Coffee Break -Michelle Troseth & Tracy Christopherson

EP 10: The Power of Polarity Intelligence in Healthcare Leadership

Summary: 

The demands on healthcare leaders continue to intensify, and a comprehensive approach to address burnout and promote work-life balance has never been more pressing.

In this episode, Michelle Troseth and Tracy Christopherson, co-founders of MissingLogic, introduce the concept of polarity intelligence in healthcare leadership, emphasizing the need for balance and well-being. They discuss the interdependent nature of polarities, highlighting the importance of maintaining a balanced mindset and effective communication for addressing complex challenges in healthcare. Michelle and Tracy believe it is crucial to recognize early warning signs and set boundaries to ensure the well-being and optimal performance of healthcare leaders. They delve into strategies such as the dynamic balance blueprint, pointing out the need for proactive planning and individual well-being to achieve a harmonious balance between professional and personal life.

Tune in to learn about how to uphold the importance of supporting leaders in their pursuit of a fulfilling work-life balance!

About Michelle Troseth and Tracy Christopherson:

Michelle and Tracy have been interprofessional leaders, friends, and colleagues for over 30 years. They are co-hosts of a top healthcare leadership podcast, Healthcare’s MissingLogic Podcast.

Michelle and Tracy have a combined experience of more than 60 years working as consultants and coaches for healthcare organizations across North America, supporting healthcare leaders as they strive to create healthy, healing work cultures. They frequently speak at national and international leadership conferences on the topics of managing polarities, achieving work-life balance, and living a resilient life.

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Coffee Break – Michelle Troseth and Tracy Christopherson: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

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Renee Thompson:
Plants thrive and grow in a peaceful, nourished environment, right? Well, it's the same with human beings. But what if that environment is not so peaceful? What if it's toxic? Welcome to Coffee Break: Breaking the Cycle of Bullying in Healthcare – One Cup at a Time. In this podcast, you'll get practical, evidence-based strategies to help you cultivate and sustain a healthy and respectful work culture by tackling an age-old problem in healthcare: bullying and incivility. I am your host, Dr. Renee Thompson.

Renee Thompson:
Well, hi everyone! Welcome back to the Coffee Break podcast. We talk a lot about bullying and incivility. I'm going to tell you one of the sisters in that group is burnout, and bullying, incivility, burnout, they happen because they can, and it really takes dedicated leaders like you to actually do something about it. And that's really what this podcast is all about, is giving you the tools and the strategies and the resources that you need to actually address these issues that are so prevalent now in healthcare. And today, I have a special treat for you. Today, I'm excited to actually welcome Michelle Troseth and Dr. Tracy Christopherson to our show, who are going to talk about burnout as it relates to polarity intelligence. So let me say that phrase again, polarity intelligence. I cannot wait to have this conversation. So welcome, Michelle and Tracy.

Michelle Troseth:
Oh, thank you, Renee. It is so great to be here. We know we're with a treasured colleague and a dear friend, and we are looking so forward to being on your podcast today.

Tracy Christopherson:
Yes, indeed. Thanks so much for inviting us.

Renee Thompson:
I've been looking forward to this day for a really long time. And just to officially introduce Michelle and Tracy, they are co-founders of MissingLogic. They equip leaders with the missing logic to combat burnout and create and sustain work-life balance and healthy work environments. They've been interprofessional leaders, friends, and colleagues for over 30 years. They are co-hosts of a top healthcare leadership podcast called Healthcare's MissingLogic Podcast, and I've been a guest on their show, and their podcast is just fantastic, just so you know. Well, with the combined experience of more than 60 years, and I was trying to do the math here between you two because you don't look a day over about 30, 40. Okay, I'm just saying.

Tracy Christopherson:
Bless you. Bless you. I'm right there with you.

Renee Thompson:
But they've been working as consultants and coaches. They really strive to create healthy and healing work cultures. They have this framework, it's called Dynamic Balance Effect Framework, which is designed to help healthcare leaders create work-life balance, live with intention, and be their best self at work and at home through their leadership, coaching, and mentoring programs. And they are the authors of a new book called Polarity Intelligence: The Missing Logic in Leadership. Polarity intelligence helps leaders overcome conflict, diverse perspectives, and persistent problems, which is central to their success in all areas of life. And I know one more thing about these fabulous ladies, they like good wine, okay? I'm just saying, we have a love fest for good wine, and they have really mentored me into some of the finer wines. So I appreciate everything about you ladies, and so, just thrilled to have you on the show.

Tracy Christopherson:
That's right.

Michelle Troseth:
Life is too short to drink bad wine.

Renee Thompson:
Couldn't agree, I could not agree with you more. So okay, I mentioned, and I said it twice, polarity intelligence, and we're talking about how does this relate to burnout and leadership well-being. So ladies, what is polarity intelligence? And can you talk a little bit about this so our listeners can get a true understanding of what it is and how it impacts their well-being?

Tracy Christopherson:
Yeah, sure. Well, I'll start. This is Tracy, and Michelle can add, but I think it, to explain polarity intelligence, we first have to start with polarities. So a polarity is an interdependent pair of values or points of view perspectives, and they appear to be contradictory or maybe even opposites to each other, but they actually need each other over time in order to achieve a greater purpose. Now, the best way for me to really explain this is to use a very, a polarity that our body manages for us every day, all day, and that's inhaling and exhaling. So we have to inhale, and we have to exhale to sustain life. We can't over-focus on inhaling, or we're going to die. And if we over-focus on exhaling, we're going to die, right? So, one of the things that we know about polarities is that interdependent pair, right, we have to have both. So it really is about both and thinking. And there will be consequences, guaranteed 100%, if you overemphasize one pole and you neglect the other. And so this is kind of a logic that most people experienced or have experienced, but they don't know what it is, they don't know how to explain it, and they don't know how it works. So, understanding what a polarity is and differentiating that from a problem is kind of one of the first things when it comes to polarity intelligence, and that's a big part of a polarity mindset. So one of the pillars in polarity intelligence is having a polarity mindset, right? And that is being able to differentiate between a problem and a polarity, and then know and understand that there's an invisible energy force that works between them. It separates them because they are separate entities. These values are perspectives, but it also binds them together, and you have to leverage that energy to get to that greater purpose. So polarity mindset is the first component. Now, polarity intelligence is really about, one, understanding that polarities exist, understanding the principles that operate within polarities, but it's also about being able to overcome our own personal biases, to be open and receptive to understanding a perspective that appears to be opposing or contradictory, and it's doing it in an unconscious way. Like we want polarity intelligence to be just like problem-solving is for leaders, right? We just problem-solve. We've learned to problem solve since the time we were kids. So we really want it to be kind of an unconscious competence that they develop, alright? Now, the other, Michelle, you want to talk about the other two components of polarity intelligence?

Michelle Troseth:
So we know that having a polarity mindset, Renee, is not enough, but there's two other really important components, and one is healthy relationships, and the other one is meaningful dialogue. Now the relationships are really important, especially like Tracy described the opposites, they seem opposing. Well, you need to be able to have cultivate healthy relationships, engage with important relationship skills, be intentional with your relationships, see the capacity in other people as an example, and come together around that shared purpose in your relationship. So right now, in healthcare, so many relationships are transactional. In fact, you've seen data that it's become more transactional. So it's even more important that we're very intentional because healthy relationships are transformational. And then the dialogue component is also really important. You can't deal with competing priorities, and you can't deal with polarities if you cannot engage with another person in dialogue. So that takes great listening, candor, and diplomacy, which is really important to your work with bullying. How do I do that? And so again, being intentional in our conversation. So when you combine having a polarity mindset, having healthy relationships, and engaging in meaningful dialogue, that combination helps to, helps leaders to become polarity intelligent.

Renee Thompson:
So I'm curious about this, and I don't know if it's similar, but my brain goes immediately to this phenomenon, I guess. There are some people who are what I would consider binary thinkers. They love you, they hate you, everything is great, everything is awful, and I see those as polar opposites with no gray in between. Is that similar? And is that something that a leader can recognize their own polarity thinking maybe, or their mindset, and then recognize that? Wait a minute, wait a minute. These are just opposites. The love, the hate, great, awful, it's just a polarity, and maybe life really isn't that way, but there's that gray in the middle. I don't know, I'm just, that was the first thing that I thought about when you were talking about that, kind of like the opposites.

Tracy Christopherson:
Yeah, yeah. Well, and we're taught to be binary thinkers. From the time we're little, right? We're taught, and as we grow up, that, you know, when there is a challenge, even in school, as an example, right? You take a test, there's a right and a wrong.

Michelle Troseth:
True,

Tracy Christopherson:
Right? And even when you think about starting your life out as an adult, do I hack through Europe, or do I go to school? Do I have a career, or do I have kids?

Renee Thompson:
Right.

Tracy Christopherson:
So we're taught to think either-or, binary, right? And then we also kind of build up this defense when we feel like our answer isn't right.

Renee Thompson:
Exactly.

Tracy Christopherson:
There's a right answer and a wrong answer. And that's where we get that binary piece. One is right, and one is wrong. But in polarities, both are equally important, and both are right. So not everything that's opposite is a polarity, they have to have an interdependent relationship, and they have an interdependent relationship, right? You're getting to something greater when you have both than when you don't have both. Look at, in healthcare, look at staffing. You have to recruit and retain to have the most optimal high-performing staff, right? You can't just retain, and you can't just recruit. And there's a downside if you overemphasize one and you neglect the other, right? So that's an example of an interdependent relationship. You have to have both. And when we try to use binary thinking and say no, we just have to recruit, we're going to end up experiencing a negative consequence because of that.

Renee Thompson:
I totally get it now because I wasn't exactly sure how, that's why I said I was curious about that. But you're right, and those are great examples because we see this show up all the time, and especially in healthcare, and that's our audience right now. But I'm curious how this all relates to well-being, especially for the leaders, because in my world, what I'm hearing, and I know you're dealing with this too, is the emphasis is on the staff, it's on the team and making sure that we're supporting the team and we're recognizing the team, and we're doing all these great things. But what about the leader? The leader isn't always being the one who's getting the support that they need. So I'm really curious, and I'd love to hear more about your work with healthcare leaders using polarity intelligence.

Michelle Troseth:
Well, we asked ourselves that same question, Renee. And when the pandemic hit, we saw a lot of attention on the front line and the teams. We saw leaders worrying, oh man, they were so worried about their teams, and we knew it was going to be a matter of time before the leaders were really going to be struggling, because they are the linchpin of the system. And we knew we, the leaders are so important, and so we really need to help the leaders, so we turned our attention exclusively to the leaders. For the last three years, we've been working with leaders, and we started just with them, what they needed for them to understand how important caring for themself was first so that they could care for others. And through that work, we developed the Thriving, Resilient, Unstoppable Leader program, and it's not an overnight, it's not a class, it's really giving them the tools to understand that there are many polarities working on them and in them, and one of the core ones we help them with, work-life balance, is balancing their professional life and their personal life, as well as self-care and caring for others. And there's several personal polarities that are really important for leaders to pay attention to, and then really recognize what are the barriers that are stopping me from being the best leader that I can be.

Renee Thompson:
Yeah. And can you talk a little bit about, because I could imagine a leader is listening to this right now, and they may be thinking, wait, you want to talk about my work-life balance? I can barely, my whole day is focused on making sure I have enough staff so that I'm not working my department. Why do you think it's important for leaders, especially now, to really start taking a look at how they look at work-life balance? Because I don't think they do. I think they're so, you know, they're up to their necks in everything that they're responsible for, that it's hard for them to do that. Why is this so important now?

Tracy Christopherson:
Yeah, well, I think you bring up a good point. It's what we've always done as leaders. Servant leaders serve everybody, put everybody else before myself, therefore, I neglect myself. And I think one of the things that we're trying to bring around work-life balance is that many people don't believe it exists to begin with, right? Never been able to achieve it, so therefore just not possible for me, doesn't exist. I'm just going to keep doing what I've always done and hope things will get better, right? And what they have to recognize that that this is a polarity. And one of the key things to recognize about polarities is they're ongoing. Yeah, they're not like problems, you solve them, and they go away. Polarities are always going to be there. And what is most important is to recognize and respect the tension between work and home and how to leverage that tension. When you don't understand and respect that relationship, you won't be able to leverage them to get the best life you could possibly have. And so what we're trying to bring is we have to shift how we look at it. And we don't want to just continue and settle, thinking I'll never have that thriving life at home, right? I'm always, this is how it's always going to be for me. I'm always going to have to give all of my energy to work. Well, there are always times when the different aspects of our life are going to draw our attention to it, and there's going to be more attention. Just look at the pandemic, right?

Renee Thompson:
Right.

Tracy Christopherson:
So there's, that's always going to happen. What we're trying to teach is that balance is not 50/50, it's dynamic. And we want them to be able to serve and to be that incredible leader that they want to be, and be with their family, be present in their life, make a difference for their children, their spouses, their communities, have that fulfilling life at home while they have it at work. And they think it's not possible because they've just never been able to do it, but they weren't looking at it through this kind of a lens and understanding this is a natural law. You can't avoid this, and you can't ignore it. It's a law, right? Just like gravity holds you to the Earth.

Renee Thompson:
Yes, it does.

Tracy Christopherson:
This is a law. So that's why it's so important.

Renee Thompson:
It's interesting. I've been having some conversations recently. I am totally, when you talk about the leader who doesn't think that they can have work-life balance, they have so much work to do, I am so guilty of that. And I know many entrepreneurs, I used to say, I haven't taken a day off and, since I started this company, and then I caught myself like, what am I saying this? And even when I do take some time to be with my grandbabies, there's a part of me that feels guilty when I know my team is working and I'm playing Candyland and Chutes and Ladders with a little Miss Olivia, but I'm catching myself now. I am catching myself. And I just had a conversation the other day with my daughter, who works for us, and she had mentioned about working on the weekends, she's full-time, and don't worry, I'm going to work on the weekend, and I'm going to do this, and I'm going to do that. And I finally said to her, I said, Court, here's the deal. If you want to take time, like because I went and got my hair cut, so I'm going to work Saturday. I said, Court, I'm not tracking your hours here. And don't you think maybe you should start taking a look at setting some boundaries? Allow yourself to have the weekend off. If there's something you want to work on for an hour, okay, but it was almost as though she was justifying. I took a couple of hours to get my hair done, so I'm going to work all weekend, and I'm trying to be a better role model, first of all, for my team, taking, I started taking Sundays off as sort of a development day for myself so I can read, I can do all those things, but I'm not allowed to answer email and do all that other stuff. But I think this is such a common issue. And you're right, Tracy, we've just, it's the way it's always been done for.

Tracy Christopherson:
It's a norm, norm, and.

Renee Thompson:
It is the norm.

Michelle Troseth:
When Tracy was explaining that, I was going to say, you know, Renee, the same thing goes for entrepreneurs because we work with a lot of entrepreneurs as well, and it's the same principles, the same. And look at us, okay? MissingLogic, we put out a book, we've got coaching programs, and we have to be very intentional with each other. We help support each other. And we even recently said, as a team, how are we going to manage the change and stability polarity? Because we have a lot of change going on right now. So we actually put, we used our polarity intelligence to move through that time, and it's a polarity that's never going to go away, but we have, like organizations or anyone, you have a lot of change that you got to pay attention to what you're doing to keep the things stable that are most important at that time. And I love that you're listening to the language, because that really helps you stop the pattern, pause, make a different choice, and that's what will lead to changing those norms that Tracy mentioned.

Tracy Christopherson:
Well, there are some studies, too, Michelle, that have come out by AONL in relationship to why it's so important right now.

Michelle Troseth:
So AONL has done a great job of just tracking nurse leaders through the pandemic, and they're burnt out. They're, a large percentage of them want to leave. We listen to them on a weekly basis, and they are so burned out. And actually, we probably can put a plug-in for our blog we wrote for you, Renee, back in September … all that data in it … because it's so true.

Tracy Christopherson:
It is.

Renee Thompson:
It is. And I think, again, we focus so much on our staff being burned out, but nobody's really taking a look at the leaders who are burned out. And even, you said the language and the words that we use. I just read an article the other day that said, if you ask ten people, hey, how are you? Eight of them will say, busy.

Michelle Troseth:
Oh, without a doubt.

Renee Thompson:
Busy.

Tracy Christopherson:
Yeah, badge of honor, man. The busier I am, the better.

Renee Thompson:
Guilty, Oh my God. Oh my, I have so much work to do. Oh my God, this is, this, today's going to be a rough day. Do you, look, I have no white space on my calendar. How many of us do that?

Tracy Christopherson:
Yes. It's a habit.

Michelle Troseth:
Yes.

Renee Thompson:
And without being thoughtful, it is a habit, but how do we set some boundaries and not make it so that we're, I don't know, we almost create this ourselves? So.

Tracy Christopherson:
We do, they're leadership norms, like I said, right? And there are a number of them that people follow, and they're norms, they're unconscious. We've been indoctrinated with them from the time we became leaders. And it's role models for us, right? And then it becomes that norm, and you don't dare go against the norm, right? So there's some stigma to that as well, right? And so that's, some of the other work that Michelle and I, our intention is to bust through these norms. Let's establish new leadership norms where health and well-being is essential for a leader, where work-life balance is totally supported, right? Because they have to be able to role model for the staff.

Renee Thompson:
They do.

Tracy Christopherson:
And if they don't role model, the staff don't know how to do that either, right? And they can't be their best selves at work if they're burnt out, exhausted, overwhelmed, they can't use good critical thinking and judgment. They can't help combat incivility, right? Like they don't have the bandwidth to manage all of that. So it's essential to the success of the organization and to the health and well-being, not only the staff, but the people they serve as well.

Renee Thompson:
Yeah, and I remember this. You're so right, and I can already hear the chatter from some of the people who are listening right now, because this happened to me when I was a frontline manager, and it was the most stress I've ever been under, okay, when I was that manager. I would come in at 6:00 in the morning to, you know, meet my night staff, sometimes I'd stay till 11:00 at night. I had two kids at home. I was doing work, this is when we do, like, performance evaluations on paper. I did every single performance evaluation, either at my kitchen table on the weekend or in the stands watching my girls play softball, okay, but because I had to get it done. And I'll never forget the time it was 3:00, I had been there since 6:00. All right, already more than eight hours. When you're in a leadership role, you don't get paid for, per hour, you're salary. And I was leaving, and I had one of my nurses say to me, must be nice leaving early. I was like, oh, it was all I could do not to choke her seriously, like I was beside myself. But, you know, to your point, it's got to, it can't just be one person setting a boundary. It's got to be the organization saying well-being is important here, and helping their leaders, and so that they can help their teams really understand that, No, this is like a, we say a strategic priority is to make sure that our leaders.

Michelle Troseth:
It is, it is. And Tracy and I would; we've been following the work of the National Academy of Medicine since we started MissingLogic, and there's there's an action collaborative, a national action collaborative to combat burnout. And we've said right from the very beginning, it's an and in both. The system needs to change, absolutely, and everybody needs to take personal responsibility for their well-being as well. So it's an and in both, it's a polarity.

Tracy Christopherson:
Yeah, it's a polarity.

Renee Thompson:
Yeah, and so I'd really love to know from your perspective, like how can a leader actually apply polarity? Like how can they apply that mindset to really achieve some type of balance in their life, their professional and personal life?

Tracy Christopherson:
Yeah, so I think one of the best things that we have is what we call a dynamic balance blueprint. So what we're after, again, is that dynamic balance to recognize when I'm being pulled, when my attention is being pulled to my professional life or my personal life. So many of us have children or elderly parents or like any grand, any time you can get, like your attention can get drawn like I need to give attention, so it's about dynamic balance. So what we actually do is help them map out what it is that matters most to them, what is it that they want to achieve? And whatever season of life they're in at, both at work and at home, because this isn't about balancing a mediocre life. It's not about balancing just what we've got, right? It's about elevating in both ways, because leaders want to grow and evolve and develop and make a difference, and they want to be a significant member of their family. They want to have good relationships. They want to contribute to their community. So it's about elevating the game at the same time that we're balancing. So it begins with identifying the outcomes and the consequences because, like I said, yeah, when we over-focus on one and neglect the other 100% guaranteed over time you're going to fail, and you're going to experience negative consequence. So you have to know what's at risk. What am I risking by overemphasizing one and neglecting the other? That tells you what's, what the game is all about, right? It's about staying in the upper quad. It's about getting the positive outcomes all the time and experiencing very little of the negative consequences. Well, to do that, you have to take simultaneous action, you have to be acting on both sides of your life all the time. Now, you don't have to be doing everything that's an action step to get the things you want. So if I get pulled towards my professional life, like during COVID, I just need to maintain the priority action steps that are going to get me the most positive benefit so I can maintain positive outcomes in that aspect of my life and not experience the negative consequences, and then you got to have early warnings to do that. So a whole part of the dynamic balance blueprint is the outcomes, the action steps to get them, and then warning system, warning Will Robinson.

Tracy Christopherson:
Stranger danger. You're starting to experience the negative consequence.

Renee Thompson:
Oh my gosh.

Tracy Christopherson:
So that we can course correct quickly.

Renee Thompson:
Right.

Tracy Christopherson:
We get the early warning signs right now, and we ignore them.

Renee Thompson:
Well, it's so funny you bring this up because this is very real and very timely. I'm the type of person when I experience a lot of stress, and I don't always recognize it, I start cleaning, and everything has to be clean in my house. And I was in a situation recently because that's what I saw my mom do when my mom was stressed. If her and my dad were arguing, she'd start cleaning. Like you always knew that mommy and daddy were arguing because the house was pristine, okay, everything was clean. I'm the same way. I have that when I'm stressed. Everything, I can't have any clutter around. Everything has to be clean. And I caught myself the other day getting testy with my husband because of how unmade the bed was. And it was, and I didn't even think about it until right now. That was my warning sign because, okay, so the bed wasn't made, and the bed wasn't made the way I like to make it, and I got testy with him about that. How ridiculous is that? But that was a warning sign that, yeah.

Michelle Troseth:
And everyone's are different, Renee. Everyone's, I start forgetting things like, and my husband will say that about me, I just, and so there's a pattern. So, but we've helped so many leaders do their blueprints, and there's some things that are common, but there's many things that are very individual-based on that person.

Renee Thompson:
Yeah, it's fascinating to look at this.

Tracy Christopherson:
And then you use the, yeah, and what it does is it makes it concrete. So can't tell you how many times we've walked through and helped somebody create their map, and they're like, oh my gosh. Like, oh, it makes it real. It makes it concrete, and it makes it actionable because I actually know what I'm going after. It's right here in black and white. I know what's going to happen if I don't take these action steps. It's here in black and white, and I know what's going to alert me, right? Like, so it just makes it very actual people laminate them and … in front of them every day, right? Because the other thing about polarities, you have to be vigilant. The only one managed for us is inhaling and exhaling.

Renee Thompson:
Right, right.

Tracy Christopherson:
Every other polarity, you have to be vigilant about it, so you need a tool to help you see it. And then we've developed some other processes.

Michelle Troseth:
So then after they get their blueprint, we also help them with things like boundaries. Like if you're going to have an action step, you might have to have a boundary to maintain that action step, right, and help them to be proactive. Time block on your calendar for the most important things. So many leaders don't do that. It's just amazing, and just really set intention for the week. Look ahead. What's coming up? Are you traveling? Do you have a lot of engagements? Is there something going on in the healthcare system that you know is going to take more of your time? If you're proactive with it, that makes a big difference, as well as some examples.

Renee Thompson:
I read this, learned this from two different people. One is, I'm in a coaching program, and it's part of their, it's having a double win-win at work, succeed at life, kind of a mantra, very much in alignment with what you're doing. And the other is somebody that I've been following said the same thing, let's say, at the beginning of your year. You take a look, and you block off the vacations you want to have, the holidays, the weekends, whatever days you want to have off. If you know there's something going on with your family, you block them off first, and then everything else, you fit in around that, and then you do that also on a monthly or weekly basis too. So what are the things that fill my cup as a human being and being around my friends and family and spending time. So we're having our vacation coming up. Our kids are coming to spend time with us. So I'll get to be with my daughters and my grandbabies, my son-in-law. And so blocking that time off is important to me, obviously, but I think even just in a weekly basis, what's important to me, block that time off first before anybody else gets on my calendar.

Tracy Christopherson:
Well, it's like Michelle said, being proactive. So it's looking ahead at the week to say what's going to draw my attention this week, right? And what's going to serve me and fill me up? Like, if I'm, I have a heavy schedule at work, let's say there's some big initiative going on, and it's going to require me to be there quite a long time and a lot of days, and, then I know my attention is being drawn to work this week. So what on my list of activities that fill me up, help me be restored and rested? What is going to be most important for me to maintain this week, when I have to give the majority of my attention to work, right, so that I do? Maybe it's my sleep, maybe I, the most important thing I need to do is get to bed at the same time and get a certain amount of sleep. Maybe the most important thing is a relationship that I have that, I really give attention to that relationship. Maybe it's a relationship with my children or something, right? You know, it's different for everybody, but it's identifying what's the 1 or 2 things that I absolutely have to do so I can show up over here, and I don't end up burned out at the end of the week, but it's, because life is dynamic. Every week is going to be different, right?

Michelle Troseth:
And at the same time, you can bake things in. So as an example, I have a Michelle day at, one Saturday every month because I recognize and I kind of miss my time alone because, you know, COVID, you're home all the time. And so, you know, and my husband knows, I just take the car keys. He's like, where are you going to go? I don't know, you know? So I might end up at my favorite bookstore, my favorite wine shop, and buy a pair of shoes. I don't know what's going to happen, but that helps my mental health.

Renee Thompson:
Okay. It sounds like such a perfect day. I'm just, I love books, I love wine and booze, so hey. That's great because I think, to your point, Michelle, you've got to block off some time for you. And it's interesting, as you've been talking about this, I'm thinking of my two daughters. One is an extreme extrovert, and she's at a conference right now, she is in her glory, she is around people, she is so happy, she will be upset when it's over. She will cry and say, oh, I don't want it to end. My other daughter just came back from a conference, and she basically said, I don't want to talk to anybody. I have to go in my dryer for two days. Like when you leave clothes in the dryer, and you forget about them. That's what we call it now, she needs to go in her dryer. But everybody has their like, what they need as a human being to feel, for lack of a better way of saying it, alive and to thrive. And yeah, we have to figure that out. You can't just.

Tracy Christopherson:
Yeah.

Renee Thompson:
Assume it'll figure itself out on your behalf. You have to be proactive.

Tracy Christopherson:
Exactly. That's why every blueprint's individualized. It's like Michelle calls it an individualized care plan.

Renee Thompson:
Yeah, right.

Tracy Christopherson:
So it's that it is. It's really like what works for me. And then some of it is testing over time. And you know, when you're starting to experience those warning signs, it's the cutest. Say, okay, am I not taking the action, or is the action I'm taking not effective?

Renee Thompson:
Right.

Tracy Christopherson:
Do I need to do something else, right? And is there something else I need to try, or do I need, it is, but I need to do more of it? Maybe I've been inconsistent in it, right? Well, I think so, it helps you to check. Double check. And the other thing is, you know what? Other people sometimes know us better than we know ourselves. Well, so you know, those early warning signs, our spouses, partners, children, other people, friends that are close to us can say, excuse me, I'm noticing something here, right? They could tell you what your early warning signs are if you don't know them. Yeah, they probably do tell you.

Renee Thompson:
Well, yes. And I can imagine, Michelle, your husband, saying, what's going on? You've been more forgetful lately, so he knows your warning signs and my husband certainly knows mine.

Michelle Troseth:
They do.

Renee Thompson:
So as we wrap up, could you give us any actions or strategies leaders can take to really get better at this polarity thinking and really understand the difference between, is this a problem or a polarity?

Tracy Christopherson:
Yeah, they can buy our book.

Renee Thompson:
It's all mapped out in the book.

Tracy Christopherson:
I think it really begins first with asking yourself the question, is this a problem, or is it a polarity? Because they come up, they show up over and over and over. So any problem you are experiencing for maybe the third, the fourth, the fifth time, like those problems that are not solvable or are polarities, will show up over and over. So one thing is just to start there, right? Like is this a problem, or is it a polarity? And there are a few questions that you can ask yourself to discern that. One, is it ongoing? Have I seen this before?

Renee Thompson:
Is this a pattern?

Tracy Christopherson:
Is this a pattern I've seen, right? Is it ongoing? The other is you can ask yourself, is there an interdependency here? Like do we need both of these things, right, to get to a greater purpose? Is there, is, are there, is there an interdependent relationship someplace here that I haven't recognized before, like with retention and recruitment, right? Is there a greater purpose that's going to get, that will get served, and I will only achieve if I have both of these things? And then, will there be consequences? If I only give attention to one element, will there be a consequence? If you can answer yes to all of those, you have a polarity. At first, is exercising the muscle of is this a problem? Or is, because we go right to problem-solving, always. It's our, it, always. That's our superpower. It's our thing.

Michelle Troseth:
Just to add to that is, all of us have a preference poll. So we go to polls, but we also go to where we're most comfortable because we may not even realize there's that interdependent poll that is also equally important for that shared purpose, because we're just, that's just where we want to go.

Renee Thompson:
Yeah, it's comfortable for us. It's kind of our default mechanism.

Michelle Troseth:
Exactly.

Renee Thompson:
That we resort to. And I just think this is so incredibly helpful and timely because again, I talk to leaders every single day. I know you do too, but the leaders I'm talking to aren't looking for help with this issue, but they need help with this issue because taking a look at being a leader in today's healthcare world is more challenging, I think, than it ever was, and just the world in general makes it even more challenging, I think, to get very intentional. And I love, I'm going to keep thinking of this, being proactive, not letting your life just happen as it happens because you're never going to achieve any type of balance if you do that. But how can you be a little proactive? I can't thank you enough for being a guest on our podcast. Just so you know, everybody who's listening, we're going to have a lot of information in the show notes on where you can get Michelle and Tracy's new book, a link to their website. There'll be a link to where you can connect with them on LinkedIn. Just everything that we talked about, we'll have in the show notes. And as we conclude, is, other than your new book that is out or coming out, I am beyond excited about this, is there any other book that you would recommend, or any other resource you'd recommend for our leaders to help them with their well-being?

Michelle Troseth:
Well, one book that we work with leaders on, we're strong advocates for, is Now, Discover Your Strengths for leaders, specifically for leaders. And of course, that's Gallup's Strengthsfinder tool that's been around for a long time, but we like the one for leaders because it really helps to see where you sit within the four leadership domains, and that also impacts your relationships with other people and maybe some polarities as well. So that's one we strongly recommend.

Tracy Christopherson:
Awesome. Another one, I would say, would be Atomic Habits.

Renee Thompson:
Oh, I have. I actually bought that book, read it, bought several copies, gave them to other people because.

Tracy Christopherson:
Because we get our habits, we don't get what we want, we get our habits and habits is a big part of the foundation of the work that we do with leaders.

Renee Thompson:
Yeah, I couldn't agree more. And again, I just want to thank you for all of your good work that you're doing to help our leaders. Like I said, a lot of times, they don't even realize that they need the help because they're so focused on their teams and being the leader, but there's no way that they're going to be able to take care of their teams if they're not taking care of themselves. So thank you for being a guest on our show, and for you who are listening, I want you to think about this. It's easy to say, I don't have time for that, or I can handle this. We're telling you, you can't, and you can't handle it well, okay? And we're all about creating a healthy work culture, professional, respectful, all of that. There's no way that you can be the leader that you need to be to actually cultivate a healthy work team if you're not cultivating a healthy you. And I cannot thank you enough for being, for listening, and for Michelle and Tracy for being on this show to help us with some of those strategies. So thanks everyone! Take care.

Tracy Christopherson:
Thank you.

Michelle Troseth:
Thank you.

Renee Thompson:
Thank you for listening to Coffee Break: Breaking the Cycle of Bullying in Healthcare – One Cup at a Time. If you found these practical strategies helpful, we invite you to click the Subscribe button and tune in every other week. For more information about our show and how we work with healthcare organizations to cultivate and sustain a healthy work culture free from bullying and incivility, visit HealthyWorkforceInstitute.com. Until our next cup of coffee, be kind, take care, and stay connected.

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Things You’ll Learn:
  • Recognizing the interdependent nature of polarities is crucial for achieving a greater purpose and maintaining a polarity mindset.
  • Fostering healthy relationships and engaging in meaningful dialogue are effective strategies for addressing complex challenges in healthcare leadership.
  • Setting boundaries and recognizing early warning signs are essential for prioritizing self-care and preventing burnout in healthcare leadership.
  • The dynamic balance blueprint facilitates proactive planning and effective management of the dynamic nature of work-life balance for healthcare leaders.
  • Organizational support for leaders in their pursuit of a balanced and fulfilling professional and personal life is vital, acknowledging the significant role of well-being in leadership effectiveness and overall organizational success.
Resources:
  • Connect with and follow Michelle Troseth on LinkedIn.
  • Connect with and follow Tracy Christopherson on LinkedIn.
  • Follow MissingLogic on LinkedIn, Facebook, X, and Instagram.
  • Visit the MissingLogic Website!
  • Get your copy of “Polarity Intelligence: The Missing Logic in Leadership” here!
  • Listen to the Healthcare MissingLogic Podcast!
  • Learn how to become a  Thriving, Resilient, Unstoppable Leader here!
  • Grab a copy of Gallup’s “Now, Discover Your Strengths” here!
  • Get your copy of “Atomic Habits” here!
Disclosure: The host may be compensated for linking to other sites or for sales of products we link to. As an Amazon Associate, Coffee Break earns from qualifying purchases.
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