Robin's Nest President's Column - May 2020

Robin Hertel
In Search of Our Greatest Strengths

Although I would typically write about May being Nurses’ Month, I’m going to tell you a story told by a friend of mine. It’s a story that involves a young boy who traumatically lost his left arm. After recovering, the boy decided to study judo and began lessons with an old Japanese master. He trained daily and although he was doing well, after 3 months his master had taught him only one move. 

“Sensei,” said the boy, “shouldn’t I be learning more moves?” The master replied, “This is the only move you know, but this is the only move you will need to know.” Although the boy was confused by the master’s words, he kept training and eventually entered a tournament.

Surprisingly, he won the first two matches. The third match was more difficult but eventually, his opponent became impatient and charged. The boy deftly used his one move to win the match and advanced into the finals. 

In the final match, the opponent was bigger and more experienced; the boy seemed outmatched. Concerned, the referee was about to stop the match so the boy wouldn’t get hurt but the sensei insisted, “Let him continue.” Eventually the opponent dropped his guard. Instantly the boy used his move to win the match. 

On the way home, the boy asked, “Sensei, how did I win the tournament with only one move?” The master answered, “You won for two reasons. First, you’ve almost mastered the most difficult throw in judo. And second, the only defense for that move is for your opponent to grip your left arm.” So, the boy’s biggest weakness had become his greatest strength. (Adapted from “Top 100 Motivational Stories by Meir Liraz)

The coronavirus pandemic can be seen as our biggest weakness. But can we make it become our greatest strength? Perhaps by capturing our personal stories during this pandemic we can discover valuable insights: finding strengths we were unaware we had, how we handle adversity, things that make us laugh despite the chaos, how we’ve found opportunities for growth despite the turbulence.

I invite you to share your personal stories with AMSN members by either submitting them to this newsletter or by participating in our podcast, Med-Surg Moments

My own story involves an epiphany I had this week. I was angry at the universe for all the disruptions that have occurred in my life because of the pandemic. Those who know me will tell you that I am an optimist so this anger was difficult for me to accept.

Suddenly I realized that the disruptions and changes really didn’t matter because my family and friends are healthy, we are able to work and don’t have to worry about feeding our families. I was ashamed but I think I grew by remembering that, regardless of the circumstances, we always have something to be thankful for. Perhaps sharing our stories with others will help us heal, help others grow, and help relay to the world that we are med-surg strong. 

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