Leadership and the Human Condition

There are numerous definitions for the “human condition”, both religious, philosophical and otherwise. It is people being who they are, with all their lumps, bumps and ugly stuff. One of the biggest challenges of leadership in any setting is accepting people as they are; exactly as they are, in their present human condition, no matter how snarky and frustrating.

As leaders, most of us strive to provide direction, meaning and hope to those we oversee. Helping people improve means taking where they are in their human condition. This is not always easy to accept or identify. Some folks are grateful, seek out input and accept mentoring and coaching gracefully and graciously. Many others are difficult, defensive, angry and resistant. You cannot lead someone that you do not understand or accept.

Consider your role as supervisor, manager, director, or C suite person. Do you accept folks the way they currently are; especially if they are difficult? Or, instead, do you lead who you want them to be? That never works. I have struggled in my leadership role to deal with folks that are difficult people. That means I have not accepted them in their current human condition. How are you doing with acceptance?

Posted by Susan Odegaard Turner – MentorRN


Chaos and your True North

There is a photo on Facebook today in my feed that shows a sunflower growing through a tiny crack between bricks. There is absolutely nothing, except pulling it out or spraying weed killer that will stop that flower from flourishing in that unlikely space. Are you like that flower or do you feel like your direction is wavering with all the chaos we are experiencing in our lives and country?

I have a friend who is a religious leader in the Catholic Church. As a non-Catholic, I rely on him to help me understand the chaos around the latest accusations and revelations of clergy abuse. I mentioned how hard it must be to keep your perspective during all this craziness. His response was something I will always envy and respect. I’m paraphrasing, but the gist was that “no one could cause him doubts or consternation with his faith and spiritual practice because he was steadfast in his beliefs.” In spite of all the allegations, poor choices, lack of transparency and cover-ups, his direction and “true north” remained the same.

I’m not sure many of us can say the same. Some of us don’t have a true north. We don’t really know or recognize what we believe in; no matter what. My true north has changed as I have aged. Relationships have ended and new ones begun because of my true north values. Do you know what you believe during chaos? Do you have a true north to look to for reassurance and direction?


Posted by Susan Odegaard Turner – MentorRN

Changing Patterns

I’ve been thinking a lot about personal boundaries and making life changes. I have recently decided to make some different personal choices related to healthy living. It means stopping old behaviors and trying out new ones. I have done many things the same way for a very long time, so it feels very odd to do things another way. It is hard to do anything differently in middle-age, even when it is good for you. Not all the new choices fit well. It is difficult to change habits, but also invigorating to try something new. I have given myself permission to keep what works and throw out the rest. Fortunately, most of the new stuff is worth keeping.

I have also decided to readjust personal boundaries in my relationships with others. This is also part of healthy living but harder to do. I am pushing back on folks that demean or ridicule, and eliminating relationships that are toxic to me. These changes are also difficult, but are critical to taking care of my emotional self and soul space. Sometimes I feel like going back to old behaviors, but the risk is too great. What are you willing to make changes for?


Posted by Susan Odegaard Turner – MentorRN

What is Your Limit?

I recently returned from two weeks in Israel and Jordan with a tour group. It was my first time being on an organized traveling tour. I am not good at being herded. However, I met amazing people and did enjoy the trip. It became clear on the second day that I would have to work hard to physically keep up. Part of that is being overweight. But, I also don’t routinely push myself while working out at the gym, which I do regularly. It was also hot and humid in the Middle East so I was challenged!

I struggled to keep up and took a fall that set me back a day. However, I persevered and did not give up! What I learned is that people are very kind. Folks helped me climb up and down stairs, and over rough ground. It killed me to need help, but now I am better at asking for it. Independent middle aged women struggle to ask for help, and I am the worst! What I also my limit is far greater than I thought. I could do more if I try. I can walk farther, move more, and do more sets at the gym. What can you push your limit on?!


Posted by Susan Odegaard Turner – MentorRN

Trash in My Own Yard

I have recently witnessed a few serious events of friends that make me want to go into other peoples’ lives (yards) and help them clean up their trash. I assume they can’t see it, won’t do it correctly or would do all things differently if they were able. I am such a great codependent, I want to jump in and fix it all, as if I know what they need.

A couple of them are in denial about what they are dealing with. Another is totally clueless. No matter what, it is not my business. I have to firmly RESIST the impulse to get in there and tell them what they are doing wrong. I have tried to rationalize that I am teaching. As an RN, this is a common theme. I call it support, education, helping, or being there. I actually think I know better than they do about their life. It also makes me feel needed and useful.

I figure I have learned to manage some life challenges, so they should do that too. I have also learned that it is not my job to facilitate someone else’s ah-ha’s. “It’s not my journey.” is my new mantra for living. I am not good at moving in and out of the piles, so I am mostly sitting outside the yard. I can support at a distance, instead of sitting with them in their piles of trash. I can provide health information, emotional support and back away. What I need to do is look in my own backyard instead of worrying about everyone else’s. Whose yard are you sitting in?!


Posted by Susan Odegaard Turner – MentorRN

Progress NOT Perfection

I am pleased to report that the “Fix up Susan” project has closed its’ doors permanently. It has been a work in progress for several decades with discernable improvement but no completion date. While I was busy fixing myself, I forgot to live my life…until a health crisis reminded me that I needed to live in my wholebody, not just my head. I have finally learned at a week shy of 64 years old that I am fine the way I am. I will never be thin, artistic, or fluent in another foreign language. I will continue (likely forever) to be creative, overweight, smart, empathic, sensitive and compassionate, as well as musical.

After reading a million self-help books, Geneen Roth, Brene Brown, Wayne Dyer and many others, I have learned and believe I am good enough. Can you close down yourself-fix it project? Can you actually fathom not working on ANYTHING but rather living your life….? Be who you are…An amazing and important idea!


Posted by Susan Odegaard Turner – MentorRN

Get Empowered: Ask for Help!

February was not my month! For two weeks, I was flat on my back and sick with something awful…? The flu? Couldn’t eat, take care of my dog or put out the trash. I struggled to keep the basics going, like the heat. I thought I had it handled.

Then I took a fall. Broke my hand in 2 places and couldn’t use it. Of course, these falls only happen when you are buck ass naked and it is Friday at midnight. The good news is I was able to get myself up. The bad news is I couldn’t do much else.

I slept with frozen peas and a splint. The next morning, my friend called. I told her what happened, and she showed up with a goody bag full of crackers, seven up, bananas and Gatorade. She checked in regularly. apparently the word traveled and another neighbor took out my trash. People showed up to feed the dog, water my plants and see if I needed laundry done.

I was lovingly cared for by several folks. Some I didn’t even know that well. A couple still ask if I am doing ok. I was really impressed by how kind they were. I felt empowered and treated kindly.i am usually the one doing the caretaking. It was different to be the one that needed it. As a nurse for over 40 years, I pride myself on taking care of myself without help…except for my golden retriever. I now know that as I age, I may one day again need to ask for help. Next time I will be less judgmental and afraid. How are you at asking for help?!

Posted by Susan Odegaard Turner – MentorRN