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Bozeman Health News

Section: News

Keep Calm and Carry On


Dear Bozeman Health Community,

You see it everywhere now, but the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On” was how British households were encouraged to cope with the deprivations of World War II. First developed in 1939, it was intended to strengthen public morale in the event of an attack or other wartime disasters. The saying has come to symbolize a certain British stoicism – traits such as “stiff upper lip,” perseverance, and remaining calm in the face of adversity. In other words, resilience.

Resilience in the workplace is just as important today as it was in the streets of 1930s England. In modern parlance, resilience refers to our ability to adjust to change and bounce back from challenges and stress. It is a critical trait for people in our line of work. Those of us on the frontline of healthcare face highly emotional human encounters on a weekly or even daily basis. Health care is rapidly changing, the community expectation of health delivery and value is transitioning, and Bozeman Health is evolving in unique and important ways. We have the privilege and honor to adapt and transform Bozeman Health to meet the growing health needs of the communities we serve. And yet we know, change is complex and stressful, often challenging our resolve and commitment to ‘Carry On’.

The World Health Organization has identified stress as the most significant health threat of the 21st century. We see its effects here at Bozeman Health. For the past 3 years, change fatigue or 'burn out' has been a major factor in the organization. We know that some of our people are feeling uncertain about the past and the future of the organization and perhaps even about their own ability live up to the expectations inherent in our Culture of Excellence.

First, I invite you to please take a brief moment to reflect and connect with your breath. We know that it is going to be OK. You are going to be OK. You are here because we need you, our patients need you, and the community needs you. Everyone working with Bozeman Health brings value, regardless of your role. Leaders and experts are equally valued and needed to successfully navigate change.

Second, be kind to yourself. Resist the quest for perfection. Don’t try to control that which is uncontrollable. Focus on the small changes that can make a big difference in yours or someone else’s day. Third, consider ways you could become more resilient in the face of change. Because in this day and age, change is the only constant.

Studies around resilience have identified some key traits in those best able to navigate change:

Strong social networks: High-quality relationships are critical to resilience. People with strong connections at work are more resistant to stress and they are happier in their roles.

Self-care and recovery: Being kind to ourselves is key to resilience. Take time to re-fill the tank. Get enough sleep, take time for some exercise, and treat yourself well. A little self-forgiveness goes a long way.

Mindfulness: We all have bad days and crises, and we each have a choice in how we respond. We can choose to panic or we can remain calm and think things through logically. Practice positive thinking. Hold pragmatic space in your mind. Be authentic. Listen to how you speak to yourself when you encounter a change or challenge. Would you speak to a friend or loved one the same way?

Control what you can: Put your efforts in the areas where you can have the most impact. People who spend time worrying about uncontrollable events often feel lost, helpless and powerless. Resilient people don’t think of themselves as victims – they focus on changing the things they have control over.

Bozeman Health recently delivered resiliency training to the organization’s leaders, and we will roll the training out to all levels of the organization in the coming months and years. In the meantime, I ask each one of you to consider how we can maintain civility, wonderment, and curiosity during times of change and stress. We want people to be OK with who they are, to be more open and inquisitive, to experience authentic engagement.

Maintaining enduring joy, gratitude and an attitude of service does not necessarily require a grand gesture or permanent life change. Small, simple changes can have a big effect. Being compassionate with ourselves and each other, taking a moment to recover from a stressful interaction, or being aware of our own patterns of thinking can make a big difference. It’s by cultivating these traits that we will truly achieve a Culture of Excellence.

My very best -