All That – But Missing Your Bag of Chips?

Over the years, I’ve met, discussed, emailed, pleaded, and thrown my hands up at (probably) hundreds of advocates who have never truly become professional, independent, practicing advocates.

They might have told you they were/are advocates. They SAID they were in business. But their efforts were half-hearted. They didn’t ever ACTIVELY go into business. Instead they joined an organization, or set up a website, or printed business cards, or told their friends they were in business… they might even have listed themselves in a directory or two…

But it was all very half-hearted. Why? Because of that idea that they weren’t “all that” (and a bag of chips!)… fear that others would judge that they don’t really know what they are talking about, that someone might think they are…

Impostors!
(shudder the thought!)

I’ve written about Impostor Syndrome before, along with 10 ways to get beyond it. Those of you who feel like impostors know how you are!

Today we’re going to take it a step further.

Too many advocates who are willing to work past their fear of being “found out” decide that the way to fix that is to “improve” themselves.

Yes – “improve oneself” – as in… you take more courses, or you read another book, or you interview more people who represent clients, or you add more pages to your website, or you read more blog posts, or you chat your day away in the discussion forum… you get what I mean.

Those are all, simply, delay tactics, except that they don’t feel like it, because you feel like you are DOING something, ACCOMPLISHING something. But all you are really accomplishing is procrastination.

One gentleman, a nurse, decided that he didn’t know enough, so he returned to school to complete his advanced nursing degree. Another woman decided she needed to learn how to develop her website herself, so instead of starting her business, she took web development courses at her local community college. Still another decided she needed to learn all the advocacy skills she didn’t already have – medical bill negotiating, mediation, and others – so then she would be ready go into business.

None of them – not one of them – ever really did get started. I have no idea what they are doing today.

Voltaire

Yes, that’s Voltaire.

BTW, he could have used an advocate at the end of his life!

Just think of those, potentially, thousands of patients who therefore never got the help they needed. Why? Because an advocate felt like he or she didn’t have enough knowledge to actually begin helping people.

Is this you? Are you afraid you don’t know enough? Are you procrastinating because you feel like people will figure out you are an impostor?

It’s time to invoke Voltaire…

Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien.

–or– in English —

Perfect is the enemy of the good.

Simply put: too many new advocates are stunned into procrastination because they think they aren’t ready to be professional advocates, or more likely, they are afraid they will make mistakes.

So, instead of getting past their paralysis of analysis, or their fears of being called out as impostors, or any of those other delay tactics, they decide to try to achieve “perfect”.

It’s such a great excuse! But that’s ALL it is. An excuse. A delay tactic.

PERFECT is impossible. And, clearly, within the advocacy or care management professions, the attempt to become perfect is the enemy of patients who need those advocates.

So, let’s turn perfect upside down.

First – can we define “perfect” within advocacy?

No – we can’t. But our clients can! And to them, when we have improved their situations, then we have done our jobs perfectly.

Is perfect absolute? Absolutely NOT. Because yes, there will always be something BETTER. For example, if your client is diagnosed with cancer, and you improve her journey by helping her learn what she can, get the information she needs to make her own decisions, make sure her appointments go well, etc… great. But BETTER would be to find out she didn’t have cancer at all. Or, your client comes to you with a $50,000 hospital bill and you’re able to get 90% of it forgiven. BETTER would be making the whole thing disappear.

As long as you adhere to advocacy and care manager ethics and standards, it would be almost impossible for you to do anything but improve your client’s journey. Anything you can provide is bound to be better than what they have now!

So doing GOOD is what is required. Being perfect is not.

Can you do a better job of your work? Can you be perfect? Yes – and no. If you look at our definition of “perfect” above – then you will have met the letter of the definition when your client has benefited, and appreciates your work. But the very best of advocates (truly of all professionals) know they learn from almost every interaction with every client and know that next time, they’ll do even better. That’s one of the ways they grow their businesses.

As an independent advocate or care manager, your goal should be to provide your clients with GOOD.

Forget “perfect” – except as a long-time goal that should always be just beyond your reach.

And so I say, go forth now, my almost-perfect reader! You know what you need to know. Now get going – and advocate!

THAT is your bag of chips!


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2 thoughts on “All That – But Missing Your Bag of Chips?”

  1. Thank you for this reminder Trisha. I sometimes find myself falling into the trap of thinking I can’t fully provide for, or help my client if I don’t know 100% of everything there is to know on the topic…but we will never know 100% of anything!! Just gotta get dirty and get to work!

  2. Theresa Bessette

    You have described me “perfectly”. Classes, workshops, and yes taught myself to build a website. I seriously considered enrolling in a Python programming class – stall tactics, for sure. Thank you for helping me to see this for what it is. Time to get to work; just doing my best.

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