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AHA improves the health and well-being of Wake County residents by facilitating and supporting community initiatives.

Perspective November 2012: Surgery Teaches Life Lessons

Sheree Vodicka, AHA Director

Many of you don’t know this, but I had arthroscopic hip surgery in mid-October. Nothing serious – spent a couple of weeks on crutches. With any luck at all, I’ll be back on my bike after a few months of rehab.

It’s hard to take the time to do things like this. Finding a “good time” to schedule surgery just doesn’t happen. There’s no good time. You just have to schedule it and do it.

To add to the life interruption, those of you who know me know that I am a “get it done now” kind of girl. I lead a pretty fast paced and busy life, and that’s my norm. So being unable to move much for two solid weeks was a challenge I’ve not faced before.

But I learned something during that time that I want to share with you that has relevance to what AHA is going through now – our own version of surgery. Strategic planning.

In my way of thinking and living before surgery, if things weren’t going fast and furious, things weren’t happening. And my belief was that if things didn’t happen fast, they probably would not happen at all.

But in these recovery and rehab days, not only have I been forced to slow down physically, I’ve also had to adjust my expectations and beliefs about what it means to slow down – and even to cut out some of the things I am accustomed to doing. Does it mean I can no longer be effective? Does it mean I’m less able? Does it really mean I’ll never get where I’m going?

Of course, the answer is “no”.

What I have observed is that by taking my time, and being more mindful of where I am now and where I want to be, I first have to prioritize what is most important to get done, versus what’s nice to get done. And what my long-term outcome is (full recovery and back on my bike).

I’ve also noticed that by slowing down, I take the time to think through my path. (How will I get to the kitchen and fix myself lunch on two crutches?) This helps me avoid mistakes, such as bearing weight on my bad leg, and achieve my mission–food on the counter ready to eat.

I see this recent journey and the one before me as an analogy for strategic planning. There’s never a good time to do strategic planning. It feels like work has to stop to make it happen. And it certainly will take us a few months to “rehab” once we’ve settled on new goals and objectives. It has been a lot of work for several months, and will continue to be a lot of work. It might even be a bit painful at times. But in the end, we’ll be leaner and meaner, and we’ll know how to demonstrate our impact more than ever before.

We’ve had a few work group meetings canceled due to the process, and some of you have even said it feels like we aren’t doing anything. Yes, we’ve had to slow down our pace a bit to make the time to have this important work done. But–when it’s all said and done, we’ll have a way to prioritize our work, say “no” to some things that are great ideas but do not fit within our specific goals, but more importantly, we’ll be able to say “yes” to the things that are most important to accomplish right now. And we’ll enjoy our journey more because we will have been more intentional about the path we choose.

I hope you’ll join AHA for our Quarterly Meeting on December 7. We’ll have an update on our strategic planning process, as well as work group reports. You’ll see that we have, in fact, not stopped working at all! If you haven’t already signed up for the Quarterly Meeting, click here to RSVP.

Best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving, and we hope to see you December 7!

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