity while seeing myself as a student of life.  We are all working toward, or shall I say living toward, achieving our mission.  Our personal values comprise our mission.  Our attempts to live the mission are the fruits of our lives.   

For years, I have grappled with how I can live my mission and be in integrity with my values in my career.  Hospice was a beautiful platform for learning these lessons about myself, and it provided me the opportunity to explore, and serve, many aspects and arenas of the hospice world. 

Wings of Change Publications was the fruit of this self-introspection, once I was able to be in touch with my own strengths, dislikes, and needs.  The company name and mission was born out of this sacred space.  I had a knowing that my next steps must allow me to live in integrity with my values – and a knowing that it must serve the greater good. As a privately owned, founder-led company, we are able to nurture the relationships that we develop with our clients and remain responsive to their needs.  We are true to our mission – embracing life’s transitions through the written word – because conveying empathy and compassion through your end-of-life educational materials is the transforming resource by which healing occurs.  We simply provide the platform where (emotional, spiritual, and physical) healing conversations begin.

Part of our mission here at Wings of Change is to provide a place where we can support each other and exchange ideas.  Until you have worked in the field, you cannot imagine how fun and funny it can be, how deep the days can go, how full your plate can be to overflowing.  This is the place to share it all—funny stories, great ideas, new tips and tricks, and ask questions your friends cannot possibly understand. 

We can’t wait to hear your comments and ideas and connect with you at the heart level, the place that keeps you in the field in spite of the stressors it sometimes brings. Please, share your thoughts in the comments section!   We love hearing from you, our experts in the field:

  • What is your highest value?
  • Referring to Rilke’s quote, how do you “love the questions” and how have you “lived into” your own answers?
  • How do you carry out your mission in the midst of experiencing “mission-busters?”
  • What has your hospice work taught you about yourself and the development of your personal values?




6 Responses

Rebecca Wallace
Rebecca Wallace

June 06, 2017

Anna, thank you for your kind words. What a blessing to have the support of others! Bravery comes on waves, but leaning into the fear yields much needed experience and growth.

Anna Lehrke
Anna Lehrke

June 06, 2017

Beautiful. In striving to live our mission, we encourage others who witness the struggle and bravery required. We are reminded that the journey is rarely a straight line with clear markings. Rather at times circling back, moving to the left or right, and wondering if we’re moving at all. Just keep living the questions and trusting the compass in our heart, which pays no mind to what the path looks like to the world who would have us choose again and again only what is safe and reasonable. I heard recently that in Native wisdom, what it means to be an educated person is to know what your gift is and how to give it on behalf of the people and world. Your brave heart and fine education is clear in your life, work and writing, for sure!

Kathy
Kathy

June 06, 2017

I have learned and am still learning how to live the questions. What a profound quote I was given by a wise colleague. My years in the hospice field have taught me much and I hope it will continue. I think the day that I stop being the student will be my danger signal. So many calls as a bereavement coordinator, leaving messages, not knowing if they are received. Just today I found one of my bereaved clients who had not answered his phone. Internally, I received my message to ask questions of his family. So I phoned his son and I heard the story of his move from home to hospital to assisted living apartment. I was told that he was very out of sorts and may not remember me. I went because I knew I was supposed to. When I arrived and he saw me, his face lit up and he asked why I would go through so much to find him. My reply was, because you have so many of the answers deep within you and I hope that together, we can find your way back home to yourself. He began again to talk about his losses, wife, health, home. As he began to tire, he said, “I’m so glad you found me. It’s so important to have someone who really hears you.” Ahhhhh, live the question. Together we’ll live it. This is how I measure my “success.” By a response of the heart.

Rebecca Wallace
Rebecca Wallace

June 06, 2017

Thank you Deborah for sharing your reflections with us! We love hearing from those at the bedside, and we agree that the journey is the destination. How fortunate are those who have you to companion them during this time in their lives. Please stay in touch!

Deborah
Deborah

June 06, 2017

My hospice work has taught me to have patience. I feel an urgency to achieve my mission and reach my goals soon. But, being a witness to the depths of a human life, the complicated feelings and attachments, and the magnificent energies that propels life toward its end, has taught me that the journey is truly the destination. I am now patient knowing that, living with love and integrity into the questions, all will unfold in its time.

Rebecca Wallace
Rebecca Wallace

June 06, 2017

Kathy,
Thank you for sharing your life-changing experiences – what a beautiful response your client gave you! These are precious moments indeed. Thank you for the important work that you do!

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