A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way ~ John C. Maxwell
In November we celebrate National Caregiving month and it is always a good time to reflect and reconnect with good friends along the road during our Caregiving journey. As I read through many of the national organization who are running promotions this month to signify National Caregiving month, I started to think about my role as a family Caregiver and what being a family Caregiver meant to me. Being a family Caregiver taught me a number of valuable lessons, but the most important lesson I learned was after Caregiving ended and Richard was no longer with us, and that lesson is the importance of self-care. It is common for family Caregivers to lose themselves in the midst of Caregiving because our focus is so intense on our Caree. Now 18 months after Richard made his life transition, I am learning how to take better care of myself, (It is an up hill battle, that I will eventually win!)
Just recently I have come across a new meaning for family Caregivers, one that I have learned while finishing my masters degree in Leadership and Communication at Gonzaga University and that is the connection Caregivers have to Servant Leadership. With my ministerial background and theology training, I had been looking forward to my class in Servant Leadership. I was not disappointed.
Robert Greenleaf is known as the founder of Servant Leadership and once said: “The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. The conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is a leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions.” While our class in Servant Leadership often focused on Business, Managers and Work Place Culture, I often commented in our classroom discussions about how Caregivers are Servant Leaders, because of our role to serve first, to advocate, to be the voice for those who could not speak, to put ourselves second.
Some of the characteristics of a work-place driven by Servant Leadership is that staff is fully engaged, feel a strong commitment to the cause, find purpose and have passion. Servant Leaders are mindful of the whole, while understanding that people have to feel empowered, lovable, connected and contributing. I see quite a bit of philosophy entwined with Servant Leadership and Caregiving. Caregivers are commitment to the cause, and do find purpose and have passion to care. Caregivers are mindful of their Caree, while understanding that their Caree needs to feel empowered, loved, connected and contributing. Caregiving and Servant Leadership goes hand-in-hand because of the innate ability to think beyond our self.
In essence, we are all Servant Leaders in training and our training in Servant Leadership is on going, it never stops. Servant Leadership is about relationships. Even after Caregiving has ended for me, I still in training, learning how to care for myself, while in the midst of being present to my family, friends and co-workers. Caregiving and Life After Caregiving is about Relationships, too!
I see the connection to Servant Leadership and Caregiving, do you?
Oh…what did being a family Caregiver mean to me? It meant the world! Because in the end, just as in the beginning, we were fortunate to have some of the most meaningful conversations with each other, while spending every second, minute, hour, day, month and year together. I would do it again with him, all over, with no regrets!
Chris MacLellan is the Author of “What’s The Deal With Caregiving” and Host of “Healing Ties: Creating A Life to Love After Caregiving Ends.”
To purchase the book, simply click here!