"" bshawise: Adapt

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Marcus Buckingham's StrengthsFinder program was a big part of my previous job. Hiring decisions were made based on these strengths. Every staff member had a framed list of their top five. It was a part of the culture and every day language. My top strength was/is adaptability. Here is its brief description: People strong in the Adaptability theme prefer to “go with the flow.” They tend to be “now” people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time.

During a staff meeting, many of us were asked to talk about how we thought we developed our top strength. I have no idea really, but I hypothesized aloud that maybe diabetes was to blame. I was thrown a life-changing curve ball at the age of ten and had to adapt. Then, every day from then on required me to adapt to a non-diabetic world. That sounds overly dramatic. Here's an example of what I mean.

Playing sports as a teenager as a diabetic is hard. I was always one of the smallest kids on the field/court so I was constantly scrapping for playing time. It wasn't just given to me. Having a low blood sugar episode at practice or a game was a strike against me because the last thing I needed was the coach thinking I couldn't go 100%. So I'd have to figure out how to solve the problem without drawing attention to myself. The same thing happened at various camps, sleepovers, parties, etc. I was constantly taking a MacGyver approach to blood sugar control.

That (I think) translated to my professional skill set. Much of what I do at the Vineyard involves creating and executing ideas with gum wrappers and paper clips. I love last minute ideas and the thrill of pulling them off. I love change. I love it so much that I constantly want to create change just to mess with people who hate it.

Maybe that comes from my diabetic roots, maybe it doesn't. Here's something I find interesting, however. My love for change and adaptability doesn't translate to my current diabetic maintenance. I operate out of what I learned in sixth grade. New technologies have been developed. I've adopted some. But for the most part I have a way of doing things that "works" for me. And I haven't really changed that system in almost 20 years. The first question people will ask whenever they find out I'm a type 1 diabetic is, "Do you have a pump?" I always answer, "No, I have my own system that works for me." And it does I guess. But for the past couple months, I've been mustering up the courage to ask myself if it really works. And could it work better?

Why do I embrace change with nearly every aspect of my life except the most important? Diabetes is going to kill me one day. It's inevitable and truly I'm OK with it. But I've come to own that I can make changes to keep it from happening earlier than it should. So I've decided to start over. I found a diabetes specialist and in March I am asking her to start from the beginning. I need to relearn everything. I am open to new systems regardless of how different they are from my current one. If that means getting a pump I will. This is no small deal. This is changing a way of life that I've "lived" with every hour of every day for 20 years. And it's way more than just a physical change in how I do things. There are some deep-seated issues that center around pride wrapped up in all this.

But I can change. I am changing and adapting in nearly all aspects of my life right now except one. And it's a big one. So wish me luck. And if there's something big that you need to change in your life, join me. If I can change this- anything's possible.


Clarke said...

awesome. there's no one better to be an advocate for your health than you. the world has a shortage of responsible diabetics - it's almost an oxymoron. so kudos brad, kudos.

tyler said...

Finally, ze pump. Ask for one that let's you run 10K's.

Christopher Day said...

"I love change. I love it so much that I constantly want to create change just to mess with people who hate it."

That's me! Does that make us big jerks? Or does that just make us the messengers and catalysts for those people who need help thinking outside their box?

John Arns said...

You hit it exactly, Chris. You're a catalyst for change and for provoking dynamic thought. you may cause some to leave their comfort zones on occasion, but that's good. everyone needs that. you're definitely NOT a jerk. neither you nor Brad.