The month of March 2013 brought me more opportunities than I remember in a long time to think about the reasons I do the work I do – why I have chosen my profession, what I hope to get out of it, and what drives me to want to build its success – and your success, too.
Why now? Well, frankly, even though I am not Catholic, it started with the election of a new pope. Throughout the discussions leading up to the Conclave, then the election of Pope Francis, much of the emphasis was on the passion the job required; that it wasn’t just about being a leader, it was about heart and commitment. (And whether or not you care one wit about the election of this new pope, whether or not you agree with the tenets he stands for, it’s clear to see the man is a new kind of leader, and most definitely has passion and commitment.)
As the pioneers who have started a movement in patient or health advocacy, it’s the same for us. We are leaders. We lead with our passion. We are wholly committed to success – both the success our clients will find in their journeys, and the success we hope to find with our practices. The “passion” aspects are very different from most professions, and it’s what makes us unique. How many other professions are rooted in passion and heart?
Then Passover came along.
Over the years, I’ve had many opportunities to talk about Passover with my Jewish friends. To me, one of the most important themes in Passover is the tenacity and strength of the Jews who overcame their slavery in Egypt. That tenacity and strength helped the Jews triumph – and it’s what helps us, as advocates, triumph on behalf of our clients, too.
My own spiritual beliefs include Easter, and the celebration of Jesus rising from the dead to show the world how much God loves us. But we have to remember what put Jesus in that position; why it was that he was nailed to a cross. It was a system that could not embrace his teaching about love – one that didn’t have room to allow for a different way of believing or doing things. And while they might have tried to kill Jesus, they could not kill the message – a message of compassion and fairness – the Golden Rule.
It’s a great metaphor for our work as advocates. We are working to overcome a similarly rigid system – a healthcare system which destroys too many lives in order to protect the sanctity of – what? It’s own bureaucracy? It’s own profitability? As advocates, we are called to begin re-infusing compassion and fairness back into the system.
And so it is, this Easter weekend, that I find myself contemplating the “calling” aspects of our work as advocates. Not unlike the disciples, we advocates are called to preach and practice the gospel of compassion and fairness.
Over these past 8+ years, many people have called my work a calling – and so they are right. I have passion for it, the heart for it, I provide leadership, I have tenacity, strength and commitment to my work…
And so do MANY of YOU.
You have shared your stories with me – the tragedies of loss, or the frustration of constraints, the roadblocks, the mistakes, the anger and the compassion. Those of you who come to advocacy work because you don’t want others to have to suffer from the atrocities of a dysfunctional healthcare system. You want to improve outcomes of the journey others must make.
In the coming years, there will be many people who choose advocacy as a career because it will be a wonderful profession.
But for today, in these early years, many of us are blessed to feel as if we have been called to this work, perhaps by a higher power, or perhaps by our own passion for improving the lives of others and protecting them from the experiences we have had ourselves.
Is your advocacy work a calling? Do you feel compelled by pressures outside of yourself to help others? Will you share your stories here?
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