The Caregiver’s Leadership Series

2011 March 7

As a caregiver, feeling lost quickly becomes the new norm. You know what I’m talking about if all of your previous ways of making sense (when the health of your loved one was seemingly a given that you took for granted and when recovery was a part of your daily vocabulary) no longer make any sense.

But here you are:  No one warned you about what caregiving would really be like. No one told you of life under the influence of care after the well wishes from family and friends. No one fully prepared you for the ongoing and seemingly unending challenges of trying to care for another human being who needs your constant care, let alone others who depend on you for survival, care, attention, and love.

Karl Weick, an organizational communication theorist, in his book, Sensemaking in Organizations, relays an incredible lesson about the importance of leading, even when you don’t know exactly where you are going. In his book, he states:

The young lieutenant of a small Hungarian detachment in the Alps sent a reconnaissance unit into the icy wilderness. It began to snow immediately, snowed for 2 days, and the unit did not return. The lieutenant suffered, fearing that he had dispatched his own people to death.  But on the third day the unit came back. Where had they been? How had they made their way? Yes, they said, we considered ourselves lost and waited for the end. And then one of us found a map in his pocket. That calmed us down. We pitched camp, lasted out the snowstorm, and then with the map we discovered our bearings.  And here we are. The lieutenant borrowed this remarkable map and had a good look at it. He discovered, to his astonishment that it was not a map of the Alps, but of the Pyrenees (p. 54).

If you are a caregiver of any kind, you are a leader. But not all leaders are created equal.  Famous public leaders of government are easy enough to rattle off from pure memory. Civic leaders too. And yes, business leaders, from Donald Trump to Steve Jobs quickly come to mind. But all of these leaders are public leaders. We know little, if anything, of their private lives.  And the skills they used in business or government have little, if any, relevance to the constant challenges you face as a caregiver, in the privacy of your home, dealing with the complicated and oftentimes tension-filled relationships, all the while caring for someone you love who is sick or dying.

For the next several weeks, I’ll focus The Unprepared Caregiver’s facebook and blog entries on the kind of leadership that matters to you most: private leadership (and its challengs) that has nothing to do with profit or public governance, but leadership that is all about love, for those you love, with those you love, and about those you love.

One Response leave one →
  1. March 16, 2011

    love the story about the hungarian troops.. where can i learn more about that story… gino

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