Sunday, August 28, 2011
Remembering to balance
Our journey has ended. We're at home, relaxing on a Sunday after a trip to the barn and a nice ride for both of us. The laundry is in process and I'm studiously ignoring any urge to think about work until tomorrow morning. There are surely hundreds of emails lurking in my inbox even now, and some of them may even be as urgent as the sender thinks they are.
Right now, I’m happy to still be ignorant of all that has transpired in my absence—even if it means I will be buried again next week.
I made a vow while we were traveling, though, as I felt the knots in my shoulders work their way loose and as I took deeper and deeper breaths of pine-scented air. No matter how crazy things get at work, even if I can’t see how I will get it all done, there has to be time taken for a few crucial things--a daily walk and a daily (or almost daily) ride. The work will always be there, but my ability to manage it effectively depends on my mental state being up to the task. If I don’t remember to breathe and take moments during the day to step away from all of it, to let go of all the noise in my head, all the demands on my time and energy, I will not only be hurting myself, I’ll be hurting the business as well.
I have not written a lot about my job specifically, only as it relates to keeping me away from the ponies. Mostly, I wanted to keep the blog about the horses and leave my “other” life out of it. But as the balance has shifted in the past few months, I’m finding it harder and harder to keep work from leaking into the horse part of my life, so it has ended up here more and more often—even just as side comments and grousing about not seeing my horses enough.
I work for a company that provides service, technology and financing--primarily to the medical industry. We have learned that in order to effectively help facilities and even smaller practices, we need to help them manage their collateral (medical claims) and all the processes around getting those claims paid. We have lots of technology and expertise to do this, but the challenge is often convincing the entrenched staff to do what’s best and smart. Not what they've done for the last 25 years, or what they did at the last three facilities, or just how they've "always done it." Even when we’ve effectively increased their income by 10%, it is still an uphill battle more often than not.
It gets exhausting, and there is never a thank you--there is only the next thing that needs to be fixed. There is no shortage of opportunity out there for us to build our business and grow, but if I’m going to continue to be a part of it, I need to learn to let a lot go, to turn it off, to walk away.
My boss, the owner and CEO, is an entrepreneur. They are a different breed of humans, I swear. His energy and ability to put pieces together is remarkable and inspiring, and it is incredibly easy to get lost in his enthusiasm and pour all of yourself into his vision.
And it's a good vision. There are so many inefficiencies in the medical billing world, so many cracks where money slips away with barely a whimper, that with just a tiny bit of effort, good technology and tenacious staff, the revenue needle can move--and move significantly. The insurance companies don't like it, but too bad for them. I run the operations--from managing our staff as well as the customer relationships to solving simple IT issues in the office to making follow-up calls to the insurance companies. Basically, whatever it takes. And sometimes, a lot of the time, it takes a lot.
So how do I keep my energy in this? It is definitely not 10 hour days and checking email on vacation (which I didn’t do). It is remembering what we're doing and that we are doing good things while making our own business work, too. It is also doing what Steve and I just did on a daily and smaller scale. Turn off the phone. Walk away from the email. Breathe. Walk. Ride. Repeat often.
This first week back will be a rough test. The two weeks before we left, I didn't get out for a walk even once. Sitting is sooo bad. So bad. It wreaks havoc on your spine and joints AND slows down your metabolism. I do not need that kind of help. Particularly as I become "a woman of a certain age."
So. Big test coming up. Steve says to remember that sense of peace stealing over my soul the first time we lost the cell phone signal. That was pretty good, but it was actually even better when I got back to "civilization" and told my boss I needed to not check in until we got back. When I chose to disconnect was when my chest finally loosened for real.
I just have to make that choice daily, and certainly before I'm ready to run off and join the circus to get away.