Building your skillset for stronger resiliency
Resiliency to rise from the ashes requires community and several attainable skills
Veterinary professionals are regularly tested by one weighty issue after another: from staffing shortages, to a changing business model, a historically hierarchal culture, and more. Betsy Charles, DVM, MA, a change and leadership guru, offered a reality check to attendees at the Fetch dvm360® Conference in San Diego, California: “The only thing that is certain is change.”1
Persevering and remaining resilient through that change, or rising from the ashes, Charles said, requires acknowledging the uncertainty and navigating the tension between the good and terrible. Developing the skillsets to do this, allows one to get up again and again, and have the strength for the long haul.
Charles learned this lesson from both professional and anguishing personal experiences. An industry veteran, she has a Master’s degree in organizational leadership and is the executive director of the Veterinary Leadership Institute. In 2019, her husband of more than 25 years, died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a disease that she said, “takes everything.”
Where and how does one begin this quest for resiliency?
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. And in that space is our power to choose our response. In that response lies our growth and freedom,” said Charles, quoting psychiatrist Victor Frankl.
Charles identified several skillsets that can help those in veterinary medicine find their power and growth in that space. Simultaneously, the skill may help to change what has been the historic norm for the field, which Charles has previously described as a culture of fear, in which vulnerability is perceived as a weakness.
Veterinary medicine is a profession in which vulnerability is usually seen as weakness. Wearing metaphorical masks are common and it is often terrifying to live in to who we truly are. However, according to Charles, vulnerability creates space to grow and build trust.
“Don’t be afraid to show what you don’t know,” Charles stated.
Being curious is a skillset. Charles said, “Ask good questions without judgment. Open and honest questions that you don’t know the answer to.” Find common ground with others by asking them to help you understand, or to tell you what they need.
Thoughts and sentences that begin with “I wonder,” “What if,” and “Let’s try,” help to stake out that common ground.
Whether its listening to yourself and people around you, create an environment where the other person feels heard using prompts such as “go on,” “tell me more,” and “keep talking.”
Ultimately, resiliency to rise from the ashes is not a solo sport, which can be a challenging concept for an industry filled with independent people. She said, “The research on this is unequivocal. You must do it through community. You have to share; you have to connect with community.”
Charles, B. Rising from the ashes. Presented at: Fetch dvm360® Conference; San Diego, California. December 2-4, 2022.