By: Julia Behr, CVPM, CVBL, CCFP
Brene Brown said, “Imperfections are not inadequacies, they are reminders that we are all in this together.”
About 6 years ago, I read the book, “Wabi Sabi Love,” by Arielle Ford. The book describes how to use the Wabi Sabi philosophy to transform your personal relationships. Instead of allowing things to irritate you that your partner does, you find beauty in the imperfection. That book really resonated with me and impacted my personal relationships, and it still does.
Our industry is going through so many challenges these days: practices are busier than ever, most are short staffed and unable to fill doctor and technician positions, and our teams are suffering from burnout and compassion fatigue while trying to meet the needs of sometimes demanding clients. It can also be emotionally draining to ignore our feelings just to get through the day.
Adding to that, due to the tumultuous times we find ourselves living in, it is essential for us to support each other through the good days and the bad. We need to not lose sight of our purpose and our why – particularly - why we choose veterinary medicine as our career.
What does Wabi Sabi have to do with this?
In his book, Wabi Sabi, Leonard Koren says, “Wabi Sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional.”
The veterinary industry is an imperfect and unconventional industry! I believe what drew most of us into vet medicine is our love for animals. That is why I started in the industry, but I have remained in it because of the people – all of you! I genuinely appreciate how most of us have given our blood, sweat, and tears to care for animals and help our clients. My concern is however, many in our industry have forgotten our purpose, leading to the loss of the passion that led us to our career path.
How can Wabi Sabi lead us back to our passion?
The Wabi Sabi philosophy can help us to see our work in a new light, help us regain a deep appreciation for our career, and shape us to experience more balance, harmony, and joy than ever before.
Wabi Sabi will allow us to tackle our largest career challenges by adjusting our perspective and flipping our circumstances into opportunities! Imperfections when seen in another light can become defining strengths!
Let’s Wabi Sabi some of our Challenges and view them in a different light:
Challenge: “We are short-staffed.”
Wabi Sabi: “We are team focused.”
- Utilize effective scheduling techniques that your team values but also supports your practice needs
- Invest time and money into technology that can streamline your workflow and improve efficiency
- Focus on employee retention strategies including a positive culture with effective communication, benefit offerings that your team values, and work life integration support
Challenge: "We struggle with recruiting.”
Wabi Sabi: “Recruiting today has changed and we need to think outside of the box to find talent!”
- Sourcing and recruiting videos are the most effective way to gain talent
- A positive, engaging online presence is essential to help your practice stand out against the competition
- Expediting the recruiting process can maximize your chances to acquire talent
Challenge: “My team is burned out.”
Wabi Sabi: “My team supports each other by providing emotional, health, and wellbeing resources.”
- Check in with yourself and your team on what emotions they are feeling on a daily basis
- Create a workplace wellbeing program and talk about how to support each other as a team
- Create a wellbeing or serenity space in your hospital with a massage chair, coloring books, magazines, and spa-like music
- Invite mental health professionals and financial planners to speak at practice meetings regularly
Challenge: “I feel like I can’t get ahead and I’m just constantly putting out fires.”
Wabi Sabi: , “We have a plan and process in place that allows us to deal with our potholes (issues) regularly so we can focus on patient care and the client experience.”
- Utilize Pathway Planning and regular leadership and team meetings to identify, discuss, and solve issues that come up
- Have processes and systems to ensure a consistent client, patient, AND employee experience
- Determine whether you have a process or person problem and ADDRESS it directly!
- VGP Can Help: Click here to begin working with a VGP Practice Coach
Simon Sinek said, “Working hard for something we do not care about is called stress, working hard for something we love is called passion.”
We can use Wabi Sabi to shift our perspectives, to remember our industry purpose and to help us see our challenges as stepping stones to something better...A career we love again!
Need more support? The VGP Practice Coaches are here to help! Click here to learn about becoming a VGP member or to schedule a meeting with our Practice Coach Team.