Why Business Executives with Disabilities Must Take Back Their HealthCare Now

by Derick SullivanJanuary 10, 2023


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Anything less than full throttle is not an option for any business leader, but when you're running the company with a disability, it takes something more than overcoming a lack of confidence or changing perceptions in the boardroom.

It's already tough to get to the top, let alone run your own business. When you get there, taking a day off is not an option; neither is calling in sick. If you require special accommodations, your biggest fear is that corporate heads will put someone else in your role — someone without the need for doctor's visits, work accommodations, or even surgeries.

Leaders with limitations often push themselves to prove to stockholders and CEOs that they can thrive in a stressful environment, outperform others gunning for the top role, and do everything themselves. But this is an unrealistic and dangerous way of thinking; this mindset is often responsible for deteriorating health and well-being as leaders put off important medical visits, forego physical therapy or miss medications.

There is a way to take control of your health and wellness, but it takes a proactive, intentional approach. You can run your personal healthcare strategy the way you run your company — using the skills that brought you your current success. Here are three ways to take back the reins and manage your health.

Related: How Hiring People With Disabilities Will Make Your Business Stronger

1. Seize your day

You may feel you don't have time for your condition, but if you intentionally plan your medical visits, you can take control of every facet of your personal health care by choosing when you see health care providers. You can decide the time of day and, most often, the frequency of visits to physicians and therapists.

Think about which appointments are taxing and which help you and your mindset; in other words, which visits work with your day rather than against it. Some physical therapy sessions, for example, might look like a gym routine; for others, therapy might be more relaxing, such as massage or meditation. Think about where in the day your medical visit would best help your productivity — and plan accordingly.

If therapy relieves you, schedule it early in the day, perhaps at the beginning. You can choose your medical professional based on availability in the morning. But if you're going through something that puts you in a negative mental or emotional state, save it for the end of the day or even the weekend.

Business leaders with limitations often complain that they don't like leaving work, where they feel most confident and take pride in what they do, to walk into a doctor's office feeling helpless and out of control. If you're in corporate leadership, you may feel that the negativity you experience going to the doctor goes against the positive mindset you need to motivate others and run your company effectively. But the skills you employ daily running your business can take you far in planning and managing your healthcare needs.

Related: Why Leaders with Disabilities Bring a Secret Weapon to the Negotiating Table

2. Be your own advocate

As a leader, you've been hired to solve the tough problems for your company. You can apply this same know-how to your healthcare by assembling a team of positive, upbeat and effective healthcare providers to help you achieve your wellness goals. So often, we accept assigned healthcare workers or doctors on referral. We don't look past the general requirements of insurance policies to ask questions that could help us find the right individuals to form a healthcare team to support our needs.

Find like-minded people to care for you. If you need a physical therapist with a "coach" mindset, do the research, read the reviews and find one. If you need a counselor for talk therapy to help you cope with your condition, keep digging and asking questions until you find the right person.

Since you're giving up a large portion of your day to attend to your health needs, use the same mindset you have for hiring people at the workplace. Does each person on your team have a positive mindset? Do you feel uplifted when you leave the clinic, even if all the news isn't good? Does each member of your healthcare team listen to your needs and help you find solutions? Why would you sacrifice your health by accepting unvetted practitioners if you don't accept inferior performance at work?

Don't accept "No," for an answer, and don't listen when someone says that a much-needed treatment is not covered by insurance. Often, a little self-advocating can go a long way. You will eventually find a person willing to help you get answers. Using your leadership skills to advocate for yourself and how you stand in the gap for your company is important.

Related: Employers Need Workers. Now They're Realizing The Untapped Talent of These People.

3. Delegate to create a work-life balance

If you're in a leadership role, you may not hire employees directly, but knowing who to trust in your workforce is central to managing your company if you have a disability. You'll need a "go-to" person to step in for you. Find the person who can keep the home fires burning, take that person under your wing, and bring them up to speed on the specific needs of your role in the company. Share with them how you do things, especially the daily schedule, the "musts" of your job, and where to find important information.

You can simplify this for others if you learn to embrace technology. Invest in researching tech that keeps you in the loop, even if you're in physical therapy or recovering from surgery. Look for training on iPhone or Android technology that can help you see spreadsheets, scan reports, analyze productivity or go over profit and loss figures, all from your phone.

Thriving at work is essential; however, managing your time is key to taking control of your wholeness. Your well-being is as vital to the company as it is to you and your loved ones. There's always time to invest in a healthier and more productive future. You can turn the tide on your health needs using the know-how that brought you to lead in the first place.


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