Sunday 20 October 2019

Gina London: Four reasons you need to do a self-reassessment now

'If you're still communicating the same way you've been for the past decade, you're overdue for a check-up the same way I was. ' Photo: Stock Image
'If you're still communicating the same way you've been for the past decade, you're overdue for a check-up the same way I was. ' Photo: Stock Image

Gina London

I have chronic, widespread eczema. I've suffered with it since I was an infant when I'd scratch inside my elbows and behind my knees until I bled. But it wasn't isolated to only those places. The stinging rashes appeared everywhere.

When I was a toddler, my mom and dad drove several hours from our home in Indiana to a specialist in Chicago where I underwent a series of phototherapy treatments for several weeks. Baby Gina was put into a kind of a machine that emitted narrow ultraviolet B lights all over her little body.

I learned to live creatively through the embarrassing flare-ups. During that highly emotional time of pre-teendom, I remember lying to inquisitive friends that I had 'poison ivy' instead of eczema. Even though poison ivy is contagious and eczema is not, 12-year-olds in rural Indiana were more familiar with - and therefore more accepting of - a case of poison ivy than a form of atopical dermatitis known as eczema. However, a couple of years later, when I was 14 and had to wear long sleeves and long pants (er, trousers) the entire boiling humid summer, I couldn't think of a fitting excuse. I was just weird.

And I swear I'm not telling you this all now so you can push me back into my former ostracism. But, rather, to give you the necessary context for my latest reminder that we all need to be more proactive and consistent in our self-care.

You see, despite nearly every doctor telling me throughout my life, that I would "grow out of it", my eczema has persisted. I treated the flare-ups with steroid ointments and the odd injection and got on with it. Over the past 15 years, as I've lived and worked largely overseas, I haven't visited a single American dermatologist. My routine has been simply to ask whatever attending physician in whatever country I've been in to please give me the same medicines I've been taking for decades.

When the new year arrived and I was hit with an extremely severe bout, I did as I always did. My new local GP filled my prescription as requested. But this time nothing happened. No relief. In fact, the rash and lesions spread faster and more furiously than before. I was miserable.

In desperation, I finally Googled 'Dermatologists in the Dublin-area' and found a doctor specialising in eczema who has written numerous papers and studies on the topic. I visited her this past Tuesday and guess what? First, she (correctly) chastised me for not seeing any specialist on this for more than a decade. Secondly, she told me there are plenty of effective new treatments and regimens these days that don't involve risky steroids. Thirdly, she made me promise that I would commit to sticking to the new regimen for two months.

It wasn't easy to have my new doctor hold the mirror up to me. Why on earth had I spent so much time in a pattern that was no longer appropriate for me? So, of course, I promised.

Will you? What are you holding on to as an old habit that you might be better without? What are you willing to focus on to improve yourself, your communications, your behaviours? What?

Needless to say, my irritable skin was negatively impacting my personal and professional productivity - so for today, let's focus on some business behaviours that might be due for a new check-up as well.

1 Communication skills

Of course, I have to kick-off with this. If you're still communicating the same way you've been for the past decade, you're overdue for a check-up the same way I was. If you're just starting a new job, it's not too soon. Get some training and commit to a new regimen today.

2 Productivity

It is time to re-evaluate how you budget your time? Time management is critical in today's 24/7 work world. Apps that track your time distracted on social media can kick-start you toward more awareness of "just where did the time go?"

3 Cultural skills

Along with developing an approach to more purposeful communications, if you live in today's global, modern world (and if you're reading this, you qualify), you can use a boost in your cultural awareness. Consider common cultural gaps like communication styles, scheduling, disagreements and trust.

4 Work/life balance

If you focus on improving your productivity, you should be left with more time for those all-important concepts known family, friends, or even me-time. How long has it been since you took a bike-ride or a hike just for fun? When was the last time you went to your child's sporting match and didn't spend it looking at your phone?

TIP OF THE Communicator hat

Finally, a big tip of The Communicator hat to those who have one of the world's most important and difficult jobs. A demanding, full-time role with unlimited hours, no breaks and which requires masterful communications and negotiation skills before often unappreciative associates. You guessed it, a special shout-out to all the moms, mums and mammies on this Mother's Day. Thank you.

Sunday Indo Business

Also in Business