28 October 2009

Honor society energy boosters

I am so excited that the 40th Biennial Convention of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) is taking place here in Indianapolis next week, 31 October through 4 November. Convention is such an exciting time! What I value most is connecting with people and sharing stories of success and inspiration. There is a special energy that is created at the convention and, luckily, that energy sustains me for two years until the next convention.

There is also a special developmental life to biennial cycles. While one set of activities is coming to a close, another set is about to begin. One leadership team passes the torch and charge to the next leadership team, which is full of hopes, aspirations and ideas and will face new challenges. This developmental rhythm keeps the honor society vital and alive.

Of course, you do not have to wait for convention to become engaged with the activities of STTI. You can experience the same vitality by connecting with people in the organization and sharing your talents and skills throughout the year. Whenever you need an energy boost, there is a global community of nurses ready to connect with you. So make sure you have your talents registered in the Volunteer Interest Profile (VIP).

If you have already made your talents and interests known, then be sure to connect to the online member forum, or find yourself engaged in the Community Public Health Nursing Forum, the Palliative Care/Hospice Nursing Community, Crossing the Bamboo Bridge: An Educational Project Exploring the Complementarity of Nursing and Healing Traditions, or the Good Work in Nursing Community which is affiliated with the GoodWork Project at Harvard University.

Whenever you feel like you need an energy boost, look to the Honor Society of Nursing and the community of nurses around the world to fuel your imagination and stimulate your knowledge, learning and service needs. See you in Indianapolis!

Daniel J Pesut, PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership, published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

23 October 2009

The compassion of communication

I am always amazed at how difficult it is to achieve true and responsible communication. What is your experience with communication?

One of the people I admire is Marshall Rosenberg. He has devoted his life’s work to creating a language of compassion. Such a language is essential. Every nurse knows that compassion is the essence of presencing. Effective nursing response to the needs and requests of patients can only be achieved through observation and awareness. Such a simple concept can become so complicated in the frenetic world of a hospital, outpatient clinic or surgery center.

There is a life energy that creates needs, values, desires and expectations. Nurses, as a rule, are sensitive to that energy. I often wonder how nurses communicate their
needs in places they work. When needs aren’t met, there is discontent and disconnection. If needs, as Rosenberg defines them, are met, I suspect people are largely satisfied with the work they do, and that they find purpose, meaning and connection with others in their daily activities. Nonviolent communication creates human connections that empower compassionate giving and receiving.

Are your needs being met? Are the needs of your patients, peers, colleagues and family members being met? Check out the needs inventory proffered by Rosenberg. Connection, meaning, physical well-being, autonomy, peace, honesty, play and peace are indicators of needs we have that energize us. In contrast, review the feelings inventory that Rosenberg and his colleagues have developed which indicate when needs are not
being met. If you are a generative leader and are sensitive to your needs and the needs of others, you are more likely to have an open heart, will and mind and will know how best to develop compassion through communication.

You may also be interested in learning more about the American Academy for Communication in Health Care. The goal of this organization is to transform health care by helping people relate more effectively.

How compassionate is your communication? What needs and feelings do you experience daily? How will you use resources around you to communicate more effectively and, by using your compassionate communication skills, make a difference in the nursing care you provide?

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership, published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

12 October 2009

Generative leadershiphttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif

Are you a generative leader? A generative leader is someone who creates and fosters creativity wherever they go. Generative leaders are purpose-driven people who have spent time clarifying their highest goal and aligning their personal and professional visions with the mission of the organizations they serve. They are clear about who they are and what they believe, and they have the capabilities and skill sets to accomplish what they desire in the environments in which they find themselves.

Generative leaders are solution-focused and outcome-oriented, and they excel in framing and reframing challenges, situations and the meaning of facts. Generative leaders encourage appreciative and cooperative strategies among agents in a system. Generative leaders challenge people in systems where they work to think in new ways and generate creative solutions to seemingly intractable problems. Generative leaders ask the question, “What do I want to create for myself and the people I care about?” They also consistently reflect on the question, “How am I responsible for what is happening to me?”

Is there a secret to such generative leadership? Michael Ray believes clarification of one’s highest goal is that secret. The author of a book by that name, Highest Goal: The Secret That Sustains You in Every Moment,
Ray’s essential message is that connection with one’s highest goal serves to develop capacity for generative leadership. He explains: “To be of service and make the contribution only you can make to the universe, you must become a generative leader—no matter what your role in life. When you are generative, you contribute to a cycle of renewal. Your synergy, something more than the sum of its parts, starts a spiral of intelligent growth; this is what life is all about: it is living with the highest goal. You can be a generative leader to yourself, to one other person or to the world. And if you start right now with an intention of being generative and to create creativity around you, as you give and receive, you’ll see remarkable things happen (Ray, 2004, page 140).

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... and Others Don’t,
was a student of Ray’s and certainly benefited from his teaching. Read what Collins has to say about discovery of his highest goal.

I believe every member of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International is a generative leader. In times of stress and turbulence, each of us is likely to benefit from clarifying our highest goal. After all, if our highest goal is the secret that sustains us in every moment, then it is worthwhile to know and consistently remind ourselves what that highest goal is. So—no pressure here—are you willing to engage in an exercise suggested by Michael Ray?

It goes something like this: Ask yourself, what was the most meaningful thing you did last week? As you contemplate that question and “download” your answer, consider the next question: Why
was that experience so meaningful and important? When you have your answer, take the next step and ask yourself the next why question: Why is that important to you? The idea is to keep interrogating yourself with why questions, drilling down and downloading your answers, until you are able to identify in one, two or three words the real reason why that experience you had last week was so meaningful to you. (This is similar to the “Five Whys” exercise associated with quality improvement efforts.) The final answer you come up with in this exercise may or may not be your highest goal, but perhaps it is the secret that sustains you in every moment, the motivation and drive that keeps you going.

It is useful to periodically make tacit motivations more explicit so they can serve us more effectively as North Star or navigation points. Who are the generative leaders you admire in your organization or social network? Can you discern the secret that sustains them in every moment? How will you use this information to structure your own reflections on your generative leadership skill set?

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership
, published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

02 October 2009

Open mind, heart and will

I had the good fortune to have a sabbatical from September through December 2008. During that time, I had a chance to study integral theory, mediation and conflict resolution, and leadership development. One of the more influential books I read during my sabbatical was by Otto Scharmer. Titled Theory U: Leading from the Future as It Emerges, the book addresses the social technology of presencing.

Every nurse knows presencing. Scharmer defines it, "to sense, tune in and act from one's highest future potential—the future that depends on us to bring it into being." Presencing blends the words "presence" and "sensing" and works through "seeing from our deepest source."

Presencing is about the economy of creating, and it involves shifting attention and moving through stages and states of downloading—from talking nice; to debating, or talking tough; to dialoguing, which involves reflective inquiry; to presencing, which supports collective creativity. This is in contrast to the economy of destruction, which silences the views of others, supports blaming and absencing, which are grounded in hubris and often lead to intrigue and disinformation, harassing, bullying, annihilation and collective collapse.

Presencing requires effort and individual action. If you want to read stories
about presencing or learn more about tools and practices that support Theory U processes, consider spending some time investigating the Presencing Institute.

Given today's fast-paced health care contexts, presencing is more challenging than ever. It is also more essential and necessary than ever before. Nurses are the people who can assume a leadership role in creating a more highly evolved health care system through strategic and sustained application of Theory U principles, practices and presencing.

I hope you investigate this theory and learn how it was used to create new models of health care delivery. How might you begin to use Theory U and intentional presencing in your work?

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership, published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.