The number of change efforts Aspire is currently undergoing is unprecedented! There seems to be nothing left untouched by our disruptive innovation. Every facility, every department, every service, every staff member is feeling the stress of change on top of already very difficult jobs!
On a daily basis direct service staff witness all social ills such as: domestic violence, trauma, addiction, mental illness, poverty, discrimination, suicide, abuse, neglect, crime, bullying, homelessness, and infectious disease. Community-based staff do this while driving 760,000 miles a year!
Support staff work diligently to run the business operations of a not-for-profit that has huge administrative burdens from insurers, payers, state and federal programs, accreditation bodies, grants, contracts, legal counsel, etc.
Our management staff are expected to function as summa cum laude MBA graduates understanding budgeting, marketing, HR, accounting, finance, facilities, and operations as well as serving as coaches to their large teams. Clinical DMS are also expected to provide state-of-the-art evidence-based practices and provide outstanding customer service while making sure our consumers are getting better.
Our communities are drowning in heroin and opioid addiction at levels never seen before, which is taxing our intake and treatment programs. Our physicians are being faced with the reality of offering medication assisted addictions treatment with medications that are dangerous, highly misused and controversial.
The Aspire workplace culture can be compared to that of the 1970s TV show, M.A.S.H., where military personnel of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital cared for the injured during the Korean War and used humor to escape from the horror and depression of the situation. Our staff including physicians, nurses, clinical staff, residential, community, management and support staff are on the ‘front lines’ every day. Just like the show, we are sometimes working in deplorable conditions. We are constantly understaffed, underfunded and under the threat of ‘incoming’ 24 hours a day. As Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) stated, “Joking about it is the only way of opening my mouth without screaming.”
I cherish the humor in our Aspire culture. We have an undying need to laugh together, at ourselves and at each other. I often tell new hires that if you’re not being made fun of around here, you kind of feel left out. Laughing out loud at oneself is a social equalizer and a quick way to get people to join in! I have succeeded in being equals when a staff member or a consumer can tease me out loud, in public!
I encourage all of us to lighten up! Become a bit irreverent at times! Make fun of yourself! Laugh out loud! Giggle! Laugh with abandon! Snort! Laugh til you cry! Have a rip roarin’ time and a full belly roar! Do this not to minimize the hard work that you do; do this to survive the hard work that you do!
As one of the Aspire Value Statements reads, laughter is truly the best medicine! Now, go…have yourself a good laugh!