Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Eoyores Walk Among us

In 2017, I penned Negativity and your Inner Pooh. I described the attitudes that we each bring to our community. As I travel this road with you all, I see so many people channeling their inner Pooh. They are kind, generous, unassuming, and generally upbeat. But, I also noted there that the "Eeyores" walk among us also. That thought returned to me recently when I was reading a Bob's Cluttered Desk post on Defending Award Recognition for Injured Workers.

The post focuses upon a blog post written by an attorney, which questioned the efficacy, or point perhaps, of the Comp Laude Awards. In the interest of full disclosure, I have written about the Laude before. See Something New for Comp Laude 2016, Comp Laude Nominations Open, Comp Laude Overview, Community, and Commitment, Comp Laude Nominations, Comp Laude - Michael Made Me Do It!, Some 2018 Comp Laude Honorees, Comp Laude 2018 is Around the Corner, and 2017 Comp Laude Finalists Named. Some might discern a trend.

I have been proud to serve on the Comp Laude Advisory Board since 2016. I have been an attendee, a presenter, and even an honoree. And, there have been times I have been a critic. That is to say, I think criticism is a valid and important tool in our society. When we perceive fault or shortcoming, we should speak of it, engage others on it, and strive to remedy it. We all owe to our community the best efforts to measure and improve it. 

The post discussed by Bob Wilson focuses on the injured worker segment of our community. The author drew distinctions between catastrophic injuries and other workers' compensation injuries. I came away from the post with the perception that the author has concluded that the Comp Laude awards are imperfect. That is fair, we are all imperfect as is all that we create. We strive for better, aspire for perfect, but ours is a journey.

He points out that there are no injured worker honorees in 2019 in the category (essentially) of legislative advocate or agent of change. He also seems to advocate a greater breadth in the award recipients. He advocates that the awards process improve. There are admittedly many worthy workers who bear recognition, but who are fortunately not catastrophically injured. Bob Wilson found some common ground to agree with the post's author. In that vein of "bridge building," so have I. 

The award recipients are not perfect (note, I was a recipient once); not as individuals and not even collectively. There is room for greater geographical, ethnic, racial, gender, and background diversity (there may be other perspectives I forgot to mention, but these are examples). Certainly, there is room for consideration of advocates and non-advocates, union and non-union employees. 

There is room for discussion of the substance of workers' compensation, the potential we each hold to change the conversation about, and community of, workers' compensation. Some of the most admirable injured workers I ever encountered did something to change a workplace, a practice, a law, or a regulation. And, without the catastrophic injury the post mentions. In short, I agree that we can find much to admire in many diverse and different people; if we look. We can do all of this and more by channeling our inner Pooh (kind, generous, unassuming, and generally upbeat). 

Or, we can be Eoyore. We can deride and complain. We can diminish and dismiss. In short, complaining is easy, progress is hard. I went to collage with a many who was famous for walking through project after project always with a "you know what you ought to do . . . ." He always had advice, but never lifted a finger. He was a (self-proclaimed) font of wisdom. Advice is great, but there is so much more to the Pooh side of the equation. 

Let's never hesitate to be critical and thoughtful in our perceptions of this community. I have drafted and submitted many Laude nominations. A significant volume of those were selected as "finalists." Submitting a nomination requires about 5 minutes of your day. If your nomination proceeds to the "finalist" category, then you have to draft a more lengthy explanation of the candidate, obtain a digital picture, and recruit some references. But, in truth, submitting the supporting material for a "finalist" is not more than a 10-15 minute commitment. 

So, if you feel there is not enough diversity in the Laude winners, perhaps that is because there is not enough diversity in the nominees. And, you can make nominations. The field is open. If the winners do not look to you like they are representative, nominate those you feel would be. If you perceive some inclination toward some factor (catastrophic injury), nominate someone who lacks that and explain in your submission why you believe that person or entity has moved this community forward (there are various categories, one is "other"). What has the person or entity done to improve the conversation about workers' compensation? How has our community improved from their presence, attitude, effort, communication, or contribution?

I have drafted well over 1,000 blog posts, and dozens of Comp Laude nominations. In my experience, a Laude nomination takes far less time to draft. Don't complain about what you perceive is, do something to change what you perceive into what you would like.

In short, the story may not today be what you would like. The solution is to change the story. I am hopeful that everyone that reads this post will make one nomination. We must recognize those who inspire us. By making the nomination, you let someone know you value their contribution. I can assure you of one thing (which will likely disappoint the Laude officials): I was more flattered to be nominated than I ever was to be presented the Laude award. That someone thought enough of me to nominate me was one of the highlights of my career. Certainly, I was honored and flattered to be presented the award. But, honestly, my heart soared the day I received notification of the nomination. 

Laude judges cannot control that. You can do that for someone you appreciate, admire, respect, etc. You alone own the decision of nominating someone. You alone can change the conversation of workers' compensation. You alone, similarly, can thus change the Comp Laude itself. Make your nominations! Be the Pooh you can be! "Be the change you wish to see in the" Comp Community. And, this week, as you strive to be thankful, think of all that the Laude have already done to build collegiality and change the conversation about workers' compensation. I am grateful for what it is and what I think it can be.