There is much to learn when you decide to become a small business owner! I focused a lot of energy on learning about promotion of my services in the first months after I took the plunge! I read various articles, began following different experts on Twitter, and spoke to consultants in person, and they all recommended that to effectively build my business I needed to take off the mask and let people know me better. This post is my answer to those suggestions.
To be perfectly frank, the original version of this blog has been edited a few times! Writing this type of post — and leaving it alone once completed — is difficult for me. I would much rather focus on you and your concerns in my blogs! Still, the experts have spoken, and I’m taking off the mask – or at least peeking around the side of it a bit!
I’ve lived a lot of years. I have an excellent education and am truly a life-long learner, but the strength I bring to my professional endeavors is rooted in real-world, life experience. If pressed to use one single word to describe myself, I’d probably have to choose empathetic. I remember that one of my favorite professors in grad school described me as having that huge empathy. I am honored by the description and acknowledge the truth of it.
Just to make sure we’re clear, empathy is not sympathy. Empathy means that I have the ability to imagine other people’s point of view, challenges, joys and sorrows – visualize myself walking their path. Sympathy is a more visceral response to the suffering of others. It is emotional. I am caring and sympathetic, to be sure, but sympathy is empathy on adrenaline! Excessive sympathy would cripple my efforts to help those I serve. I am blessed to have learned to compartmentalize the two.
In other words, I empathize with the patients/clients and families I work with as a Speech-Language Pathologist because I have walked a very similar path to the one they travel. We all contend with different circumstances, and what is emotionally crippling for one person is just business as usual for another. I have faced more heartbreaks than the average parent and far, far fewer than many! I understand first-hand the overwhelming grief, fear, and panic that slam into a mom or dad, son or daughter, husband or wife with that first pronouncement of chronic illness and/or disability. Grief for the lost hopes and dreams never to be realized. Fear of the unknown trials yet to be faced. Panic over the possibility that you won’t be strong enough, smart enough, or resilient enough to weather those trials!
I’ve been overwhelmed by the magnitude of the incessant daily battle to help my loved one achieve what I just know is possible in the face of expert skepticism.
I’ve learned to redefine my concept of success.
I’ve juggled the conflicting needs of parenting adolescents with medical and communication disorders while caring for a parent with multiple health problems and dementia — all while completing my Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology.
I’ve learned first-hand that carving aside time to nurture myself a bit both personally and professionally helps make me a more effective caregiver.
After more than three decades in the caregiving trenches, I understand the battles my clients and patients face on a daily basis. Twenty years of experience as a consumer of SLP services preceded my certification as a provider. This life experience and my capacity for empathy are the major advantages I bring to my professional relationships.
Placing my mask firmly back in place now!!! Anyone heard a good joke lately?
Cyndee Williams Bowen, SLP is Owner and Founder of Bowen Speech-Language Therapy, LLC in Clearwater, Florida. Her practice specializes in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of adults and adolescents with speech, language, voice, swallowing, cognitive, and related disorders. She has a special interest in working with patients with Parkinson’s Disease and is a certified provider of Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) LOUD and eLOUD. You can learn more about the services provided at Bowen Speech-Language Therapy, LLC by visiting the company website, Facebook page, and following the @BowenSpeech handle on Twitter!