I visited my mother yesterday at the memory care facility she lives in. I try to visit her every day for at least 30-45 minutes. I’ve learned the times that work best for her as far as her mood. The later in the afternoon it gets, the worse it gets due to her “sun downers.” The prime time is between 1:00 and 3:30, so that is my new goal.
On this particular visit, I was Jaime. Jaime was her brother. He was only one year younger in age and a doctor. He was someone she trusted implicitly and was very close to. With dementia, important people sometimes get mixed up when the synapses decide to go wonky. I used to try to correct all the time..now I just go with it and enjoy the time.
Since I was Jaime, the conversation we had for 40 minutes was solely in Espanol. Although I tried to work out of it, we always returned to it quickly. When you’re dealing with a dementia patient, they are in control of the conversation, so I submitted to that fate. My Espanol is decent, yet it is tested mightily in conversation. I’ve learned to be able to say the same words and sentences enough times that I sound better than I am in a prolonged conversation. That being said, a funny thing happens when you’re “immersed” in a conversation in a different language. You must conform and get better. Fast.
My wife and I have hosted 8 Rotary Exchange students over the years. Each one has told us that the quickest way they learn English is to totally immerse themselves in it. That means conversations, television shows, and movies. The more they force themselves into the immersion, the more initial “pain” they have, yet the more short-lived that “pain” really is. They learn to become proficient and grow in confidence through their success. Likewise for me, even my brief conversation in Spanish with Mom forced me into an immersion. By the end, I was feeling more confident and certainly being more successful, even if I was still making a few mistakes.
Business success starts with its own “immersion.” In order to rapidly improve and enhance your business and yourself, you must force yourself to grow, even if its initially painful. Any time you go through quick change, you may suffer the same growing pains as a teenage boy over the summer of his 15th year. The reason many people avoid being immersed is because they are afraid of that pain; are embarrassed to show vulnerability; or perhaps don’t really have the passion for it.
Do yourself a favor. If you want to become a superstar in sales, immerse yourself in some program or coach that will help you get there quickly. If you want to have leadership qualities that others would give their right arm for, immerse yourself in a program or coach that will extract every inch of skill and talent out of you. Don’t put it off by saying you need to accomplish something else first. That’s procrastination and it only wastes time. Put up with the immersion and you will find you will more quickly reach your goals.
I plan on immersing myself into my Spanish every time I see my mother, even if I do have to be Jaime. Are you ready to make the same commitment with your career and life?
P.S. The most successful business professionals never quit learning. They constantly immerse themselves in something new. Don’t tell me you’ve got it all covered. You can always learn more.
© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
Dan, wonderful photograph. As a former Registered Nurse from UK, working in the medical field for ten years before taking a serve to the right….your expression of working with dementia patients is so beautiful. Your Mother will everyday be appreciating your brilliant (UK term) communication with her. Thank you for writing on this topic….will be extraordinarily helpful to many others in a similar situation. Warmly, Liz de Clifford
Muchas gracias, Liz!
Excellent post, Dan. As I try to learn a new language, French, I understand so much more about my relationships in business and with my family. What a learning tool.