Regular readers of this blog know a couple of things about me.
For one thing, they know I live in Florida, having moved here from Upstate NY two years ago, no longer willing to freeze my cabungus off during the winter. (Or, as my husband phrases it, “you don’t have to shovel 90 degrees!”)
They also know many of my blog posts are metaphorical, based on inspiration I get from my daily life which at times is well, yes, pretty darn metaphorical!
And thus we set the stage for today’s post – The Sinkhole. Pure Florida. Pure Metaphor. See what you think.
After spending the past several days in Chicago for the APHA Chicago Summits, I returned home late last night to a quiet and peaceful neighborhood, just as it should be.
And this morning, all hell broke loose.
As I took my little puppy dog for his morning walk, I encountered several neighbors blocking the road to prevent anyone from driving up to, in to, or over a newly formed sinkhole. Sure enough – about 100 yards from my house – a small hole in the road.
As I write this post, a few hours hours later, the sinkhole is 10 times that size. It doesn’t appear there is any danger of losing any homes, thank heavens. Looks like we’ll just lose more of the road, curbing and possibly part of the golf course behind it.
Sinkholes happen all the time here in Florida. They are not at all unusual. The biggest problem with the early hours of a sinkhole formation is the impossible-to-answer question about how much bigger it will get. What will it eventually swallow? A few years ago, about 100 miles from here, a young man died when a sinkhole swallowed his home – while he was sleeping in it. Could that happen again?
And so we will wait and see.
Am I nervous? Yeah. A little.
As a result, sinkholes as metaphors are on my mind, and the very nature of them has taken on an entirely new thought pattern in my head, as follows….
Sinkholes are unexpected, start small, grow larger, and destroy everything above them. They result from an insidious erosion that no one has attended to (because no one knew to pay attention), they destroy the foundation underneath whatever they have swallowed, and the only way to fix them is to wait for them to stop getting bigger, then to try to fill them in, restore the function of whatever was above and around them, and get on with life.
Which, for those of you who have read any of my writing, or who have heard me speak about the absolute necessity of establishing a strong business foundation in order to build a strong advocacy practice – is metaphorical and a half.
And which, after spending several days in Chicago with a group comprised of very strong and successful advocates mixed with some newbies, too, is now foremost in my mind.
Because, almost every day, someone who could have been a great advocate, who was surprised to realize her practice (and bank account) were being eroded and swallowed up uncontrollably, who wasn’t sure how to stop that erosion, who could have improved the lives of dozens or hundreds of patients who needed her help, and who must now instead fill in the holes of her own life, her savings, and her psyche – is stepping away from advocacy practice.
It breaks my heart to see that destruction! This horrible outcome destroys not just the hopes and dreams of the advocate, but possibly the future of those clients she would have helped too.
And why? Too often because she brushes off the idea that the early years of building a strong advocacy practice are more about learning to be a competent business person than doing advocacy work. That’s just the way it is.
And so, as the saga of our neighborhood sinkhole continues, I am dedicating it to all of you ostriches who have dismissed the notion that you need to build a strong business because you think you’ll be the one person for whom that caveat won’t apply.
Wake up and smell the cautionary tale! Learn everything you can about building a strong, solid foundation for your practice. Take courses, read books, join organizations, find a mentor, get certified… do what it takes so you can be free to do the advocacy you hope to do on into the future.
Uh-oh! Just got word another big chunk of the road has fallen victim to the sinkhole!
I truly hope it won’t be a metaphor for YOUR practice.
The photo at the top of the page is my actual neighborhood sinkhole within an hour of it being discovered. It’s now almost as wide as the street. One neighbor, a drone pilot, took some fascinating footage where you can see down inside it. Very interesting!
The photo of the house was pulled from Pinterest, taken in Pasco County, about 75 miles from here.