Editor’s Note

Is Speaking Up in Your Nature?

Surely you've heard the tale about the scorpion (or poisonous snake) that asks a frog (or turtle) for a ride across a river. The frog is reluctant, fearing the scorpion will attack it. But its fears are relieved when the scorpion points out that should it sting the frog, both of them would drown. So the frog obliges, and halfway across the river, the scorpion stings. As they both start to drown, the frog asks why the scorpion doomed them both. The scorpion replies, “It is in my nature.”

While I have never worked as a complex rehab technology or DME provider, a clinician or a manufacturer rep, I've been reporting on these industries for nearly 10 years, so I think I have a pretty good idea of what is in your nature.

Raise your hand if any of these sound familiar:

  • You started (or continue) in this industry because you love the ability to make a hands-on, direct and significant difference in people's lives.
  • The company you work for was born because the owner/founder personally knew and wanted to help someone with a serious disability...and the company has never forgotten that.
  • You and your company contribute to your community. You sponsor sports teams, do free repair work at wheelchair events, participate at health fairs, or invite the entire neighborhood over for free hot dogs, balloons and educational sessions once a year.
  • You also donate your equipment and/or services. Frequently.
  • Your company posts official hours of operation, but your days start by 7 a.m. and go past dinnertime.
  • You invest your own time and money to attend industry events and educational conferences that will help you to grow in your position.

Is your hand up? Sure it is. That's why I admire this industry and the people who are in it. Now, put your hand down. Raise your hand if any of these apply to you:

  • Telling others the full story about what you do — from helping clients avoid life-threatening pressure ulcers to making it possible for a child to attend school to making sure a senior is able to catch his grandson's soccer games at the park — feels like “bragging” to you.
  • The work you do is so complex that it's tough to fully explain — and many people within your own family and community don't exactly understand what your day-to-day job is.
  • You're proud of the work you do and the people you work with, but you also think “A job well done is its own reward.”
  • When you donate your equipment or services to clients or your community, you think, “It's no big deal” or “I'm sure anyone else would have done the same thing.”
  • You feel more comfortable working, behind the scenes if necessary, to get the job done versus being out front talking about how the job got done.

Is your hand up? Sure it is.

Here's my tough-love advice for an industry I have come to love: You need to tell your story. All of your story. To everyone. Then you need to tell it again and again.

If you're already doing so, great. Keep it up.

But if you're less comfortable in the spotlight, well — you need to overcome that discomfort. Your industry and your colleagues need you to come forward and tell your story.

As a tax-payer, I'm glad when my dollars are spent on giving people with disabilities the resources they need to get active in their communities and stay there. I believe other tax-payers would feel the same way, if they knew what you spent your days doing. In a perfect world, your work would be understood and recognized without your having to step up to the proverbial microphone. But in the world we live in, headlines happen for people who make the effort to make some noise.

Mark Leita gives hands-on advice on how to tell your story. Because I love this industry, I beg you to hear him out, and then grab the nearest microphone. Our industry is at stake.

This article originally appeared in the August 2011 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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