Displaying kindness and expressing concern and support for others is needed now more than ever, as people face unprecedented difficulties including financial hardships, anxiety due to uncertainty of the future, and various other obstacles and challenges. This is one of the essential core values of leadership, as caring for others brings respect, trust, loyalty, and courage. Reaching out to care for one another breaks boundaries and perceived limitations. In return it brings us joy and unites us as One!

A colleague shared with me the story of a stranger on horseback in civilian clothes about 200 years ago riding past a small group of tired soldiers who were digging to create an important defensive position. The leader of this group was not making any effort to help, and in fact he was barking orders and threatened to punish the group if the work was not done within the hour. The stranger asked why this leader was not helping them. The leader glared at the stranger and said, “Help them yourself if you feel so strongly about it.” To the leader’s surprise, the stranger got off the horse and helped the men until the job was finished. The stranger then congratulated the men for their hard work. The stranger told the confused leader, “You should notify the top command next time your rank prevents you from supporting your men – and I will provide a more permanent solution.” Up close, the leader realized that the stranger was none other than General George Washington! Irrespective of our roles, it is our responsibility to take care of each other.

The AASM leadership cares about our members, our patients, and the field of sleep medicine; leadership has taken several initiatives lately, such as establishing a $200,000 COVID-19 Relief Fund to provide assistance to state and regional sleep societies that are financially struggling after having to cancel their educational conferences because of the pandemic. We also distributed a pulse survey to identify issues and challenges that our members face currently due to COVID-19. We greatly appreciate our members who took a few minutes of their time to complete this survey. We will be discussing the results in further detail with the board and will work to develop strategic steps to address suggestions and concerns to benefit our members. We will share the results in a report on the AASM website. I also thank those of you who trusted me with your COVID-19 stories and frustrations. I empathize with your struggles, and yet am amazed by your strength and resilience! We at the AASM can and need to do more to care for our members. As I would like to continue to hear from you, we will be holding a Presidential town hall forum on Sept. 10 to hear from our members directly and outline strategies to benefit our members. I have requested our COVID-19 Task Force chair, Dr. Indira Gurubhagavatula, and the Advocacy Committee chair, Dr. Thomas Speer, to join me at this forum.  We look forward to hearing from you!

As we care for others, we also need to take care of ourselves; the stronger we are, the better we can care for others. One aspect to take care of ourselves is to take time for reflection and understand how we can improve. The AASM board of directors recently underwent a board self-assessment survey to not only identify areas of improvement, but also to benchmark ourselves against other high-performing organizations. We as a board have started to work toward improvements that will help us better care for our members and patients. Let us all continue caring and lifting each other up to inspire joy within us.

Kannan Ramar, MD