"You don't have to think about doing the right thing. If you're for the right thing, then you do it without thinking."
~ Maya Angelou

April 27, 2012

The Journey...

"Success is a journey, not a destination.  The doing is often more important than the outcome."
~Arthur Ashe

Good day to all those that can hear me!  I'm thinking since it is Friday that there probably has been a little more bounce in your way, and even the challenges that may have presented themselves today, you managed alright.  Today, I began with a quote, one that had me reflect on where I am currently at, where I've been, and the uncertain future that awaits.  Reflection is a part of the process of learning from yesterday, so that you can truly live in today.  It is something that I find myself doing on a regular basis, and I will say it has only added to my sense of self, and my self-awareness in a truly empowering manner.  The process in itself has also enhanced my personal and professional worlds, and for that I am thankful and mindful of what I have gained!

Success...  Each one of us defines success in a manner that applies to how we fit into this world, how we walk through it, what we choose to do while we are here, and how we treat the everyday man, woman, and child we cross paths with.  For example, for myself success is not measured by the amount of money I have in my account, the title on my business card, or the mention of my name.  Success for me is exactly what Booker T. Washington so graciously stated  "it is measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which one has over come."  You see, when you over come you get up, you learn, you grow, and you move forward.  This process empowers you to reach further then you ever imagined.  For all you want, and all you believe you can achieve.  What it did for me was give me the strength and determination to achieve more than many ever, ever thought was possible.  What it did for me was show me the way to better myself, and by doing just this I was given something that has truly transformed my life.  I was allowed to enter into a profession that the doors don't open for everyone.  I was given an opportunity that I hold so close to my heart, a part of me that provides me with strength and inspiration every time I am able to use it .  You see, I am able to help others lift their heads up, and show them how to let their hearts open. When this happens there is an opportunity for it to carry over from person to person, in relationships, family systems, culture, and community.  That is success!

I have learned much along the way, the doing has taught me well.  I look forward to what awaits.  I'm living in the journey, not thinking about the destination!  I appreciate you following me on this one, as you move into the weekend be mindful of what matters, while walking forward with your head up, and your heart open.  Until we meet again, be strong, stand up, and stay up! 

April 20, 2012

Burning Out!

Good day to all!  If you've been following Can You Hear Me? on the social media networks: Twitter or Facebook you may have noticed that we have spent some time advocating, sharing, and discussing the importance of  self-care, and the affects and effects of burnout as it pertains to the field of helping professionals.  As with everything that we put out, put down, and give to those that can hear us, there is a purpose.  Today, I wanted to share my story and how it pertains to self-care and burnout.  My goal here is to give you a vicarious experience that will allow for a learning opportunity, moving our audience closer to grasping what has influenced our lens, and in turn what has shaped our desire to help others in the field.  So, clear your mind, grab my hand and let me walk you through some of my learning lessons in the area of self-care and burnout.

Let me begin by giving you a clear definition of what burnout is?  *Burnout  is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Burnout can reduce your productivity and sap your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful (the operative word is "could" it doesn't necessarily mean it gets to that point for all who are effected by the various stages of burnout). Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.  Now that we are clear on that, there should be no mistaking of why self-care is so vital, and particularly in the field of helping others change for the better. *Melinda Smith, M.A., Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Robert Segal, M.A. January 2012   

My story is unique (perhaps similar to many) in that my eventual road towards burnout, and the decrease in my own self-care needs was not the magnitude of my cases, the population(s) I was serving, or the overload of work.  The contributing factors in my case were systemic ones, culture, role identity, and what others role expectations were, let me explain.  My history in the field of social work was working in two non social work systems (Juvenile Justice- Detention/Field Services & Secondary Education) where the lens and school of thought was: Law Enforcement and Education.  Although the systems both had components that were in place to provide support for the psychosocial needs of the populations (i.e. probationers & students) they were serving, the focus was not social work, social service oriented, or from a Bio, Psycho, Social, and Risk perspective.  Therefore, I was always operating against the grain and for the most part (not always there were a few objective and informed colleagues) when I would try to speak to my knowledge base, skill set, advocacy etc., the eyes often went distant, and the defense was on.  In the school system many of my job responsibilities and duties were not empowering me as a social worker, and if anything decreasing my engagement and motivation.  My roles were often looked upon and directed towards me as: punitive, disciplinarian, authoritarian.  Well, those roles are the complete opposite of what a social worker is, and most importantly not the role or identity that I subscribe to.  There were times where I was able to find the balance and use my social work skills effectively and purposefully, but more then not I felt like I was running a race, just about to finish, I could see the the finish line, but someone was always holding me by my waistband, I could never get across that line...

This story is not complete, not yet.  Now you throw in the culture that was front and center at some of the working environments that I was immersed into.  Apathy, contagion, survival mode, systemic stress due to layoffs and cuts, ineffective policy, lack of resources and support (the right kind), and so forth.  So, add these forces to what I shared above and there you have it, my emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion was influenced by heightened levels of stress that I was taking on, it was speaking to me loud and clear!  I had been suppressing for a long time, hoping there would be a better day, it never came.  It was time to make some serious and significant changes in my professional and personal worlds, and I am pleased to inform that I did!  When I speak about the importance of self care, and what can attribute to burnout, and the affects and effects of, I am truly speaking from an experiential place. Therefore, let it be known if not otherwise heard, I only want to help and support my fellow professionals.  I hope this insight is helpful to those that can hear me, please don't hesitate to reach out if and when.  Until then, keep your head up and heart open and you will walk through this world in a much healthier way!

"Change the changeable, accept the unchangeable, and remove yourself from the unacceptable." 
~ Denis Waitley

 About Author

Daniel Jacob, MSW  Email
Founder oCan You Hear Me? External Field Instructor at University of Southern California School of Social Work MSW@USC. Daniel has a Masters in Social Work (Families and Children Practice/School Social Work). He is currently nearing the completion of the LCSW testing process.  More about the man behind the mission ⇢

April 16, 2012

Just Do Your Best

The theme of the day is the action we create when we just do our best.  Think about these words for a moment, "just do your best." You've heard them before from friends, family, teachers and the TV, and surely you have shared them with someone as well.  I'm currently reading Don Miguel Ruiz' well known work The Four Agreements (if interested you can find it to the right on our Shelfari book shelf) and the third agreement is about always doing your best.  After digesting this shared wisdom, his words, meaning, and the truth behind this agreement, it produced instant change for me.  Often we get so caught up in what we can not control, and by doing so we lose sight of doing our best and the ability to accomplish and achieve our current task at hand.  However, when we slow the process down, and focus our efforts and energy on just doing our best, it is exactly the pause and lift we need.  For example, you know those moments when you continue to put something off that you know has to be done, consistently creating roadblocks for yourself that have done nothing other than create more suffering for???  This is a perfect time to try it out for yourself and shift your thought process from not what you don't want to do, or think you can't do, but just doing your best at it!

I can honestly and openly share with all those that can hear me that whatever it is I am putting out to you, I am putting in to me through action and purpose.  I have found through experiential learning, empirical observation, vicarious moments, and the tremendous opportunities I have received as a result, this has been my best and most available teacher.  These learning opportunities are my model, and exactly what I mean when I say "learning through the eyes of others."  So, if you can hear me, I know you are open and available to learning through my eyes, shaped and influenced by my personal, professional, academic, and the many other life learning experiences I have and will continue to gravitate towards. 

My only goal here is to empower and support those I walk with on this path of doing the right thing without thinking.  I am motivated by the opportunity to be (a part of the process of ) that helping hand, witnessing the change that comes from wanting to, believing you can, and committing to the work, in simpler terms Just Doing Your Best! May this find you all well, and until we meet again keep learning from today, so you can live in it tomorrow...

In the hills with the city of Los Angeles behind me, Can You Hear Me?

April 12, 2012

Why Is It So...

Why is it so difficult to explain to others in the non-helping world what it is you really do?  I know I am not alone in this one and so I digress.  You know that moment in time when you are having a conversation, and the person you are engaging with asks "what is it you do?"  The challenge here is not what you will say, but the fact that you have already explained it before.  First, you may think OK here we go again, I'm gonna have to really help this person (who thinks in dollars and cents) that my work is rooted in the rewards received from helping others change for the better.  This doesn't mean I don't need  a paycheck.  What it means is that my work is not rooted or motivated from financial gain, but in the joy I achieve when I am able to help others  in need sort through and break free, empowering and moving them closer to positive change.  You see, when you help someone else improve the quality of their life, you receive as well.  I know its hard for many to embrace this, especially if their concern is primarily for themselves. 

It's one of the job description categories that they forget to tell you, you're going to have to repeatedly define your work to all those who just don't see what you do.  You learn real quick when you embark into this field that you will spend some time defining what it is you do, and perhaps at times defending it as well.  How you choose to go about doing so will be up to you.  I hope you choose to do it the right way.  Don't take it personal, don't be defensive, share from your heart and the place that brought you in to this field.  And when the person receiving this starts to fidget or becomes visibly distracted, know when to shut it down while also allowing yourself to know that it takes an authentic person to be able to provide the service that you have committed yourself to.  Let this shared conversation motivate you and your practice, allowing for another learning opportunity, one that can reaffirm Why It Is So!  This post is not directed at any one individual, so if you interpret it any other way than what was intended, all I can say is that I'm not mad at you we all choose our own way, but I am thankful to have this forum to express.  May this find all those that can hear me well.  I am with you on this path, stay strong, stand up and stay up!

April 9, 2012

Stand Up!

Today I found myself starting out of the gate a little slow.  Mondays have that way of presenting what we may not want to face, but we know we must in order to stand up and stay up.  It's always interesting how the process works.  For example, this morning I found myself going to that place of avoidance, influenced by the uncertainty of what I don't have.  I knew what I was experiencing was nothing other than me being hard on myself.  However, it's not always easy to stop the process and this in itself sometimes feeds right into the exact thing your are attempting to manage and cope with.  You see, when you clearly understand what your experiencing, and how negative and unhealthy it is affecting you, and your still experiencing it, really?  Is this helping me right now?  No, it is not, and when you have that conversation with yourself, the one where you are rationalizing and justifying you must know you are only complicating the matter.  There is only one decision to be made at this point, its time to get up, take action, and move forward.  This is what I did (and will continue to), and this is what we all have to continue to do when we find ourselves creating unnecessary roadblocks.  

I am ready and available to provide what I know can help others breathe a little easier.  When this will happen I can not control, I can't.  I will continue to keep putting my message out to the universe the only way I know how, with respect, honesty, compassion and understanding.  I will continue to embrace rejection and disappointment as a learning opportunity, one that I will choose to inspire and empower me while I keep pushing forward because I have realized "there is no telling how many miles you will have to run while chasing your dream." Until we meet again may this find you well.

April 5, 2012

Is It Time To Surrender?

April here we are, and as we embrace this period of rejuvenation I do hope that all those that can hear me are well.  Today, I am choosing to write about that space where we can just let it go.  I was asked to process this statement/question today.  Am I able to just surrender?  Am I able to put that part of me that has been my constant companion for so many years in its rightful place.  On that shelf where it has a home waiting, letting the rest take its course.  You see, when we surrender we don't forget the experience of, we just move closer to not allowing it to control our actions and intention in a unhealthy way.  As I have written many times before, this thing we call life is the ultimate learning opportunity.  We have the most available choice right in front of us, and its up to us to be able to take the next step.  Of course its not always an easy process.  First, we must understand what it is we are surrendering to?  We must then be able to see how its influence effects our being.  You are now allowed to ask yourself, is this influence good for me?  Is this influence allowing you to walk forward in a healthy and peaceful manner?  If it is not, then you have the answer you need to hear, and now you can move forward, you are on the right path.  I am so inspired by the continued process of learning from being a work in progress.  The opportunities to better ourselves, to grow, and to be available and present for others is endless.  When you get there you don't have to ask anymore, you will know. 

So, if you find yourself thinking often about what you can not change, and you know that it's not doing you any good to keep around...  If your thoughts allow you to go to that place where you can see the door, and you now have figured out a way to open it...  It is here where you are allowed to go forward, it's okay you have nothing to fear, you are ready, it's time.  May this new season bring you a renewed sense of hopeful optimism, it's right there, right in front of you.  Until we meet again, stay strong, stand up and stay up!

Can You Hear Me?