June 11, 2015

Redefining “disability”

“Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.” ― Fred Rogers I have always admired the people with disabilities with whom I work because of their amazing ability to live in the moment and find joy in simple pleasures that I often take for granted.  When I was a live-in staff at a group home a few […]
May 24, 2015

Even a Punch to the Face Has Meaning

Control has become a bad word and rightfully so.  The overwhelming majority of incidents involving potential abuse and neglect I have seen precipitated from someone seeking control. Stress is something that all of us have to cope with on some level on a daily basis.  In extremely stressful situations, our minds begin to process things on an emotional level, our critical thinking skills decline rapidly, and we are operating on adrenaline and endorphins.  I can recall a specific experience where I was assisting a person with eating her lunch when she suddenly punched me right on my nose.  I went from being calm and collected to shocked, scared, and angry.  My nose was bleeding and I got up and stepped away from the table.  My internal vocabulary shifted to a series of four letter words I would not say out loud.  In that moment, I knew I was not going […]
May 10, 2015

Supervision for Supervisors

  “Think not of yourself as the architect of your career but as the sculptor. Expect to have to do a lot of hard hammering and chiseling and scraping and polishing.” ― BC Forbes It is often said that employees do not quit companies, but rather quit their supervisor.  I can think of experiences in my own life where I felt a tremendous sense of loyalty and respect for a supervisor, and other experiences where I felt I could not take another minute being in the same room with them.  For better or for worse, an employee’s relationship with his or her supervisor is the primary tie to the organization, and the supervisor thus represents the company as a whole.  Having a supervisor who makes poor decisions, is abusive, or just incompetent pushes employees away either to a different department or away from the organization altogether.  It also inflicts damage […]
April 27, 2015

“Selling” What We Do

  Being relatively new to the President/CEO role, I have had to step out of my comfort zone frequently, in particular when it comes to building new relationships.  As I have met people interested in contributing to Open Options UCP, I have found I am at ease talking about our programs and services but quickly get anxious and uncomfortable when it comes to making an actual “ask.”  I’ve found myself feeling like a manipulative salesperson, trying to talk people into doing something they don’t want to do.  “Jim, I can get you in this great car today AND at a price my boss normally doesn’t allow,” I hear myself saying, just before they leave the lot and the car breaks down.  After expressing this anxiety, a Board member offered some words of wisdom that have really stuck with me.  He reminded me that I’m not selling a product that I […]