Gary Tetz

I heard a long-term care leader say something so weird the other day, I almost put a cold compress on his forehead and told him to lie down until the paramedics arrive.

The topic was PDPM, otherwise known by me as the Patient-Driven Panic Model. It’s freaking out industry professionals nationwide, many of whom quiver visibly whenever it’s mentioned and no longer sleep without an anesthesiologist present.

This executive was neatly dressed, articulate and well-mannered, masquerading as a sane individual in every visible way. So how did he feel about 2019, and all the massive upheaval afoot?

“Over the last 30 years, we’ve survived a lot of sweeping changes that have threatened our profession,” he said. “So I hate to say it, but we almost get excited when there’s transition and change, because we feel like we can thrive through that.”

So, let me get this straight. While others are sprinkling Xanax on their Lucky Charms every morning, he’s excited? Something clearly wasn’t right with the man.

Had I pulled up a couple of deck chairs and conducted this interview on the Titanic, I can imagine his response: “We almost get excited when we see an iceberg, because it gives us an opportunity to practice our diving.”

After further head-scratching reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s only one group of people for whom such baffling confidence and optimism is remotely natural or normal — those who succeed.

Beloved American poet Mary Oliver, who passed away last week, also had some thoughts to share about this. Perhaps you’ve heard her most famous quote, the one most likely to appear on mugs and motivational posters. “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Note that she didn’t wonder what you’ll do with your “one unfair and painful life,” though for many it’s true. But rather, what wisdom and beauty will you draw from whatever happens? How will you keep moving forward? What will you create from what you’ve learned?

In one of her essays, Oliver describes a childhood afternoon spent wading upstream, rather than down. “The water pushed against my effort, then its glassy permission to step ahead touched my ankles. The sense of going toward the source. I do not think that I ever, in fact, returned home.”

Pushing upstream. Facing the source. Tackling challenges eagerly and head-on, rather than surrendering to the current. That’s the enlightened and infectious attitude and growth mindset of every true leader — even that obviously insane one who can’t wait to thrive through PDPM.

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program. He’s been amusing, inspiring, informing and sometimes befuddling long-term care readers worldwide since the end of a previous century. He is a multimedia consultant for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.