The other evening, while having dinner with a client, she asked me to explain about “spirit animals.” She had seen my Facebook post where I announced that the Lynx is my spirit animal for 2016. Mistakenly, she assumed that I just made up my mind that the Lynx would be my animal guide for the year. So I explained to her that each January I take my Medicine Cards, a deck where each card represents a different animal, and I randomly select cards for each month of the year along with one card to set the prevailing theme for the entire year. And those become my spirit animals for the year. Some might say that I don’t select the animals but rather they select me.
The truth is it doesn’t matter what animal is chosen. There are lessons to be learned from each animal and from the Native American lore that goes with it. Take the Lynx, for example. One of the major lessons we learn from the Lynx, known as the keeper of secrets, is the importance of being quiet at times and listening. Isn’t that the best way to gather insights? It is an important aspect of marketing that many have forgotten or abandoned. In our industry we need to listen to patients and family members; listen to our colleagues and the service line leaders with whom we work; and listen to others in the healthcare to learn about trends and new methods for engaging audiences and measuring results.
What Lessons Will I Learn Today?
From my perspective, it would be great if each of us woke up in the morning asking: “What lessons will I learn today?” Imagine going into a meeting with a colleague or vendor wondering what lessons you will learn from the encounter? To me, that seems like an important shift in mindset.
Over my many years working in healthcare marketing, I’ve learned my most important lessons from my clients; each has helped shape me into the marketer I am today (for better or worse). I am an amalgamation of all of those experiences and more. Much of that is because I am open to learning new lessons. Lifelong learning is a deep rooted value ingrained in both me and my company. As a business, we seek out employees who have a thirst for knowledge. We like people who read books, blogs and industry publications. And we love it when our employees go in search of an answer or solution – on their own. Perhaps this is the business version of the shamanic vision quest.
I pull a spirit animal card each year because it forces me to look at the world through a new filter. I start the year with a fresh outlook. It broadens and challenges me. And because of that shift in focus or perspective, I learn new lessons. This year, I will learn from the Lynx. The Lynx may well help to awaken me to something I have been closed to – opening my eyes to new opportunities and lessons.
So what lessons will you learn this year? This month? Today? Do you invite learning? Do you work in an organization that values learning and rewards it?