When the going gets tough, the tough get creative. Saying, “We’ve always done it that way” just won’t work. In the early 1980s, I ran a state mental hospital in Bridgeport, Connecticut — a depressed backwater city that fell on disastrous economic times. There was a budget freeze for state-run facilities. We had thousands of patients, and we were short-staffed. We had no choice but to rethink our approach completely. As a leader, I had to assure my people that together we could handle anything.
Among other things, we decided to train people who didn’t have advanced degrees to act as caseworkers. We forged partnerships with local family-care homes to provide extra beds. And we launched a day-treatment program, because we didn’t have enough staff to run the wards all night. In the end, several of our solutions allowed for better care than the ways of the good old days. Today, programs like day hospitals are standard in community mental-health centers.
Succeeding in adversity makes success all the sweeter. At the end of the day, it’s not how far you fall but how high you bounce.