How do we define ourselves in the 21st century? Family? Relationships? Friends? Tweets per hour? Career? While I refuse to define myself solely by my vocation, I will share that summary later. Being a father is by far the most fulfilling and surprising role I have ever accepted. The joy of watching my children begin to define and achieve their own dreams is truly a gift. I appreciate their bravery, constant joy and curiosity as they take in all that is around them and develop their own beliefs and values.
Of course parenting and marriage is never easy. What worthwhile task is ever easy? There are many challenges - some hidden, others very real and clearly perceived. There are all of the social pressures, last-minute requests and never-ending debates, but I try to see these as intimate payments made toward my partnership with an evolving soul and that I have earned an opportunity to learn from and to experience fully.
My wife and I both have large extended families and we enjoy the rare moments we have with our parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles. The circle we have formed together and joined with the circles of our extended families have blended as a dynamic collage of circular bands overlapping and connecting with infinite variation, beauty and complexity.
A definition of success may include cars, salary, network, portfolio, etc. I view my own evolution through the lens of an artist, and from a persistent desire to try something new and expose myself to risk. I view every moment as an opportunity to renew, restore, recharge or reinvent. Creativity has been an essential force in my evolution.
Going to art school helped me fuse my creative energy with the latest innovations. Little did I know at the time that the graphics and publishing industries were being thrust into enormous transformation. Today the media is overwhelmed with articles describing mythical legal battles between Apple, Google and Samsung. Rewind your clocks twenty years and notice how similar patent wars were being fought by Adobe, Kodak, Macromedia, Nikon and Polaroid.
Working in training and consulting was a great way to share the knowledge I had learned from my brief career with Kodak. Training also brought me to the forefront of another shift as classroom training quickly evolved into distance learning. Though I was feeling very comfortable with training, I started my e-learning career without any hesitation. Following my work in e-learning for several years, I also became involved in another 'systems' evolution in the form of web content and document management.
After several large-scale system conversion projects I took on another new role on the eve of physicians and hospitals beginning to adopt electronic health record systems. That was seven years ago when the majority of medical records were still managed as paper. Today the health care industry is now flooded with innovative solutions that weren't possible a few years ago. It's not even an accurate term to reference 'digital' innovations in terms of health care or any other industry. Now that digital tools and mobile features have become the status quo - innovation is centered around population health and streamlined workflows regardless of the media involved.
Personally I am excited by these changes. While many view health care reform as something to run away from, I am embracing this as one step (one of many steps that need to be synchronized) closer to affordable and quality health care. With the foundations of accountable care and collaborative care being assembled, many more patients will have greater access to quality and more affordable care.
Health care reform (or certain aspects of reform) brings much needed disruption to an unsustainable health care model that accounts for nearly $3 trillion in domestic spending. I view the blending of innovative technology solutions, clinical discipline, rigorous security and compliance, strategy, price transparency, holistic wellness programs, and quality standards as a perfect storm for healing our health care system.
Giving back has always been a priority for me. I was inspired to volunteer by my parents and grandparents who consistently supported the community. My volunteer interests over the years have ranged from the arts, education and health care to volunteering to support a remote Native American community in South Dakota.
Visiting the 'Rez' in 2009 with my family was a powerful experience. Conditions are hard to explain to most people who have the luxury of indoor plumbing, heat and safe drinking water. What many U.S. citizens consider basic necessities are luxuries for too many Lakota families. Education, jobs and transportation are sadly beyond reach. While change occurs very slowly on the reservation, my hope is that the coming years will bring many positive changes to the Rez and all indigenous people around the world.
The reality is that no matter how much money, education, food or clothing is shared - the true cost of what was lost from the actions of our government can never be repaid to indigenous people. That doesn't mean that we just raise our arms and voices in frustration. It means that as we help to rebuild and restore what was damaged we must also be realistic and avoid the naive impression that this work will ever be complete.
What is needed is mutual healing from generations of attempted genocide, trauma and abuse. The creativity, resilience and determination of indigenous communities is inspiring and worthy of global attention. Despite all that has been lost many Native American communities are bound and driven by an inner strength and spirit that many in our Western culture find difficult to appreciate.
How do we bridge this gap in beliefs? Mainstream Western culture can at times appear to be based upon some flimsy concepts such as consumption, endless growth, mass incarceration and an arrogant sense of superiority as necessary functions; where many indigenous cultures were based on the concept of warrior spirit and living daily life in a humble and mindful way so that the next seven generations are not negatively impacted by present day activity.
The time has long past to sincerely acknowledge the damage caused by a persistant disrespect of indigenous culture. It is also time to seriously consider the ancient teachings of our indigenous neighbors. We have too much to lose by continuing to destroy natural resources. In my opinion there is a great opportunity to share the knowledge of very unique cultures and achieve, at a minimum, an appreciation for each other, and at best a deep friendship, and the collective ability to do many great things that can not be accomplished in isolation.
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