Ok let me get it out there right now. Although I would love to speak about love in the workplace and how so many are want to meet someone, connect, and have a companion…that’s for another blog about dating, connecting, and finding your twin soul or soulmate. This blog, today, is about bringing love to the corporate world, bringing love to institutions like education, healthcare, and my own bone of contention, the military. Yes, I said it. We need more love in these institutions and we need it now.
I’ve been grappling all week with whether to write about this or not. My daughter basically told me not to. She is much more private than I am. In fact, when we were conversing about certain details she overheard some chatter on my end and asked me if I was at Whole Foods. No, I wasn’t. I was at Fresh Market and had just walked into the store. My world is a little bit different than hers. While I try not to be one of those annoying people who talk loudly about personal matters in public. I do finish off a conversation while entering or leaving a store. And as many of you know my filter radar is often off. I say what I mean and mean what I say. So after digging into my own soul, talking with my peer coach, and asking my guides in meditation. The answer was a resounding YES.
So here goes.
This week was quite the week for me. My son received a 17lb box that had been forwarded to our address from our old address in Connecticut. So of course I thought it was something from Amazon. But there was no return address and so after a couple of hours I decided that it was probably ok for me to open a box addressed to my son (not something I’m in the habit of doing as mail privacy is sacred in our house).
When I opened it I got the shock of a lifetime. The contents contained my former and deceased husband’s entire military record, medical records, and most of his VA records. We had asked for these records two years ago with no response. And now after finally hiring an attorney, my son received them. I started to read and my mom said it would make more sense if I read from back to front, from past to current, of course. Without getting into too many details I started a journey of a life devoted to the Marine Corps. After enlisting, he got into the Naval Academy Preparatory School, which is where I met him. Then he was accepted to the Naval Academy and then to Flight School. After Flight School he went to California where our paths crossed again and this time with sparks flying. To say his life was the Marine Corps is an understatement. He was a Marine first and foremost. Fast forward to his third combat tour. This tour was a bit unusual as he was a student at the Naval Post Graduate School (NPS) and was pulled from his Command by a general (name to remain confidential) in an Air Wing for which Rob had served the past two tours “in theater” (a nice and more fun way of saying war. That's what they call it, in theater)
When he returned he was not the same. He struggled and I knew deep in my heart of hearts what it was. I had seen this before as a young child in my father after he returned from Vietnam. This is a feeling you never forget. Ever. (and that is also another blog)
Here’s where I bring back the whole notion of love in institutions. Once Rob was unable to function his Commanding Officer at NPS decided that he was faking it and as he was not attending classes he was to conduct a Court Martial for being UA (unauthorized absence). I’m kind of a pit bull when you mess with my family so through a series of synchronistic events I was able to have a brief dialogue with Senator Feinstein. That changed the course of the Court Martial and instead Rob was to appear before a Medical Board. All of this I remembered but actually a bit vaguely as the stress of that time period has created some real gaps in memory.
After several hospitalizations it was agreed that he needed long-term PTSD treatment. It was even declared as a priority at the Hearing. That I remember. Anyway, back to me reading this chronology of my former husband. What I did not know is that there were options that were on the table but never offered to us. Our family suffered and Rob’s life (and ours) changed course forever.
I was reading the details of something I had never known, had never been told, and we as a family had never been offered. Why? You’re not going to believe this. Really, you’re not. It was not offered to us because the paperwork was never completed and phone calls were never returned. Some officer in some office at some desk was shuffling papers and was doing his job with apathy, not love. It’s that simple, apathy not love. If love, as I define it in my book, The Four Tenets of Love: Open, Activate & Inspire your LifesPath, was an acronym that everyone followed in every facet of their lives starting with themselves.
What are the four tenets of love you ask? They are:
· Let it flow – where you learn to regain your flow and set yourself back on your true path
· Open your heart to infinite possibilities – where you learn to let love be your first language
· View the world as a blank canvas – where you learn to rewrite your own story, the way you know it was truly intended
· Expand your awareness – where you break down those detrimental patterns blocking you from your true path and instead let love lead the way
As I was reading the papers I was overwhelmed with sorrow for a life lost for no good reason, for a family destroyed for no good reason, and for an unloving culture in an institution that prides itself on two mottos, Semper Fi and Esprit de Corps, that let it happen. To say that I was distraught is an understatement. I read with my very own eyes how apathy destroyed a life, a life that had committed his every being to the Marine Corps. There was a letter he wrote which I remember him writing one early foggy Monterey morning. And in this letter he begged the Marine Corps to use PTSD and him as a symbol of hope as they do with amputees who go on to serve in a different capacity.
That was not to be.
He was turned over to the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). The VA, in my opinion, is wrought with mismanagement, apathy, and utterly complete incompetence (so I will henceforth term the VA as the largest, most behemoth, and antiquated Mad Hatter’s Tea Party there is and ever will be-if you want to meet the largest drug pushing drug dealer...look no further). Needless to say, once Rob was turned over to the care of the VA the saddest and steepest descent into hell began.
Let me just say that although it was strongly recommended that he be in an inpatient PTSD treatment facility ASAP in 2006, he was not processed through the system until late 2007 and then only for a few weeks and then again in 2011. By that time his life was in shambles, I had divorced him to ensure the children were safe and he was declared mentally incompetent while receiving nothing more than weekly talk therapy, some pamphlets, and being prescribed a daily and complicated ration of upwards of 21 medications at times.
His nightmare ended with his life on the 26th of December in 2013. Tell me love wouldn’t have changed his destiny and course. Tell me love wouldn't have saved his life. Tell me if love wouldn't have treated a decorated war hero and officer of the United States Marine Corps differently. And tell me love wouldn't disrupt the status quo-one that is NOT working.
How do we bring love to institutions and corporate world you ask? With disruption through curiosity (see Brian Grazer’s new book, A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life) and integrating what I call the 4Ms (pun intended), (mmmm- to be said out loud):
· Mindset – where you learn to change the way you think about the way things are done
· Meditation – where you learn to search inside yourself (see Chade-Meng Tang’s (Google Engineer) book, Search Inside Yourself)
· Mindfulness – where you learn that, in the words of the SIY Institute, “Greater complexity outside requires greater clarity inside. Effective leadership isn’t about just checking off more tasks. It’s defined by how well we use our minds and interact with others. We need flexibility and clear purpose in the face of complexity. We need balance, insight, and the ability to inspire others.”
· Movement – where you bring all of the above into your body by motion and repetition so that the neurotransmitters can create new neuropathways