January 18, 2022
by Stephen T. Messenger
Oblintunity: An obligation that one must do, but at the same time provides massive opportunity for personal growth and development
I’ve recently been part of a mission to place military medical professionals into civilian hospitals struggling with high numbers of COVID patients and staffing shortages. These military doctors, nurses, and technicians spend 30 days on-site with the potential for extension.
The way the teams get there is through an overwhelmed hospital requesting support, the State agreeing, and, if approved at the Federal level, the military sending teams to support local communities. When receiving orders, these medical professionals are obliged to leave their families for an extended period and provide medical care.
They are in support of the decisive effort in our Nation’s response to COVID.
Like good soldiers, sailors, and airmen, they take orders and defend our Nation. It’s the nature of the job. And they do it proudly.
However, this is tough. Many teams were away over Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. The notification period is extremely short, and they could be assigned to any State in the Nation. Even during non-holiday times, families are disrupted, lives placed on hold, and routines completely changed.
As these teams integrate into the hospitals, I see an interesting phenomenon. The members turn this obligation into an incredible opportunity.
Every patient they meet is a chance to heal, connect, and encourage. They are directly impacting lives while demonstrating military leadership in towns that don’t traditionally see service members. They are taking 30 days to think about their personal goals and set conditions to improve physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and familywise.
I’ve seen these leaders take a disruption and turn it into unbridled success.
It certainly got me thinking: what if every obligation a leader encountered at home and work, they turned it into an opportunity?
- The new project from the boss you got stuck with is a chance to create lasting organizational change
- That lunch with that difficult client is now a challenge to gain a large purchase order
- The five-day work trip away from family develops deeper relationships with peers
- Attending a mandatory work function allows you to meet people in the office you haven’t talked to before
- Taking your sick child to the doctor is a moment to create a lasting memory during the car ride
Too often leaders get fixated on the tasks they want to do, when they want to do them. When a disruption in their life appears, it’s easy to dismiss this as a distraction instead of a benefit.
I’ve been on a string of extended work trips lately. While it’s tough being away from the family for long period of time, I’ve maximized that by building relationships, tackling online college assignments early so I won’t need to do them at home, working out every morning, improving my spiritual life, and saving money and hotel points for future family trips.
Obligations can turn into opportunity.
Building relationships is one of the largest opportunities. Leaders must form bonds with others inside and outside their organizations, and obligations are a time to connect with others. These linkages are critical to good working relationships and organizational success.
Most obligations come with a human dimension. You’re usually with other people who are forced onto the same project as you. Great leaders operate within the human domain and find ways to build teams and connect with others for future projects.
Finally, oblitunities must be met head on with a positive attitude. It’s critical that even when faced with a mandatory event, leaders put on a good face for their employees, peers, and yes, especially their kids.
I’ve been amazed to watch these medical professionals seamlessly integrate with civilian hospital teams. They quickly form bonds with their civilian counterparts and work side by side saving lives.
Their ability to be missioned on short notice, spend a month in a different State, proudly help others, and have a great attitude is a testament to the amazing service members we have out in the force. And many are taking time to improve their personal lives while out helping our Nation.
I love seeing obligations turn into opportunity! We as leaders must capitalize on these Oblitunities* and encourage others to do the same.
Subscribing to The Maximum Standard is not an obligation, but it’s certainly an opportunity to develop yourself as a leader. I encourage you to sign up to receive a free, weekly 3-4 minute leadership read every Tuesday. There’s no obligation and we would love to join you on your leadership journey!
*I first heard the term “Oblitunity” from Pastor Doug Echols of Bethel Baptist Church in Yorktown, VA in a sermon he preached in November 2021.