Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The importance of wisdom

By: Marisa Geitner, President and C.E.O. 

"Practical wisdom is the combination of moral will and moral skill."- Aristotle 

I would imagine every business would suggest it aims to hire employees who demonstrate moral will,  that is, those who demonstrate a consistent desire to do what is right.  I'm also certain that companies would admit that those same employees don't always demonstrate the day to day ability to use that desire to do what's right to navigate very colorful and unpredictable workplace scenarios, otherwise known as moral skill.  Aristotle suggests the disconnect is due to the lack of practical wisdom.

What does practical wisdom look like at work? At Heritage Christian Services, wise people navigate and prioritize assigned job responsibilities in a manner that ensures service to others is always the top priority.  Wise people master improvisation, they know how to meet the expected outcomes of the work while creating an experience that ebbs and flows with the dynamics of the day.  A wise person knows how to use his or her moral skills to support the true intention of the work they are there to do. Not just the tasks they are assigned to do. Wisdom is an earned gift, it takes time.  Wisdom isn't born, it's gained.

Wisdom doesn't come with age alone or just any old experience. It takes time with the right experience.  We each need time to understand the result that our work can have. Time to understand those who we are supporting and what it is that they truly want from their experience with us.  We need to learn in an environment that allows us to improvise, to try new things and yes- occasionally "come up short" and learn from our mistakes.  We also need to seek and learn from mentors who are wise teachers.  

Who in your work environment do you consider practically wise?  Watch them, ask them questions and thank them for the model they set for service to others.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Passive consumers versus active customers

By: Marisa Geitner, President and C.E.O. 

It was the early 2000s when I first remember the use of the term "consumer" being confronted in the human service arena. Dr. Tom Pomeranz, a nationally known advocate for Universal Enhancement, shared that the word has had spotted past – a past associated with terms like squander and waste. From that day forward that word was not used to describe those who chose the supports and services of Heritage Christian Services. Like other misused or antiquated language, hearing that word was like nails on a chalkboard.

While the word is used less and less, I wonder whether the human service industry has truly made the transition. Do we respect those who choose our services knowing they have authority over their decision making? Authority in the investment of their resources? Are we accountable to meeting their individual outcomes? Do we fear that without innovative, broader support options, we may no longer offer what individuals want? Will they therefore take their business elsewhere?

I believe human service, of any kind, shifts when we see active customers versus passive consumers. Far too often, particularly with those with intellectual disabilities, we believe we know best.

Let’s be sure we are active along with our customers.  Let’s be sure we are bringing our expertise to meet them where they are, not where we believe they should be, and offering the support for them to direct and achieve what matters most to them.