A couple of weeks ago I attended an event hosted by Xero and the incredible Lisa Messenger, Founder and Editor in Chief of Collective Hub. I absolutely adore Lisa’s work particularly Collective Magazine (pictured below) and the message she shares about doing business (and life) differently in order to create change. It shouldn’t really have come as a surprise that within minutes of arriving at the event I was asked a really powerful question while chatting to fellow Lisa fans – “How do you want to be a disrupter in your chosen field.”
Usually one to get sweaty under the palms when asked questions on the fly by people far more advanced than me in their career path, I surprised myself, untied my tongue and gave an answer that had me giving myself silent high fives for after. Not just because (I think) I managed to not sound like a bumbling hot mess but because in giving it, I also gave myself a moment of clarity.
What I managed to get out was something along the lines of wanting to break down the barriers between conventional, holistic medicine and proactive lifestyle choices and helping patients choose tools that were useful and felt right to them instead of feeling the need to pick ‘sides’ – helping them remember the beautiful, individual person, not just seeing the patient and realising there is no box they must fit in. Something I have also written about here.
But it was the question itself that really stuck in my head. While putting my make up a couple of mornings ago my uh-huh moment came. I realised my answer to that question goes a little deeper. What I have learnt about my health is that health isn’t just about health. It perhaps sounds intuitive but health has to be about people. The health industry has to be about people.
And where I would love to see a shift is how we interact with those people. How we can improve health and make the journey of ill-health easier by acknowledging and emphasising WHY we want to improve health.
Underneath that patient body and diagnostics is a person. A person who has dreams, who has a vision for their life. A person that, in seeking healthcare is hoping to be able to find support in achieving those things. Because when the system forgets this, and importantly, when we allow the patient to forget this, everything becomes hard, overwhelming and confusing. The WHY of helping someone become the healthiest they can be must be at the heart of healthcare. And that goes a lot deeper than just keeping them alive.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about someone who goes to the doctor for a routine appointment – to get a script, to address that niggling cough, or to get a couple of stitches. Though in some ways perhaps I am.
But what I particularly mean is patients like myself, people who spend a lot of time going in and out of consultation rooms to have access to services, perhaps dare I say it, coaches, who can help them work out their plans beyond their medications, appointments and tests. Who can help them centre and connect with themselves and remember their why. So when everything seems too much and they feel like they can’t face dealing with one more doctors visit, they can think back to what the big picture is.
I should take a moment to pause here and say I have immense gratitude for all of my health professionals. I think the vast majority do an incredible job and are fabulous at dealing with physical health needs and if required, critical emotional challenges as well however, in a system that is constantly pushed, stretched and cut there is generally little time for the big picture stuff and helping patients explore the ‘who am I and why am I really here’, tends to feel like a bit of a luxury. What if it wasn’t?
I find it absolutely no coincidence that at a time when I was at a cross road in who I was and what I wanted to do with my life, my health started to get complicated. I am not saying it was the only reason, or even that it wouldn’t have happened otherwise, but perhaps if I had better understood myself and my needs, the valley wouldn’t have been so deep. And when my health began to improve and I started to see the light again, as I began to be able to do more and find more and connect more, my health improved in leaps in bounds. Again no miracle cure, one amongst a handful of reasons, but a really hugely important one. One that I am determined to help the health industry and those who use it remember.
So until people like myself can be as daring and disruptive for health as Lisa Messenger has been for the print industry, until there are rocking health coaches integrated into medical teams across the country helping people create goals and connecting with themselves as an integral part of their care plan – or perhaps even just giving health teams the resources to start talking about the why of their work, may I offer this advice? If you are feeling stuck in your health journey, asking yourself what the point is or perhaps what treatment to pursue, take a step back and firstly do what you need to find your why. Sit and listen to what matters to you, what your values are, what works for you and what it is that moves you so deeply, so strongly, so fearlessly that you find a deep love for life. When we do this, when we KNOW this, the clarity (and motivation) comes.