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Anything less than full throttle isn’t an option for any business leader, but running the business with a disability takes more than overcoming a lack of confidence or shifting perceptions in the boardroom.
It’s already hard to get to the top, let alone run your own business. When you get there, a day off is not an option; neither of them calls in sick. If you need special accommodations, your biggest fear is that company executives will put someone else in your role — someone without doctor visits, work accommodations, or even surgery.
Disabled leaders often force themselves to prove to shareholders and CEOs that they can thrive in a stressful environment, outperform others who seek the top role, and do everything themselves. But this is an unrealistic and dangerous way of thinking; this mindset is often responsible for a deterioration in health and well-being, as leaders delay important medical visits, forego physical therapy, or miss medications.
There is a way to take control of your health and wellness, but it takes a proactive, deliberate approach. You can execute your personal healthcare strategy the way you run your business – using the skills that have brought you to your current success. Here are three ways to take back the reins and manage your health.
Related: How Hiring People with Disabilities Will Make Your Business Stronger
1. Seize your day
You may feel like you don’t have time for your condition, but if you intentionally schedule your medical visits, you can take control of every facet of your personal healthcare by choosing when you see healthcare providers. You can determine the time of day and, usually, the frequency of visits to doctors and therapists.
Think about which agreements are stressful and which ones help you and your mindset; in other words, which visits work with your day rather than against it. For example, some physical therapy sessions can look like a gym routine; for others, therapy may be more relaxing, such as massage or meditation. Think about where in the day your medical visit would be best for your productivity – and plan accordingly.
If the therapy relieves you, schedule it early in the day, perhaps at the beginning. You can choose your medical professional in the morning based on availability. But if you’re going through something that puts you in a negative mental or emotional state, save it for the end of the day or even the weekend.
Business leaders with disabilities often complain that they don’t like leaving their jobs, where they feel most confident and proud of what they do, to walk into a doctor’s office feeling helpless and out of control. If you run a company, you may feel that the negativity you experience when you go to the doctor goes against the positive attitude you need to motivate others and run your company effectively. But the skills you use every day to run your business can go a long way in planning and managing your healthcare needs.
Related: Why Leaders with Disabilities Are Bringing a Secret Weapon to the Negotiating Table
2. Be your own advocate
As a leader, you are hired to solve your company’s tough problems. You can apply the same knowledge to your health care by assembling a team of positive, fun-loving, and effective caregivers to help you achieve your wellness goals. So often we accept assigned health professionals or physicians by referral. We look no further than the general requirements of insurance policies to ask questions that can help us identify the right individuals to form a care team to meet our needs.
Find like-minded people to take care of you. If you need a physical therapist with a “coach” mentality, do your research, read the reviews, and find one. If you need a counselor for talk therapy to help you cope with your condition, keep digging and asking questions until you find the right person.
Since you give up much of your day to tend to your health needs, use the same mindset you have for hiring people in the workplace. Does every person on your team have a positive mindset? Do you feel cheerful when you leave the clinic, even if all the news is not good? Does every member of your care team listen to your needs and help you find solutions? Why sacrifice your health by accepting unscreened practitioners if you won’t accept inferior job performance?
Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer and don’t listen when someone says that a much-needed treatment isn’t covered by insurance. A little self-reflection often goes a long way. You will eventually find a person willing to help you get answers. It is important to use your leadership skills to advocate for yourself and how you stand in the gap for your company.
Related: Employers Need Employees. Now they realize the untapped talent of these people.
3. Delegate to create a work-life balance
If you’re in a leadership role, you may not hire employees directly, but knowing who you can trust in your workforce is critical to managing your business if you have a disability. You need a “go-to” person to step in for you. Find the person who can keep the fire burning in the house, take that person under your wing and educate them on the specific needs of your role in the company. Share with them how you do things, especially the daily schedule, the “musts” of your job, and where to find important information.
You can simplify this for others if you learn to embrace technology. Invest in research into technology that keeps you informed, even as you undergo physical therapy or recover from surgery. Find training on iPhone or Android technology that lets you view spreadsheets, scan reports, analyze productivity, or view profit and loss figures, all from your phone.
Thriving at work is essential; however, managing your time is the key to taking control of your wholeness. Your well-being is just as important to the company as it is to you and your loved ones. There is always time to invest in a healthier and more productive future. You can turn the tide on your health needs using the know-how that led you in the first place.