As is the way of these things, my little people are getting bigger. Early each year I’m puzzled by changed age groups in sports and dancing. How can Girl1 be ‘Under14′ and Girl2 be ‘Under13’?
Under14 dancing has different requirements- and I don’t just mean the jig set dance (nope, me neither). I mean the make up. Girl1 went dancing on Saturday before a competition, except there was no dancing. There was a beauty parlour in the back room, with Girl1 and her mate as the subjects. The bigger girls wheeled out make up bags and curling tongs and set to work. Great fun was had, with the dance teacher occasionally popping her head round the door and demanding more blusher. The girls looked great, wondered if their eyebrows had been coloured in because they felt weird, and danced just as well as they normally do.
Have you spotted the problem yet? This level of attention to appearance is now a requirement. I’m going to have to help do it. Me, in charge of somebody else’s make up and fancy hair do. A whole new story opens up.
Our stories change over time. I used to talk about education and employment for ex prisoners, then I could do nothing, not even talk about doing nothing apart from lying on the sofa. ME took much from me.
Eventually I started to tell my mother’s story, as the one thing I could do about her illness, and I realised that my themes of isolation, loss, grief, families as experts in rare disease, bewilderment & lack of support were common to many other stories. Like herself, her story was unique, but the issues it illustrated were common to many.
Unfortunately, they still are, and I’m still telling stories to try and change that.
Why stories and not graphs and stats and charts and plans? For the same reasons I rarely use text in presentations: I’m the different voice in the room; why would I want to look the same? If I get the chance to talk to health service managers, it’s because I have something different to say. An alternative viewpoint merits alternative presentation- one that looks like ‘me’ rather than ‘how the system works’. (Also, I don’t have graphs or charts or plans.)
So, imagine my delight when I discovered that ‘how the system works’ doesn’t work anyway.
“What the leader cares about (and typically bases at least 80% of his or her message to others on) does not tap into roughly 80% of the workforce’s primary motivators for putting extra energy into the change programme.”
Scott Keller and Carolyn Aiken (2009)
The Inconvenient Truth about Change Management*
Me and my story will potter on, sometimes talking about my mum and rare disease, sometimes talking about ME, sometimes talking about transformed relationships- always talking about valuing of the patient experience and time.
“Health statistics represent people with the tears wiped off”
Austin Bradford Hill
I talk about the people and the tears.
How do you tell your story?
What difference does it make?
* from Module 2 Building Alliances for Change, School for Health & Care Radicals 2015 #SHCR