Remember that ground-breaking management book from Stephen Covey – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? Well, Mr. Covey and the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE), with support from Bayer Diabetes Care, have released a small pamphlet applying his 7 habits to diabetes care. Covey’s inspiration for the booklet? His wife was diagnosed with diabetes.
I imagine the thinking behind this booklet is to give patients a new tool to manage their diabetes, adding to the typical diet, exercise, meds routine. This tool has the patient draw from a more emotive place: understanding, listening, cooperating and picturing your perfect life. What impresses me is the head-nod to the fact that managing diabetes is not just about medical management, but includes our emotional, mental and spiritual being. Covey’s habits are:
1) Be Proactive – Choose your actions, and be responsible for them
2) Begin with the End in Mind – Create a vision for your life based on what is most important to you
3) Put First Things First – Prioritize tasks based on importance and what one thing can you do regularly that will make a positive difference in your life?
4) Think Win-Win – Build relationships with others by helping them succeed, too. From this you create the positive energy of cooperation which leads to success in all things in your life, including diabetes management.
5) Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood – It’s about listening. Listen to your health care team to gain the practical skills of self-care
6) Synergize – Combine guidance from your team and support from friends and family
7) Sharpen the Saw – Keep everything sharp: your body, mind and spirit
It’s hopeful watching the AADE move in this patient-empowerment direction. In a perfect world, patients’ attention, with the help of their educator, would be on greater quality of life, not so singly focused on diabetes task management, but weaving that into a vivid picture of a happy and healthy life. For a positive vision of our life is truly where our motivation and energy come from — for all things — including managing diabetes. Diabetes educators would exhibit less ‘directorial skills’ and more coaching skills, helping people design a ‘life plan’ with diabetes in it, rather than just a ‘numbers plan’ — blood sugar, blood pressure, lipids, you get the idea. But since we can’t ignore the numbers aspect of diabetes management, at the back of the booklet you’ll find the AADE’s 7 self-care behaviors.
The booklet is a nice start. To get yours – and it’s free – go to: http://http://www.diabetes7.org. What we need now is a well-trained team of educators ready and able to help patients put these habits into play. Well, I guess one can’t ask for the moon, the stars and the sun all at once. But this moonbeam is a small ray of hope. For more information about the AADE, particularly if you’re looking for a diabetes educator in your area, go to: http://www.diabeteseducator.org.