At this time of year, pause to consider the many meanings of independence; it is a more complex word than you can imagine. A story from one of my earlier jobs came to mind: I was pretty new on the job and the collections were low. It appeared that we had billed $250,000 and we had not been paid on any of the claims. In fact, it appeared that they went into a black hole. I made a number of discoveries in my search and one of them was pretty daunting. Our software was set up incorrectly, and the claims were not formatted to be paid. We asked the funder for dispensation on timely filing of the claims, then, we got to work correcting the format. Even with a new deadline it appeared that we wouldn’t make it. Our only solution was to hand write as many claims in three days as we could.
I knew how to recruit and set up a production environment, so I filled the room with the information and people from all over the company, and we set out to handwrite claims! About two hours into the process, one of my recruits approached me and said, “I can make changes in this process to improve it.” I thought about it for ten seconds and said, “Make it so.” I introduced her role and then let her have the floor. She made a few important changes and we got back to writing. We wrote more than I expected that we could, and we were paid for most of those claims.
I thought about my emotions as I wrote the claims. First, I experienced shock: “is there a better way to do this?” Then, I felt disappointment in myself: “why didn’t I think of that?” Then, I experienced gratitude: “I am so glad she had a better idea.” All of those feelings happened in rapid succession. Out of all of them, gratitude was the greatest feeling.
When we take something apart to improve it, emotions will flood in. That is okay as long as we keep going. If we keep going, gratitude can be the last, and greatest, emotion in the ride.
When I think of independence, it means the freedom to evaluate. Independence means the freedom to create something better. Independence means the freedom to organize others to act and to be interdependent.
This week, we celebrate our freedom. Let’s do so with a sense of gratitude….for our family, our neighbors, and all the people who helped get us this far. Let’s look forward to the next challenge which will require us to take the emotional ride to more gratitude.