Early on in his career as a firefighter, facilitator and trauma clinician Jeffrey Cartwright knew he was meant to be a first responder and was passionate about his calling. What he didn’t realize is that during this time he would also learn about the type of leader he wanted to become.
Jeffrey details the first time that he made a harrowing rescue, only to learn that the person did not make it. Rather than make light of the situation and return to business as usual, his chief took him aside and showed him great empathy. He took the time to check in and acknowledge that Jeffrey had just gone through a life-changing event.
That’s what good leaders do. They aren’t just known for their skills or tactics. They are special because they care, nurture and foster a healthy work environment by offering a heartfelt connection. What Jeffrey didn’t know was that this experience would have such a profound effect on him and that it would influence him to make leadership his life’s work.
Certified mental health first aid instructor Jeffrey Cartwright has a great saying which goes like this…you can either have peace of mind or you can give people a piece of your mind. When teaching people at his workshops, he stresses the point that you don’t need a reason to feel happy, so why find reasons to be unhappy?
He cites social media as a place where people illustrate this concept so well. They are much more vocal when it comes to being negative. Why, he asks, can’t people use it more to celebrate the good? His takeaway? You and only you are the sole “determinator” of your happiness. When you have a resilient foundation for positive mental health it makes you stronger and in turn makes you less vulnerable and able to control your own destiny.
Jeffrey Cartwright, facilitator, trauma clinician and fire instructor has developed a simple method to help build resiliency and maintain happiness which he calls the 4×4 Foundations. It’s based on his experience on responding to fires when the bell rings at the station. He has translated that into a method where we check in with ourselves four times a day.
The first step is to show gratitude and positivity. It’s a time to connect with yourself early in the morning to set your intention and align your mind and body before it can be influenced by others. It’s also a time to prepare yourself for the day from the inside out and to ask if you are sticking with your intentions, fostering resiliency and positive mental health
Jeffrey Cartwright, facilitator, trauma clinician and fire instructor has developed a simple method to help build resiliency and maintain happiness which he calls the 4×4 Foundations. One of the foundations is kindness, a simple yet profoundly important and undervalued trait that we can easily share with others.
Jeffrey asks, when is the last time you have given someone a compliment? He shares a story where he expected to receive inferior customer service, but instead was met with kind and compassionate assistance on the other end. When he took the time to compliment the person on the other end of the phone, he could feel the genuine gratitude the other person was feeling. The more energy we give out that’s positive, the more the negative energy is not going to get in on us. When we leave the house looking forward to our day, it sets us up to be much less vulnerable to any negatives that we may encounter.
With the effects of the pandemic weighing on us daily, emotional agility is probably one of the most important traits we can carry with us. As Jeffrey Cartwright, certified mental health first aid instructor reminds us, we need the ability to deal with situations that we have not even come across yet.
We must begin to ask ourselves, is this worth being upset about all day, and realize that if we stay angry it could ruin the good things that lie ahead. Acceptance and even curiosity are much more valuable to us than anger or vulnerability. He reminds us that sometimes loss is gain and we need to learn to frame it that way. If we are controlled more from the inside out, it will lessen the influence the outside world may try to have on us!
Jeffrey Cartwright, facilitator, trauma clinician and fire instructor has developed a simple method to help build resiliency and maintain happiness which he calls the 4×4 Foundations.
One of the traits he focuses on is our ability to recalibrate. Just like a GPS system that recalibrates when it senses our car is going the wrong way, we need the ability to do that in our own lives. Often, we are just rushing through our day.
Instead we need to be able to stop and think through the reason we are feeling the way we feel, especially if it involves anger or feelings of inadequacy. The more that we can take control and build a strong foundation, the happier we will be and that in turn will help us to build and maintain a personal foundation of resiliency.
If there is one thing that Jeffrey Cartwright, a certified mental health first aid instructor, is passionate about, it’s his mission to help others deal with their trauma. As an accomplished firefighter he has not only dealt with his own trauma, but also witnessed first-hand how powerfully it can affect others. While sharing some personal stories, he asks a powerful question…what happens to a person when they experience a traumatic event?
His answer, you can never run from it or deny it as it will eventually present itself in your life. He reminds us that everyone has a story and what ultimately defines them is how they chose to live through it. Did it empower them instead of turning themselves into a victim? While time does not always heal all wounds, it does give us an opportunity to embrace our painful experiences. “Post traumatic” growth let’s us control the narrative in a good way. Jeffrey’s advice? Let your trauma be a call to action. If you are struggling, talk to someone and be committed to facing your demons. Life is so much better when we live it then when we are surviving it.
We don’t always get a good leader, but there are common traits that have allowed us to recognize when we cross paths with one. Whether a parent, a teacher or even someone at work, they exhibited traits that made you feel connected to them. It’s because we trusted them, they empowered us and made us feel good about ourselves. Jeffrey Cartwright, mental health expert, illustrates how there is often the “real” boss in an organization, but then there is the “other” boss who is really making an impact with the employees.
They are the ones who really understand the workplace culture and the variables that can affect success by respecting the tendencies and personalities of the workers around them. Jeffrey shares the powerful story of Major Winters whose time in the army was showcased in the movie “Band of Brothers.” No matter the horrible circumstances, Major Winters led his troops with grace, patience and courage.
The lesson for all leaders, when things are good we should fall to the back, acknowledge the team and let them take the credit. When things are tough, we should step to the front and lead. When you control your character and your goal is to do the right thing, everything else will fall into place.
Jeffrey Cartwright, facilitator and trauma clinician, acknowledges that it’s not always easy to be positive due to all of the negativity that exists in our society today, especially how it plays out on social media. For some reason, people find it easier to pick apart what makes us different instead of celebrating that our individual uniqueness is actually what makes us more interesting.
Everyone needs some positivity to be inspired in their lives and not be afraid to make mistakes, but rather use them as learning opportunities. Right now, he feels that people don’t have as many personal leaders or a “hero” to look up to which can be taking a toll on our overall mental health without us realizing it.