I know this seems like a weird topic. I agree. Most of my best ideas are initially weird to me. This one comes from a humid jog with my physician running buddy. We were discussing healthcare, business, crime rates, relationships, and just about anything else to keep my mind off the 6am August 110% humidity in lower Alabama.
Dr. Ben is completing a fellowship in wellness based holistic medicine. He sees promoting wellness as the best way to lower healthcare costs and improve patients lives. Think preventive maintenance. His ideas inspired my approach to working with organizations. We both believe the best way to prevent problems is to proactively promote wellness. Proactive means things like exercise and diet in healthcare. Proactive means building agreements to handle conflict resolution and teamwork in organizations.
Out of breath and yet needing to say something to slow Ben down, I blurted the following, “Victim hood is the enemy of wellness.” It worked as Ben slowed and said, “Well said.” We laughed at the pun, and I turned us back toward home.
What I meant was that as long as people expect others to be responsible for them (read government socialization of costs) or blame others for their circumstance, they will not show the discipline to proactively pursue wellness. So doctors see patients who don’t care about their health until they lose their insurance, and then they expect someone to shoulder the cost of their care. And their care is more expensive because they have chosen to not live healthily.
The same happens in organization when people expect others to handle all decision making or blame others for lack of results or fulfillment in their jobs. Blaming others and expecting others to do something for you are both forms of victim hood. The amount of complaining these days is the only thing growing faster than our national debt. Think of it as socialization of personal responsibility.
What Ben and I both realize is that we cannot control what happens in our environment nearly as much as we can control what happens inside of us. Ben is not going to change the medical system but he can change his knowledge regarding how he practices. I cannot change the economy but I can control what I do each day to improve my value to my clients and potential clients. And we both understand that we can control our diets and exercise. And by focusing on the things we can control, we minimize victim hood and maximize wellness. I still complain about how aging isn’t fair, so I have a ways to go.
So when you start to complain about politics, economics, healthcare, your boss, the other managers in your company, or your golf swing, think about putting a V on your forehead signaling your choice to be a victim. But if you react by saying, “I may not be able to change what happens to me or around me, but I can change what happens in me,” notice how the V doubles and becomes a W. The choice is yours.
When I feel the V coming on, I try to think of a leader who had numerous chances to blame others or figure he was owed something for his troubles. Paul provided a classic example of how to move toward wellness. In his letter to his “followers” in Rome, after describing all the negative events he went through in just trying to practice his calling, Paul displayed a wellness attitude by saying, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Well said!
 Romans 8:38-39 NIV