1. Verklan, M. Terese PhD, CCNS, RNC

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Maybe you are feeling the way my colleagues and I are-we have the winter blahhs. I watched us dragging ourselves from bedside to bedside and then from one meeting to the next. We do not seem to have any energy. How do we motivate others if we are lacking the enthusiasm and creativity to tackle everyday issues? I hope that we do not look like great big blobs of grey mist when seen from a distance. And if we do, who would want us for leaders? We must bring back our desire and willpower, or we will fail to inspire our colleagues, and more importantly, ourselves. If we cannot articulate our vision clearly on every occasion, I am afraid that we will cease to be good leaders and, even worse, horrible followers.


It is important to keep in mind the traits of being a good leader-honest, competent, intelligent, and broad-minded. I do not believe you can take those core values away with the blues because they are integral to the person. However, other leadership traits require energy-imagination, creativity, and courage. If I am having trouble dragging myself out of bed in the morning, I doubt that there will be much leftover to support anyone in a staff meeting or to assist in developing an innovative solution to overcome a new obstacle. Perhaps that is why someone says, "That's not my job," "I don't have the time for this right now," or even worse, "I don't care." The famous explorer Ernest Shackleston took out an advertisement for the first expedition to Antarctica in 1890: "Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success." He must have been some leader to motivate men to go with him using such words!!


What can we do to motivate ourselves when we are too far down in the doldrums to motivate anyone? How about a "ME" day!! Do something all day just for you. I like to sit in the sun sipping Earl Grey with a great murder mystery and my dog curled right up next to me. There is something very soothing about petting him. A pedicure always revs me up-splurge and get the spa one-the massage on the legs is well worth it. Moderate to strenuous physical activity will stimulate endorphin production, with the benefit of feeling relaxed and energized at the same time. I play ice-hockey several times a week and cannot wait for the annual Paddy-dillo hockey tournament this weekend. (Paddy for St Patrick's day, and dillo because it is held in Texas!!) I will play 6 games in


With renewed energy and vigor, I will repossess the motivation and the desire to help my colleagues attain our goals in the pursuit of excellence. Because I have taken care of my needs (remember Maslow's Hierarchy?) and feel recharged, I will be able to use my leadership skills effectively to keep the team moving in a positive direction. I will be the role model for good leadership and good followership, depending on what my place on the team is for the given activity. I do have legitimate power because of my position in the organization and possess expert qualities based on my knowledge and clinical skills. However, I also want to possess referent power so that people will enjoy being around me and embrace strategies that will make us all successful. Referent power will quickly disappear if I become a burned-out, uncaring clinical nurse specialist. I will become much less effective without it, and worthless as a team leader or team member.


I have had a day to wallow, and even though I am still feeling a bit of the winter blahs, I am looking forward to spending the weekend at the rink. Actually I am feeling better just thinking about it. This morning I really noticed the fresh, bright green leaves becoming visible on their branches. And, the birds were chirping like mad. I had to fight the urge to turn into the Flower and Shrub Centre on my way to work this morning!! I invite those of you who still have a couple of feet of snow piled up in the backyard to make a cup of your favorite tea and sit in the sunniest room of your home. Have your favorite music playing softly in the background and close your eyes and think Spring-it will not be long coming hopefully.


I encourage you to get recharged. Become the person who has the bright smile along with the bright ideas for positive change. People are naturally attracted to those who radiate energy and feel sapped by those who are depressed. "You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun, than you can with a kind word alone," according to Al Capone. Thanks to positive leadership power, I can influence, rather than coerce my colleagues to want to meet our objectives, and I can leave the gun (or hockey stick in my case) at home.


M. Terese Verklan, PhD, CCNS, RNC


Associate Professor and Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist School of Nursing University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston