Why You Might Not Get The Best


“My answer to your question starts with, I want to help others.”

The question asked is some version of, “What do you want to do?” Every person who has ever entered the fields of Health, Social Services and Emergency Medical Services just to name a few, has at some point been asked this question and replied with the above. Most of us asked ourselves that question long before anyone else directed at us. We are helpers.

There’s so much reward in what we do and if we’re smart, we never lose sight of the special place we’ve landed in our society. We are the fortunate ones, although many outside of our professions don’t entirely understand why we do it. Many of our friends, many of the people on the receiving end of our help don’t get it either. We often hear, “I’m glad you like what you do. I know I couldn’t do it.” That’s okay; you be the best you can be at what you do, we’ll do the same.

And you know for the most part we do; try our best that is. We hope every day that our best is consistently excellent. We admit though, sometimes the best you get from us isn’t the best you’d have received the day before, two days from now or even an hour ago. In that moment that brings us together, we’re still giving you the best we can muster.

That might not at first glance make a whole lot of sense, so let me explain. Our jobs you see bring us up close and personal with people in some pretty traumatic circumstances. We may have started our shift physically and mentally ready to go but prior to your contacting us, we just finished up with someone you know nothing about. That interaction has affected us in some profound way. Right now, we look our normal best on the outside, but in our heads and our hearts, we’re grieving at the worst and still processing at the best. It’s a double-edged sword this job of ours; we often meet people at the worst periods in their lives, and we do so joyfully – but it’s the humanity in us, the caring in us, that strong desire to help our fellow beings that sometimes has us distracted when serving you, because you were next.

So what it looks like while we still try to do our best might be a lack of focus. You know, repeating a question we just asked. Or we might seem on autopilot, just going through the motions and not all that helpful. That personal service we pride ourselves on just isn’t there at this moment and as one of those we serve, you’re smart enough to recognize you’re getting inferior service.

Now we know you don’t really care about the last person before you – not in the sense that you have zero empathy for them, but in the sense of it’s you before us here and now and you want 100% of our attention. Right now it’s all about you and you’re right, it should be. Like I say however, we’re human. The very best of us has a day here and there where something or rather someone has had an impact on us in such a profound way that we’re struggling to keep that concealed as best we can while we help you. How do we do that? Right…autopilot. At first we think we can pull it off and you’ll never know what’s going on in our head; we’re disconnected at the moment here in the present while our head is still in the past.

The thing is, we’ve been doing this job a long time. You’d think by now we’d be immune to anything that would set us back. We’ve cut our teeth on some bad situations that as a rookie we hadn’t dealt with before. We got stronger for those experiences and by now, you’d think having seen it all, we’re capable of putting that aside and just giving you the very best you’d get any day. You might even demand it, saying, “I’ve got my rights you know. Just do your job; that’s what you get paid to do right?”

The thing is though, we’re sometimes still caught in the moment; profoundly affected by a sorrowful story, a tragic event, a death or suicide, a victim’s retelling of their personal horror. It’s strangely good though. It is precisely because we are so touched at our core by these moments that we are reminded that even after all these years, we’re still in the right place and the right people to be here. The depth of the event and the magnitude to how we are touched mirrors the length of time it’s going to take us to get back.

And here’s the thing…we’re never going to be exactly who we were before. Nope, never. Why? Because this one event; just one of many, has added to who we are moving forward. We are the sum of all our experiences. In changing, we’re actually going to be better if you can believe it. Having shared your story or some tragedy in our personal lives, we now carry these as we evolve and grow. These allow us to channel our empathy – even though you may unknowingly trigger hurtful memories in us – your collective interactions make us better.

We do our best and we sincerely hope on your day – this day – it’s good enough.

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Not Sure You Have A Criminal Record?


Maybe you do and maybe you don’t. It’s the, ‘not knowing one way or the other’, that’s undermining your confidence when your sitting in some job interview and you’re asked about whether your bondable or not. It’s at this moment; this precise moment that you can feel the job opportunity slipping away.

Yep, it was your momentary pause, that look you instinctively had come over your face that indicated you hid something. That indecisive moment when you weighed telling the truth and risking the job versus lying outright and hoping it would die right there and never be an issue moving forward. You remember that moment clearly. Why? Because that moment gets repeated each and every time you’re in an interview. It’s like a cloud hanging over your head, always present and always threatening to pour down on you at any moment and when it does, all your hopes and aspirations are washed away.

Too many times you’ve heard them say, “Gee, that’s unfortunate. I’d love to hire you but I’m prevented from doing so because of our policies. When you clear things up, get back to me.” Real nice of them to let you down easy; nice to know you performed well enough in the process to get to the final stage too, but in the end, the same result.

Hang on a moment. You say you aren’t actually sure whether you have a criminal record or not? So my question is why aren’t you taking steps – no wait, let me amend that question…why haven’t you taken steps to find out? Maybe it’s because you haven’t got the $25 – $40 to pay for your criminal record check and find out? Somehow I doubt that amount of money is at the core of why you haven’t had this done yet.

No, I suspect the real reason behind your lack of action is that not knowing for sure looks somewhat better to you than finding out that yes you do in fact have a criminal record. Even just walking into the police station to get the process completed may be so intimidating, you can’t get yourself in there to get it done.

So what was it? Something you did as a juvenile 15 years ago? Some mischief charge? A minor offence perhaps and one your not even convinced you were found guilty of because it was so long ago? Was it a warning or wasn’t it? Here’s the thing my friend. If you’re experiencing lost opportunities, stress, anxiety, shame, frustration – any of these, you’re still paying the price for whatever you did so long ago. $25 or $45 seems pretty insignificant in comparison to the price you’ve paid – and continue to pay.

Let’s look at the best case scenario first. You get up the determination to find out one way or the other and you walk into the police station and tell them you want a criminal record check. Getting same day service, you leave with a piece of paper stating nothing came up. Not only is that piece of paper clean, so is your conscious. No record. Suddenly the past anxiety on how to answer any questions about your past is gone. One job search barrier removed.

Okay now to the news that yes, something came up. First of all, what came up? Sure any conviction in the past isn’t good news but come on, there are some offences which are much more serious than others. If you wrapped toilet paper around someone’s house and in a drunken state peed all over their prize petunias in your teens, you might have that mischief charge to deal with now as a 35 year old. Seems to me that’s a lot different and less of an issue than assault with a dangerous weapon and uttering a death threat or stealing someone’s car and getting a driving under the influence to go along with it.

Hey at least you know now. So when that question comes up, you can opt to tell the truth and hope that the past 17 years as an adult with no further interaction with the justice system works in your favour. And while it’s more costly, get going on making some regular payments into obtaining your pardon. Might not be cheap, but it sure is a lot less than the salary you’re NOT getting every couple of weeks because your still unemployed due to that charge.

While the amount to get a pardon might seem high – say $1000.00 just to use a number, look at it this way. In 3 years, you’ll either be 3 years older with a criminal record or 3 years older without one. Which do you choose? Right. Move to the front of the class. And it might not take 3 years anyhow.

Steps to take:

  1.  Get a criminal record check done. Do it today or tomorrow. Find out.
  2.  No record? Great.
  3.  Record? Get the facts on your pardon process.
  4.  Start making financial contributions to your pardon. Make this a priority.
  5.  Got a record? Get professional help with an interview answer.

By the way, your answer to the, ‘are you bondable?’ question is yes. You’re insurable, (what bondable means), so don’t volunteer your conviction – that wasn’t the question asked. Interviewers hope you don’t know the difference between conviction and bondable and therefore voluntarily offer up your record.

While you might have messed up in your youth, don’t mess up as an adult. Get working on that pardon.

Dark Days Having An Impact?


Everywhere on our planet, albeit at different times of the year depending on where you live, the elongated orbit we take around the sun brings us increased darkness as the sun takes a little longer to rise and sets earlier at the end of the day. Where I am in Canada, here I sit at 5:50 a.m. and outside is completely dark.

Now were this a couple of month’s ago, there’d be light outside. Our summer is waning and Autumn is moving in. While it’s many people’s favourite time of year, for others, this prevailing darkness which shortens our hours of daylight is of great concern. The darkness outside touches a darkness within; moods change, some cocoon themselves away, contact with others is restricted, it’s harder to get going in the morning and there can be a prevailing sense of anxiety, worry, stress and depression.

Some of us adapt to this change in light better than others. If your job is to record the attendance figures for your organization, you may note patterns of absenteeism, increased use of mental health days, and even when people are at work, there can be a drop in productivity for some individuals. This isn’t just a case of lazy workers, but may be attributed to this period of reduced natural light.

For many people, there will soon be days of commuting to work in the darkness and again commuting home in the dark. Not everyone has the benefit of sitting with a window out into the world around them, and so it’s possible that without making a conscious effort to get out for a walk at midday, one could travel to work in the dark, never see the light of day and then return home in the dark. Now if this goes on from Monday to Friday, that’s a huge block of time being deprived of daylight.

There’s a name for this condition which negatively impacts some people; seasonal affective disorder. (Isn’t there a name these days for everything?) It’s important to remember that such a condition is not someone voluntarily choosing to be so affected. This isn’t a conscious choice to be moody; it’s not something one can, ‘snap out of’. It’s a state of mental health.

Just like many other mental health conditions, it’s invisible to the eye though. I mean there’s no walking cast or arm in a sling that gives us a visual clue to someone’s condition. Those affected may actually do their best to compensate for their mood by forcing smiles, laughing along at things they don’t really find funny; in other words, doing their best to appear to be their normal self. They aren’t sick in the sense of having a virus nor is there a need to be walking around with a box of tissues at hand.

Now you and I who aren’t affected to the extent these people are might still find ourselves missing the sun. We all have an awareness of the lack of light in the morning and evening – all of us. However, those impacted to the point where it affects their mental health experience this lack of light differently. They may not know what the problem is defined as, they may just feel they aren’t themselves. Without knowing it’s the deprivation of natural sunlight, they may just brood more than normal wondering, “what’s wrong with me?”

Now take this condition and add to it unemployment. For many unemployed people, waking up and consciously realizing there’s no job to go to is in itself a depressing state. Looking for work as you know takes focus, energy, commitment, a strength to face the disappointments of outright rejection, being passed over for someone else or getting no feedback at all on jobs applied to. When you add in the negative impact of what we know to be Seasonal Affective Disorder, well, you’ve got someone who should be ramping up their job search but who is weighed down and not at their best. Worst of all, on the outside, they appear to be normal.

So, what can be done? Well, like many first steps, getting in touch with your physician is a good idea. A check up might be in order. Yes, and be honest when you see him or her. Even if you’ve got a 1 p.m. appointment on a sunny day and your mood has improved, it’s incumbent on you to share openly and honestly about how you experience your days. Many tend to downplay their mental health; wanting to appear ‘normal’, to come across as in good shape and in control; able to handle themselves. But if you conceal what you experience, you won’t get the help you need. Like the toothache that somehow disappears the day of the dental appointment, you’ll regret not being open and honest with your doctor who can’t treat what they don’t know.

Secondly, get out in the daylight. Go for a walk and clear your head. Make a point of looking out a window during the day if possible. Consider some vitamin tablets to compensate with what you miss from the sun.

Most of all, do your best to engage when your instincts tell you to withdraw and isolate yourself. Your thoughts will go to darker places if you’re alone. And finally, open up and share how you’re doing; this is a strength my friend.

We’re all in this together.

Working and Living With Grief


Just a heads up that this blog deals with experiencing the personal loss of having a loved one pass and finding your way as you reconcile choosing to / needing to work.

The next time you find yourself in a bookstore, if you take the time to look for it, you’ll find a section dedicated to the subject of dealing with grief and personal loss. The same is true if you search for the subject online; lot’s of resource material. In your community, you’ll also likely discover there are support groups made up largely, if not exclusively, by people who have lost a loved one. While all these resources are in place and meant to be of great support, they are typically only accessed by people after a loss.

How this article ties in with my regular subject matter of finding and keeping employment is the connection between having lost someone important in your life and finding a way to return to work and contributing in the way you formerly did.

When someone close to you dies, it is often a shocking event. Whether somewhat expected in the case of a terminal illness, or entirely unexpected in the case of an accident, you’re entitled to feel exactly what you feel and nothing less. So you may feel in a state of denial, unsure that what you’ve learned is in fact true. You might feel anger, guilt, intense sorrow, an inability to function, paralyzed and frozen. We aren’t typically prepared for the moment it happens, and neither have we had the training to deal with this event. It can be devastating.

When this happens, showing up for work as usual is the last thing on our minds. Our employer’s have a right to be notified however, as business continues on. It may be that your employer has experience having had other employee’s experience loss. They’ll be prepared as a result to inform you of the length of the bereavement leave and perhaps they’ll have counselling resources to offer you or assist in some way with the funds to see someone on your own. I hope they express their condolences, tell you take the time you need and also share the news with you colleagues so that when you do return, you benefit from their empathy.

It’s an awkward thing of course for many; not knowing what to say to you when they see you except their sorry for your loss. And you yourself may or may not actually want to hear much from your co-workers when you do return. You might want an acknowledgement from them but then some privacy. On the other hand, talking through things with the people you work closest to 7 or 8 hours a day for years might be very comforting to you. There’s no single way to cope and carry on.

How much time you take before returning to work is an individual thing. If you check with your employer, you may find it’s anything from a few days to a week; possibly two. If you need more time, you might be eligible for a leave of absence. While you might not care at this time too much about your employer’s needs vs. your own, your employer does have a need for you or someone to replace you temporarily until you feel prepared to return.

And here’s the thing about returning to work; it’s normal and only natural to return and perform at a lower rate of performance than you formerly worked at. You’re likely to be distracted and unable to focus 100% on your job all day long because of the intensity and close personal nature of this event. Your relationship with the person who passed and the circumstances surrounding their passing are key factors in determining exactly how intense your feelings range and how you’re affected back on the job.

Give yourself the benefit of time. Forgive yourself (though you really don’t need forgiving) if you don’t perform up to your own standards and high expectations. You’ve been through a personal tragedy and you may have no previous experience to deal with this particular loss. You’re just trying to get through the days, one day at a time. You can have a string of a few days where things aren’t too bad and then when you least expect it, you find yourself consumed with grief, intense regret and anger. This isn’t something you sequential work through in a very orderly way. These stages of grief you’ll hear about can have loops in the journey that take you back to what you thought you’ve already dealt with. There’s no one way we all get through it.

Recognize you may want normality and to return to work asap. You may also be more sensitive, less able to make good decisions, less than at your best and mentally fragile. That’s okay.

And a word to you who work with someone returning to work after a loss. Whether young or old, from this part of the world or from somewhere around the world, we all experience losses in our lives at some point. One benefit of this is that we can empathize when others lose someone. Still, we don’t know exactly how someone else feels, nor do we need to. What is helpful is just to be there in a supportive way when a co-worker returns to work.

Thanks for the read.

 

Life: Pack Only What You’ll Need!


Picture yourself going out on a journey. In the relative safety of your home, you look into the future and visualize what you’ll need to pack. After all, forget to pack it now and you’ll either have to do without or pick it up along the road and there’s a cost associated with doing so. If it’s a short journey; a weekend getaway; forgetting something and not being able to replace it might be inconvenient but hardly a disaster. In two days time, you’re back home and you can better equip yourself next time you’re out the door for a weekend.

The thing about a weekend away though is you know where you’re going and you therefore have a pretty good idea what to pack and take along. When the weekend comes to an end, you can assess your success or lack thereof in terms of planning and either repeat your success or make some additions and deletions; things you needed but forgot and things you packed and didn’t use.

Life however is a one-time trip. You never know the final destination and if we’re totally honest here, you don’t even have a map showing you the route you’ll take. How on earth do you prepare yourself for that kind of trip? (Incidentally, these are my favourite holiday trips; heading in a general direction, hitting the open road with a general idea of where I want to go but no planned itinerary; no having to be in a certain town on a certain day; heading down some sideroad because it looks interesting and there’s an unspoken promise of an amazing something not to be missed.)

Now the one thing that excites and invigorates one person will confuse and cause anxiety in another. Some people need to know exactly where they’re going; who they will travel with, where they’ll stay. These folks like to pay in advance where all is known and just not yet experienced. If this is you, excellent and enjoy your trip. Life for some is like this too. Careers are mapped out, school is a given and paid for, weddings are arranged, investments made in stocks and properties, funerals prepaid. It’s all so nice, neat, ordered and arranged.

Ah but for the rest of us life is nothing but flux. Change is constant, plans are made with good intentions but often chucked or amended as life brings us into contact with other people, other places, new information comes our way and stimulates us in new directions. Change for us is good! We do things we never imagined we would, we fall in and out of love with people we never imagined ourselves with, then never imagine ourselves without. We lose jobs, move to new places, get confused at times, live the highs and lows. At times we know what we want and then at others we haven’t got a clue. We’re hopeless one minute, on the right path the next, go years seemingly drifting and then bazinga!, we’re suddenly successful!

How on earth do you plan for a journey like this life you’re living? It’s easy actually. You pack as best you can with the information you have and you tell yourself right at the start that you’ll be needing to pick up more supplies as you go along. When the weather turns, you drop the shorts and t-shirts and pick up some sweaters and thicker socks. You adapt my friend. Although you knew this time would come, you were smart enough to know there was no need to pack the long underwear and mittens way back when the weather was hot, muggy and the streets were steaming.

Life is the same way. When you start out thinking of a job you don’t know where you’ll end up. You’ll get exposed to different jobs, meet people doing work you don’t even know at this moment exists. There’s no way you could prepare yourself now for those jobs you want in 10 – 15 years because they haven’t even entered your conscious thought or perhaps they haven’t even been created yet.

Some general direction is great but a detailed master plan with all the career changes and jobs timed and mapped out? Highly improbable and unrealistic. This might cause you some minor or major anxiety if you’re the type who must know everything in advance.

Life is organic and if you’re to fully thrive in it, embracing all the changes, influences, suggestions, advice and yes – warnings is required. There will be good and bad, highs and low points. You’ll meet good people and some bad unfortunately; those who will help you and those who will hold you back. Be wary but don’t cocoon yourself from the world or they win. Get out in it; breathe deep.

Your age? Inconsequential. You’re still living aren’t you? Your finances? Not everything expensive is worth having. At some point in your future, you’ll come to the Point Of Reflection. You know, that time when you stop, pause, slowly turn and look back from some vantage point on the path you’ve taken. You’ll forget many of the things you thought you never would, you’ll remember many faces you met and feel satisfaction over much of what you’ve done. Regrets? Sure. You’ll have some. Big deal.

Get going. That’s the sum of it in two words. Job? Career? Relationship? Travel? No matter what you want, get going.

Mental Health Issues At Work


A lot of people don’t get it do they? They may be sympathetic alright, but their sympathy doesn’t translate into fully appreciating or understanding why you falter. When they see you running late, having to leave early, missing days entirely, they wonder how much you really want it in the first place. To be fair, they only see you when you’re experiencing days that are good enough for you to get out in public. If they could see you on your worst days; the ones where you can’t even get out of bed, they’d have a different point of view – perhaps – and maybe their sympathy would turn to empathy.

These mental health issues aren’t what you want in life. It’s not like you go out of your way to take time off. When the anxiety and panic sends you running for the security of your home surroundings; one of the few places you can actually breathe and feel somewhat safe and protected against what assails you, you’re not bolting because you want to, you’re leaving because you have to. When you do get home and shut that door with your back leaning against it out of sheer relief, you don’t always feel happiness at being home but rather, sometimes great frustration that once again, you couldn’t finish what you’d hope would be putting in a full day.

Being normal; it’s not too much to ask for is it? Just getting up, feeling good, having a shower and washing away all the remnants of bad dreams and thoughts along with the water. Dressing, looking at yourself in the mirror and liking what you see as you lock the door and head to work with confidence, looking forward to meeting people, being productive, getting things done. Normal. Sigh… “Why can’t that be me?”, you wonder. Just a normal, average person living free of these constant mental health challenges. Oh to have a day free of meds, free of worry and fear, no anxiety – “do I remember a time when I didn’t have these things?”

Now we all have times in our lives when we experience anxiety and worry. We’ve had moments of panic, a few days or maybe a couple of weeks when something has caused us to feel added pressure and stress. Some major project at work, year-end inventories, staff shortages, some invasive dental work etc. The pressure and anxiety we feel in these moments gives us a small glimpse into what others with mental health issues feel; a good thing of course. However the downside of these moments is that we might feel we know exactly what someone with constant anxiety and depression feels. This can cause us to expect them to snap out of it eventually, put in the effort to pull themselves past the panic attacks and be stronger than their mental illness. After all, if ours passed, theirs should too.

Like I said, this is the downside of having moments here and there where we all experience stress, anxiety and sadness. Oh it’s completely understandable that we evaluate others behaviours based on what we’ve experienced ourselves. As humans, we all do this. We try and understand the behaviours and actions of others using whatever we’ve experienced that comes closest to what we see and hear. The problem in this case is when we see our own short-term challenge; one we’ve overcome, and we compare it to someone with an ongoing mental health challenge and expect them to put it behind them as we’ve done. That’s just not realistic. If these are the expectations we hold, we’re really not being empathetic.

It just may not be possible to fully appreciate and truly understand what we ourselves have not experienced. And many a person with anxiety, depression, panic attacks and constant pressure has told me they wouldn’t wish on anyone what they struggle with every day. I for one can only imagine the strength of character, determination and immense mental and physical effort it must take just to show up some days and then on top of that, work with a smile, look like you want others to see you as. What I can’t imagine is how hurtful it must feel if you were present on the job, thinking you were blending in (finally!) and then someone said, “You know, it wouldn’t hurt you to smile.” It would have to feel like a dagger bursting what you believed to be a pretty impressive rebuilding of your self-esteem.

This blog today is therefore meant to be for both you who struggle with mental health and those of us who work alongside you and are fortunate enough to live free of. Show some compassion; what you can’t understand do your best not to criticize or judge harshly. When your workload goes up because someone is absent again, be mindful that they aren’t, ‘goofing off’, or ‘having a good time lazing about’. Keep them in your thoughts and welcome them back with words of encouragement.

And you who have mental health challenges, problems, struggles – choose what you will – all you can do is your best and your best is all that can be asked of you. May you be surrounded by considerate, compassionate people who lend support, have your back and excuse/forgive us if every so often we fail to act at our best with words that may hurt unintended.

Giving 100% Might Still Not Be Enough


Has this happened to you? You’ve just sat down to eat and you reach for the salt and start shaking it only to find all you get is a few grains of salt. While you did get every last grain you could out of the container, it was still inadequate. So you got up and grabbed a second salt shaker and got the quantity you wanted.

Whenever a group of people come together to learn, you’ll find those in attendance have varying abilities to receive, comprehend, internalize and then use the new information in the way it was intended by whomever gave it to them. Just like that first salt shaker, one person might give it all they’ve got, but it’s clearly not enough to term their experience successful. Others in the group might be more like the second in that they don’t need to invest 100% of themselves to grasp the lesson; they’ve got so much more to give and aren’t taxed to their limits.

This is something that you should remind yourself if and when you find yourself instructing any group. It’s easy to misread someone in attendance and openly question their level of commitment, their self-investment and how bad they want to learn whatever they’ve signed up for. It could be that other things going on in their lives have robbed them of what they would have otherwise loved to pour into your instruction. Yet, the multiple things that are occurring around them outside of your own awareness has them distracted, consumed with worry. As a consequence, they find it difficult to process what you’re sharing and then demonstrate they have mastered the learning.

This is true whether we’re talking about children, teens or adult learners. The major difference experienced by those in these three groups is only the things they worry or stress about; but the experience of being distracted itself is shared. So you may see a child unable to focus or pay attention in elementary school and make the error of assuming they are a daydreamer or assume they just wont’ concentrate. A teenager might walk into a class and look sullen, withdrawn, unmotivated etc. but really they are fixated on something they are experiencing in an all-consuming way. As for an adult, it’s not hard to now understand that while a person might tell us they are committed 100% to learning, what we might observe is skipped classes to work on solving outside issues that they feel take priority.

I suppose then it’s ourselves we have to look at when at the start of a class we tell the those before us to give 100% of their focus to the materials. While we assume our meaning is clear and direct, upon reflection, we might be failing to lay out what’s required in order for each person to ultimately be successful. Why? Life gets in the way is how I put it.

Let me use my own experience this week and last as an example. I started with the expectation I’d have 12 unemployed people and over the course of two weeks I’d share with them much of what it takes to successfully land a job. Cover letters and resumes, interview preparation and job applications, all crammed heavily into 10 consecutive days of 9:00a.m. sharp to 2:30 p.m. Before being accepted into the class, I spoke individually with each of the 12, going over their expectations and mine; specifically asking them if they were prepared to commit to these days and times. All 12 told me what I wanted to hear and accepted the invitation.

What I’ve observed is not all 12 have the capacity to keep to that commitment. It’s not that they are lazy, combative or don’t want to get the most out of time together; it’s that not all 12 are actually capable of being present for the 12 days. So what’s got in the way? Life. What does Life look like? It’s mental fatigue, mental illness, a threat of eviction, a bad decision to stay home and await a phone call with a job offer when they could have attended with their cell phone in hand. For some, it’s the trigger of something raised in class that’s brought back a haunting memory from the past of failure, shame and the need to, ‘take a day or two to work things out’.

What we can’t tell just from looking at someone, is how much they’ve got inside themselves to give. If I could line the 12 up and see them like 12 salt shakers, I could easily see how much they each have to start with, and I could also see how close they are to emptying everything they’ve got. The expectation I have for how much they need to invest in the first place to succeed and perhaps their own ability to accurately self-assess themselves may be unrealistic.

Maybe I should get a few salt shakers of various quantities and sizes and illustrate this point to the group. Perhaps it might save someone from feeling bad about not meeting my expectations or those of the course. Hey, when you give it all you have, it doesn’t matter how much is expected of you, you’ve emptied the tank. Demanding more of someone who has nothing less to give is unrealistic and does them a disservice as they are set up to fail.

Hmm… maybe this would be a good read for anyone who helps people.