Someone asked me yesterday, “What’s your greatest take away from your time at Good Shepherd”? I told her. “I know Kung Fu”. She looked at me like, “”Ohhh K” and what does that even mean?” Because she asked and also due to the very confused look on her face, I felt obligated to offer an explanation of my answer.
So I told her…..At some point in time there was a young woman that was employed at the center who studied Kung Fu. She was actually an advanced student having achieved all the various belts, progressed to the level of instructor and ultimately became a Kung Fu master. That’s when I met her. Like many of GSS employees, she held a full time position at the center and occasionally she would fill in on the residential units providing care for clients and kids.
One day we got to talking about this and that. So I asked her, “When you find yourself in close quarters with a client who may be acting aggressive or even threatening, are you ever tempted to use your Kung Fu?” She said, “Tempted, ha. I use my Kung Fu here all day everyday”.
So of course I was surprised by her answer. I said to her, “Isn’t that dangerous? What if you throw a punch or a kick and somebody gets injured?” I was thinking, I can empathize with the situation however practicing Kung Fu on kids seems like something that could turn bad real quick.
That’s when she said to me, “Will, one the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in Kung Fu is the power of restraint. Restraint is more effective, more efficient and a much more powerful tool than excessive force. Utilizing mental powers over physical force, exercising restraint to keep my cool as well as my composure and communicating with the kids is the best Kung Fu. I use my Kung Fu everyday with these kids. If I didn’t have the martial arts training that I do then I might really lose it and start throwing punches.”
After I understood how she implemented her Kung Fu at the center, I was ready to learn. I became aware that sometimes the most useful Kung Fu is practiced with coworkers and team members. At times dealing with staff members can be just as challenging if not more difficult than dealing with our kids. I don’t think that’s a secret. However like any big family we work things out. This is where good Kung Fu is again so helpful.
Many things have changed in the past 12 years, procedures, policies, people, etc. However the mission has been consistently and persistently carried on by all GSS team members. From my perspective, all the people who have walked through the doors of Good Shepherd have contributed to maintaining the mission. I’m not just speaking about the senior management team who give great guidance and direction for our facility, our policies, and our people as well as the mission. Nor am I only speaking of direct care team members who are on the front lines everyday providing care that our kids need as well as the respect that they deserve. I’m also speaking about the folks with whom I work most closely both in proximity as well as in procedures and processes. My “IT Crowd” as well as our team members in Finance, PI, Facilities, Training, Housekeeping, etc. At times it may seem that what we do as non-direct care people may not have a direct impact on our clients and students however I can assure you that every action we took as members of the GSS team had an impact on our kids. Over 12 years, I have learned so much Kung Fu in how to deal with people and situations and how to understand that every experience is an opportunity to learn and grow. It is my pleasure and honor to have worked with so many talented, dedicated and beautiful people.