Friday, October 20, 2017

Things Comply. We Collaborate.

This essay began as a quick sketch as I was editing my upcoming book, tentatively titled Dear Warriors: A guided journal to support & inspire those with diabetes. It grew and a bridge developed between two of my passions, diabetes and education. I felt compelled to share it live today. I’d love to hear your response!

Compliant vs Noncompliant. Absolute trigger words for me.

To be compliant means to conform or bend to an authority. Merriam-Webster defines it as “ready or disposed to comply :submissive.” and its opposite, noncompliance, as “ :failure or refusal to comply with something”.

I was reminded of these words recently while observing a twitter chat regarding diabetic care. I guess I had blocked the dark pall these terms cause to fall over my mind during the last few years as I’ve been focusing on raising my kids and exploring the world of education. If you’re not aware, when medical directions are not being followed, the phrase “patient is noncompliant” can be used. If they are followed, the “patient is compliant”.

The use of “compliant” and “noncompliant” does not usually happen in education today. “Compliant” may be used to indicate simple indifference but they both smell of right/wrong, good/bad and strength/weakness and are typically avoided. I immediately wondered why they would still be used to describe diabetic warriors today. Or ANYONE for that matter. Even two former presidents are giving speeches on our need to work together.

You demand my submissiveness?!? <insert heated response here>

The truth is, whether you’re in first grade or midlife, you want to belong. You want to be a part of something. You want to be valued. You want to be respected. You want to be heard and to feel comfortable sharing your reality.

Julie Woodard M.Ed is a 6th grade elementary teacher in Texas with a talent for depicting the critical messages teachers are trying to convey to tomorrow’s adults: their students. I’d like you and I to sit for a bit together. Let’s examine a couple of her pieces and consider these ideas in light of today’s adults and today’s people (young and old) who are saddled with chronic conditions like diabetes and see what we discover. Why?

If we’re leading our children there, couldn’t we embrace it, too? And should?

October is National Principals Month and it also hosts National Bosses Day. Mrs. Woodard’s graphic on what defines a good principal smartly ties in the fall season. Let’s look what happens when we replace “principal” with “boss”. Why? If the terms “compliant” and “noncompliant” are to be used, someone has to be the boss, right? I'd like to show that even if the medical directions are from a "boss", that boss should not have this terminology in their vocabulary toolbox.

According to this graphic, a good boss creates leaders, not followers. They include others who are involved in a situation as “an integral part of the decision-making process” and they “empathize, encourage, (and) empower”. Those traits seem to go against the notion of compliance. “Just submit.”, you might want to say. “Why should I do any of that?”, you might be still asking.

It’s because empowered partners work together to something greater via collaboration.

Enter Mrs. Woodard’s 2nd graphic on collaboration. Collaboration requires work and practice. Notice the EKG-like art on her tool! It’s almost tailor-made for a medical textbook. This subject is at our heart: it’s vital. Again, let’s look at this image and take out the notion that this is geared to children and apply it to our adult world.

Information is shared and everyone involved learns something with collaboration. It levels the field by establishing goals and expectations together. Clearly defined roles, needs and ways to resolve problems are outlined in advance. As Mrs. Woodard reminds us, “One of the most valued skills employers look for is the ability to work together and collaborate.” Speaker, entrepreneur, corporate organizer and executive coach leader Anthony C. Gruppo speaks in what I feel are similar terms, tweeting, “When you aspire to achieve for others, the result exceeds what you imagined for yourself.” If that’s the case, we should act accordingly.

Things and objects should be compliant to human collaborative efforts.

Humans should never be submissive. You may argue that I’m messing with trivial semantics. However, I have written previously on the power of words, in The Word Soup We’re Living In. Words have weight. We can (and should) be collaborative, not superior/submissive.

If we find that plans aren’t being followed, we need to come back in partnership and review them together. Talk. Review options. Figure out what’s going to work for everyone involved. Confusion can be cleared that way and new agreements- workable ones, can be forged. The plans bend to the people’s needs and abilities.

Diabetes is complex and messy, as is life in general, frankly. No one is perfect. We’ll all benefit if we adopt the mindset of growth over time by collaboration. Sure, we’ll screw up. But, we’ll learn. We’ll evolve.

We’re in this together. We’re stronger that way, too.

I wrote my book, Dear Teachers, to help teachers take time for themselves and track what is working or not through a school year. It’s a collaboration with your inner voice! :-) If you haven't gotten a copy for yourself or a teacher you know, please consider it today!

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