Monday, March 30, 2015

Create the job you love, in a system you can influence

By: Marisa Geitner, president and C.E.O. at Heritage Christian Services

Create the job you love, in a system you know you can influence.

That's what I heard the day I offered my resignation from Heritage Christian in 1996. It got my attention!

When I began working relief at Heritage Christian, it had never been my plan to remain beyond my degree. You see, I specialized in my graduate studies with the goal of working in healthcare. When that first offer came from an area hospital, I knew I would love the job because I had been doing it part-time and it was all I'd hoped for. It was time to move on, even though I loved the work I was doing at Heritage Christian. I knew I would always serve the agency in some way, even if not a paid employee.

But the "system you know you can influence" kept me thinking – and kept me here. It was a challenge that was hard to ignore.

Now I find myself serving in my third year as president and C.E.O. I'm quite confident I have held more unique job titles than anyone else in the history of the company to date (although there is plenty of time for someone to beat me). What a ride it has been. As to my influence, I'll leave that to my Maker to decide someday, but no one can argue that I was given the opportunity to influence.

It's that promise I believe we seek to offer each and every employee to this day. Opportunity to influence. To make this the job and the heartfelt work you need it to be. A chance to find fulfillmentmaybe not every single day because we all have our ups and downs, but fulfillment collectively. It's the heart of our FutureYou commitment and it is mission right: Respectful experiences. Opportunity to learn, to mature and to grow. A life of dignity, worth and expression to which all are entitled. 

Embrace the challenge!  What's holding you back? How are you being called to serve? Who do you trust to support you along the way? 

Here are a few tips to get you started: 
·         Be open to honest feedback – Ask for it. Brace yourself and listen. It's a hard thing to do but it gets easier with experience.
·         Differentiate yourself by excelling at something others seem to shy away from – Set yourself apart through service. 
·         Have fun – Suggest a new job title that reflects what you believe you bring to your work. The more creative the better!

You are working within a company you can influence. Enjoy it!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The importance of thoughtful ambassadors

When passion for an injustice, a cause or a principle burns in our belly what do we do with it?  

Like any fire, our passion must be tended very carefully.  Locked within us, it may eventually starve and wither away, forgotten.  Overfed, it pours from us in a way far too intense, something that people back away from.  For those of us at Heritage Christian, our passion can overshadow the very intention of the people we are here to support.  It takes thoughtful balance to ensure the voices of the people we serve are heard.

When our thoughtful passion aligns with the most important needs of the people who use our services, it defines our advocacy.  When we have listened closely enough, their stories and what they want for their lives shape us as ambassadors, allowing us to speak in a way that excites others.  We fuel others with opportunities and solutions.  We have a clear way to move forward.

Heritage Christian ambassadors aim to be faithful and positive.  We speak always of the person first.  We work diligently to eliminate the barriers to access and opportunity that are often caused by a perception of disability, and we instead focus on similarities.  

We need a mighty force of diverse ambassadors.  Ambassadors who represent our passion for better outcomes for those we walk along side.  Ambassadors who find ways to stretch and serve the many in need of the right support.  Ambassadors who improve access by welcoming others into new opportunities.

This week challenge yourself.  Who can you welcome in?  Make an introduction. Model person first language. Share a story that connects us through similarities. Highlight a powerful support relationship.  

Lead as an ambassador, share your story, focus your advocacy – and watch the impact you'll have.