I was listening to a speaker the other day talk about how it is almost a status symbol in today’s workplace to be overwhelmed by projects, input, decisions, information, and policies. The speaker suggested that a more successful approach was to measure and respect our own “personal bandwidth.”
I am not a technology guru, but I do understand bandwidth and its similarity to a water pipe system. Too small a pipe, you have crummy water pressure in the shower. Too large a pipe, water settles and stagnates. Same with Bandwidth. Bandwidth is the pipeline that carries technology from us to the outer world, and from the outer world to us. Narrow bandwidth means slow processing, or a complete overload and shutdown of the system. Wide bandwidth, beyond what you need, means you are not using all your resources.
The speaker’s point was that we all have a “personal bandwidth,” too. Each of us is able to take in a certain amount of information, process it, understand it, make decisions and move on. If we overload our personal capacity we get bogged down, or shut down completely. If we have great capacity and limited input, we may be bored and feel under-utilized.
Of course, as a human being, I thought of myself first and where I'm at in terms of capacity…but then I quickly moved to thinking about the kids at the Ranch. Ranch kids are trauma survivors. They have had to develop strong sensory skills to keep themselves safe… it is called hyper-vigilance. They are constantly on high alert, taking in the information around them to measure their security. At the same time as they are driven to take in so much, they often have very narrow “personal bandwidth.” They have not been taught coping skills, they don’t trust, they may not have faith, and they haven’t learned about good decision making.
When kids take in lots of information and have no way to process it, it all becomes too much for their capacity. They either blow up or shut down…just like when our technology is overloaded.
We don't usually talk about it this way, but maybe one way of thinking about our work at the Ranch is that we help kids manage their “personal bandwidth.” By providing treatment, coaching, therapy (mental health and occupational), life skills, and spiritual life, we help kids expand their “personal bandwidth. They learn how to cope when there is too much external stimuli, and how to challenge themselves when there is too little. They learn to choose their responses. They find peace.
And isn’t that what we wish for them… and ourselves.
In His love,
Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
P.S. If you are struggling with your own personal bandwidth, consider seeing an outpatient therapist. The mental health professionals at Dakota Family Services, the outpatient clinic founded by Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, can help you find peace in the midst of your life circumstances. Call Dakota Family Services at 1-800-201-6495, or learn more at DakotaFamilyServices.org.