Having a chronic illness sucks. I wish you didn’t have one (or more than one, if that’s the case) and I wish I didn’t have one. If I could wave a wand and cure people’s chronic illnesses, I would do it – now.
However, that said, I have learned, both from coaching people with dozens of different illnesses for the last nine years and from having one myself, what affects how well we feel that I want to share with you. What I’ve learned is that how well we feel when we have a chronic illness doesn’t just depend on how bad our symptoms are on a particular day. There is another factor that has a big effect on how well we feel - sometimes more of an effect than anything else. That factor is our sense of how well we are doing meeting our life and illness challenges.
I want to be really clear here: I’m not saying that we need to do an excellent job meeting our life and illness challenges to feel good about ourselves and life. We don’t. Common sense tells us that how well we do meeting those challenges will depend on how much fatigue we have, how much pain we’re in, and many other things.
But the closer you come to doing the best you can meeting your challenges, and the closer I come to doing the best I can meeting mine, the better we’ll feel.
I first learned about this concept in a two-year masters in management program I went through in the mid 90’s when I was working for a high technology company in Silicon Valley. One of the program’s best instructors told us that one of the two things employees need to know to feel good about working for a company is that it—and everyone in it—is doing the best they can with what they’ve got*. From coaching people with chronic illnesses and from living with one myself, I’ve learned that the same concept that applies to employees in a company also applies to us.
Are you doing the best you can with what you’ve got? If not, what can you do so you are?
Tom Robinson, who has Crohn’s disease himself, helps people with chronic illnesses feel a whole lot better, and then he helps them find inspiring dreams – and achieve them!
*For those who are interested, the other thing Dr. Schmidt told us that employees need to feel good about working for a company is that “We’re all in this together.” In other words, both sacrifices and rewards are shared by everyone.