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What I Learned – Carolinas Center & Ferguson 4

What I Learned – Carolinas Center & Ferguson

Welcome to Ron’s video blog called “What I Learned” where he describes what he has learned from his clients. If you click the link below, you will land on the video page to see Ron’s smiling face and hear his sultry voice! Or if you prefer to avoid all of that, you can read the text below instead.



When I was a hospice social worker, I would be at a party and someone would ask what I did for a living. I would say that I worked in hospice care. I would usually get one of two responses. The person would either quickly change the topic because death and dying is so uncomfortable OR they would say, “Oh…you must be such special person.”

I recently spoke at a conference for the Carolinas Center which is the state association for hospices in North and South Carolina. When I shared my experience about being a hospice social worker at a party, everybody laughed. And the reason they laughed was that it was darn funny…BUT…they also laughed because they got it. It was an inside joke. It’s like a wink-wink from someone who’s been there.

It’s not uncommon that when I talk to my clients prior to a presentation, they will say, “We’re different than most organizations.”

And secretly, I’m thinking, “No, you’re not.”

Every organization starts meetings late. Every organization has communication problems. Every organization is dealing with rapid change. While every organization thinks they’re different, they are remarkably similar.

But here’s what I learned from the Carolinas Center. PEOPLE ARE different. Each person is unique. That’s why the hospice humor worked — it spoke to the uniqueness of the person in that job. And so I realized that every organization needs to appreciate and respect the uniqueness of each employee. It just prevents us from making the wrong assumptions. And for the record, I also realize that I need to be more sensitive to the uniqueness of my clients’ organizations.

At least that’s what I learned.


One of my favorite therapists jokes goes like this. Two therapists pass each other in the hallway. One says, “Good morning.”

The other one thinks, “I wonder what he meant by that?”

As a social worker, one of the tenets of our profession is to make sure we take care of ourselves, so we can take care of others. Receiving therapy or counseling is not unusual for those of us in our profession. It helps us keep our heads on straight. And I think that’s a noble undertaking. Ironically, in many organizations, the first thing to go when budgets get cut are the wellness programs and professional development.

Recently, I spoke for Ferguson, a company that sells plumbing supplies, HVAC products, and building supplies to contractors and homeowners. I was speaking to their credit managers and the Senior VP for Financial Services asked the managers this: “Do you care about yourself enough to take care of yourself?”

She then went on to outline the components of their wellness program and emphasized that being a leader means taking care of yourself. I remember reading about Martin Luther King and how, during the height of the civil rights movement, he began to wear down physically. He wrote that he realized if he didn’t take care of his health, he wouldn’t be able to continue leading the movement.

So, here’s what I learned from Ferguson. A company that cares about their leaders will create leaders who care about themselves AND their employees. It’s not only great role modeling for the leaders, it also encourages a very healthy work environment.

At least, that’s what I learned.


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