Living Leadership

Living Leadership

At the end of the day

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Julie Thorson
Julie Thorson

There is always more that can be done. We can second guess decisions, make lists that will never be completely crossed off, be critical of our own performance, and we can certainly be critical of others' performances.

There are myriad of problems presented to us every day. It's easy to see why turnover in our profession is so high.

The sky is literally falling, after all. How many times in a day do you think, or maybe even say out loud, “There is no way I'm going to be able to get this all done”? Or better yet, how many times a day does someone who reports to you say, “There is no way I can get this all done, and by the way, there is no way any of our employees can get done all that is expected of them”?

We are in the people business, and basically that is why it is so hard. Not only do we work with people, but we work alongside people.

The people we serve are not the same and the people we work with are certainly not the same. If everyone had the same work ethic and if all the residents we served had the same personalities and expectations, this work would be boring.

It's not! It's exciting, challenging and the most rewarding work any of us has ever done. That is why we stick around.

I've said it before and again, I'm no expert — I'm in the thick of it just like you. Leadership has little to do with flawlessness but everything to do with giving it your best every day. The days that you don't, give yourself a break and let yourself off the hook if even for a few minutes.

Hopefully you are lucky enough to work with a team that sees you may be a little off, and rather than criticize you, they work to bring you back up. It isn't easy; no one said it would be.

However, the little wins are the best. The little wins are what we should be talking about around the water cooler.

You know the wins I'm talking about. That moment when residents share their spectacular joys with you. Every day we get to experience life through their eyes. We get to see a past and a present they happen to have years of experience living in, they have so much to offer and we are here to learn!

Let's not dwell on the fails or the night everything went to heck in a handbasket because we were “short.” It's going to happen. Am I speaking your language yet?

There are plenty of other professions out there that work with people, many, many customer service related industries, but ours is different. It's not one singular customer service experience — it's never ending. Our doors do not close. There are no snow days. (Even though we're in Iowa, where there can be snow days and the town shuts down … but not us!)

My leadership lesson for today's blog is simple: At the end of the day, all anyone expects you to do is show up, be your best possible you, and come back tomorrow and do it all over again.

Julie Thorson's “Living Leadership” blog was named the 2016 “Best New Department” Bronze Award winner by the American Society of Health Publication Editors. The president and CEO of Friendship Haven, a continuing care retirement community in Fort Dodge, IA, that earned the Governor's Award for Quality under her, Thorson is a coach's daughter at heart. She is a former part-time nursing home social worker who quickly ascended the leadership ranks. Now a licensed nursing home administrator, she has been a participant in LeadingAge's Leadership Academy and LeadingAge Iowa's Mentor of the Year. 

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