Every day in the workplace, it is my responsibility to make sure things are done, and done correctly. There are good days, bad days and certainly indifferent days, whereas the staff is just scraping the surface of getting the job done. Let’s face it. The work nursing assistants perform is physically demanding, emotionally challenging and overall, backbreaking. The lift, tug, pull and push their way through the duties of transferring the residents from bed to chair, chair to chair, chair to toilet, and finally chair back to bed. They struggle with the physically aggressive resident who spits, hits and kicks….but yet the job must be completed. I have the luxury of sitting in my office on a soft chair while staring at the computer screen…moving numbers around on a spreadsheet, ordering supplies, arranging food delivery trucks, and making sure the staff has everything they need to do their jobs.
When I do leave the “Ivory Tower” and walk the halls, I find myself pointing out to the staff things that are not done. I bark orders, telling them who needs to be shaved, demanding to know why meal remnants are still not swept up and why the staff is leaning against the wall “taking a break.” After all, it’s my job to make sure they are doing their jobs, right?
Tonight when I was driving into my neighborhood, something caught my eye. A man was standing outside of his home, watering his flowers and trees. Nothing unusual about that. My entire neighborhood is very serious about their lawns….borderline obsessed with mulching, weed-killing, fertilizing and mowing pretty little designs in their lawn. What was unusual was his method of watering the plants.
As I pulled up along side of him, the sound of the power washer drowned out my yelling over to him. “Hey Josh, Josh, Josh”, I yelled. Finally he noticed my stalking behavior and turned the loud rumbling machine off.
” What are you doing?” I asked. ” Are you seriously using a power washer to water your plants? Seriously dude? “
He laughed as he explained. ” Well, when you get home, and spend 30 minutes untangling your garden hose, move it around countless time, stop to unkink it every five minutes, turn on and place your sprinklers in the right location, my watering will be done; my plants will be happy and I will be on the couch with my family. Sometimes its not about how we get things done, but rather what we choose to make a priority in our life. Do you see any difference between my yard and yours?”
I looked down the street, seeing my wilting bushes, tan grass and spruce trees leaning a little to the left……” Your yard looks great Josh, I was just teasing….” I said as I pulled away, not wishing to further engage in chit chat about lawns.
Priorities. Each day we each go to our jobs with a list of things we must accomplish. When I sit at my desk, mentally I run through the list of what must be done today, and today alone, choosing to leave other task for another day. Yet, when I take command out on the units, I point out things such as unswept floors, cluttered areas and men with a five o’clock shadows. What I do not point out to the staff is how nice the residents look, how wonderful it was to see the residents laughing with the staff, how beautiful the ladies fingernails looked after the staff gave them manicures…..I don’t point out how kind it was to see a staff member hugging a resident who can not find her husband who has been dead for 10 years….I overlook the staff member sitting with the resent who tells the same story over and over and over and over again………….yet, I point out all the things that NEED to be done. Floors swept, men shaved……
Maybe Josh is right. I will spend a great amount of time unraveling my hose, straightening out the kinks, moving sprinklers……all for the the sake of a lawn. I will get so caught up on how things appear on the outside, that I lose time with whats important on the inside.
I think we could all learn a lesson from power washing our lawns. Whether it is in our professional lives or our home life, we should establish what is really important…..we should focus on people, not things…..careful to acknowledge humanity with kindness, love and respect …..getting our priorities straight.
Tonight, on the outside of my house, the grass is still tan. The spruces or whatever they are, are leaning a little to the right..….the funny little clover grass is sprouting up…but I had dinner with my family….followed by a game of rummy……………Life is good, on the inside.