By, Chuck Price 8/8/21 @ 7:40 AM
I absolutely love watching the Olympics, especially track and field. Watching this year’s Games got me thinking…The thing about sports is that when top athletes perform, they make it look easy, as if anyone could walk in off the street and do it. We do not have the context or back story to see all the hours of training and preparation invested by both the athlete and their coaches. The development of a foundation, strength training, practice, visualization, and relentless dedication are all nearly imperceptible to those of us on the outside—all we see are the results of the blood, sweat and tears. For instance, when an elite discus thrower goes through their technique and slings the discus, it appears almost effortless to the casual observer. We would never be aware that one small glitch in the technique could be the difference between a gold medal and last place unless we have been closely involved in the sport ourselves.
I have been a coach my whole life, it seems. In my spare time I coach high school track and field (shot put and discus), giving back to the sport that gave me so much as a high school and college athlete. In my professional life I have always attempted to take a coaching approach with my leadership team and direct staff. I enjoy taking complex tasks and techniques and breaking them into digestible, easy-to-understand bits for people to put into practice. I started Blue Collar Consulting for that very reason, to help support leaders and organizations through the arduous process of transforming their culture into that of a genuine trauma-informed agency whose foundation is based on the science of positive and adverse childhood experiences (PACEs).
Trauma-informed care (TIC) is so much more than a check box. The purpose of becoming trauma-informed is to bring the “human” back into human services and related work environments. Leaders, staff members and clientele can all benefit from the implementation of a more wholistic personal approach to work. When we consider the lives and well-being of all parties involved, we make significantly greater strides towards progress and success than ever before. TIC is meant to provide us with a sound moral compass, high standards, and a point of accountability to ensure we are doing the best work possible. If we know better, we can expect to do better.
Language and familiarity regarding ACEs, PACEs and TIC have become more common lately, especially in human services, schools and other public support professions. With the increased interest it's hard to ignore the feeling that the next wave of implementation is upon us.
Similar to an athlete winning Olympic gold, an agency that has fully implemented trauma-informed care may make it look easy and give the impression that a training session, video, or guidebook is all that you need to attain this status when in fact there is so much more happening behind the scenes. This cannot simply be achieved overnight. It requires time, along with the support and wisdom of someone who has been through this journey before.
The initial trailblazers and early adapters for the TIC culture-shift figured out the process without a road map or manual to follow. They relied solely on the pull of knowing that it was the right thing to do. I was fortunate enough to be a part of that early pilgrimage with my transformational work as director of a medium-sized county health and human services department in Wisconsin. In just a few short years my team and I completely reshaped our workplace culture, developed a healthy environment for personnel, and, most importantly, made significant improvements to outcomes for the families we served.
With the trauma-informed lens firmly attached to our vision, we have the ability to see our practice and ‘the system’ completely different. Often, we see how harmful our interventions have been. The ability to achieve TIC status is dependent on multiple variables—strong leadership, agency culture, commitment to serve, etc. It involves layers of implementation and strategy and is not just a one-and-done training. It starts at the top, with the director, CEO, or executive team deciding to make the shift for themselves and their agency and taking the first few steps in the right direction.
I know how hard this transformation can be, how lonely it can feel at times when leading the change, and how difficult it can seem to build trust. However, I also know the joy that comes with real change. When an agency, its leadership and its staff is committed to larger goals and outcomes for those they serve, clients take on positive and sustained trajectories. I have been through the early stages of culture transformation, all the way through full implementation. I am intimately familiar with all of the doubt, joy, pride and everything in between that comes with leading this kind of journey. In essence, I have knocked down the weeds so that others may follow behind.
My team at Blue Collar Consulting can take the guess-work out of your journey to becoming trauma-informed. I started this company to coach leaders and organizations through their TIC transformation, and to help normalize the change process. It is our goal to turn organizations into thriving, healthy environments for all. If you are a change-leader interested in learning more, feel free to connect via email firstname.lastname@example.org. I welcome the conversation and connection. The journey is worth it!
Chuck Price Founder & Consultant
Blue Collar Consulting, LLC