by Linda LeBlanc, PhD, BCBA-D
Running a human services agency is one of the most exciting and rewarding professional experiences that you can possibly have. It is a dynamic, ever-changing experience that is primarily focused on creating an environment where your employees can succeed in their opportunities to change lives.
However, that dynamism comes at a cost of constant adrenaline release as real-world challenges occur every day. It can feel like a long, fast-paced series of problem solving opportunities, which is why I think of it as “sprinting a marathon.” The phrase “sprinting a marathon” is a distinct oxymoron…no one would sprint for 26.2 miles! If you find yourself struggling to find the balance between speed and stamina, you are not alone.
After over 20 years in the field of behavior analysis, I have synthesized the following five principles. I hope you will find them helpful as you sprint your marathon.
Simplify, simplify, simplify! You decrease your chances of success at anything when you try to do everything. For example, rather than trying to serve a very broad population base, develop a specific clinical model and execute that model really well.
Protect time in your schedule each day to organize, think, and have creative ideas. Select this daily time slot wisely so that you are at your most alert and are calm, cool and collected. You will gain more from this protected time than you will from your meetings.
Recognize patterns in problems that crop up. When you are able to step back and see the systemic similarity in the problems that are occurring, you are more likely to develop a solution that is function-based (i.e., related to a deeper root cause) and that will have broader positive impact.
Don’t try to change people, change their environment instead. As behavior analysts, we know we can succeed in changing aspects of the environment that will facilitate the behavior that we want to see from anyone in that environment.
Refuel your tank with positivity. Surround yourself with people who are positive, encouraging and who take time to notice the efforts and success of those around them. This gives you energy to push on past the 20-mile marker.