Understanding a life makes for more successful treatment

Joshua Bell.jpeg

I’m sharing a new treatment approach with health professionals for managing diabetes. I call it the “Flourishing Treatment Approach (FTA).” It is a powerful way to help people with diabetes not just cope with diabetes, but flourish.

I have written many articles about flourishing with diabetes, which you can easily google. One of the foundations of the FTA is to discover who your patient is and their life context. Context is so important. How we live: our daily routine, family, neighborhood, supports, what resources are available to us, what challenges we have…You may tell a person with diabetes to “do this, do that,” but if you have no idea how they live chances are you will not be successful.

I read this story below in a book I’m currently reading, Putting Stories to Work: Mastering Business Storytelling by Shawn Callahan. It drives home the point how important context is.

“In 2007, The Washington Post sponsored a little experiment. The Grammy Award–winning violinist Joshua Bell was asked to busk inside a Washington metro station to see what crowd he might draw and what money he might make.

A few days before, Bell had played in front of a sellout crowd at Boston’s Symphony Hall, with many people paying $100 for their seats, so you would imagine that he’d do pretty well in the metro.

Well, at around eight o’clock in the morning—peak commuting time—Bell opened up his violin case to catch coins and then played his heart out for 43 minutes. A total of 1097 people passed him by, and while a few tossed the odd quarter into his case, the rest didn’t even acknowledge the virtuoso performance.

The Bell experiment showed that meaning is malleable and context plays a big role in what version of a story you might hear. Two people might tell entirely different Joshua Bell performance stories, one involving a concert hall and the other a subway station.

For this reason, it helps if you listen out for a number of stories around any issues you are trying to make sense of, so that you can triangulate meaning.”

Successful diabetes management is not just about “the person.” Context has massive impact on behavior. Taking the time to learn the context within which people live and operate will help make you and your patient more successful.

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