We often feel overwhelmed as issue after issue lays itself at our feet. Many things must be done and concerns addressed in a leader’s day. 

Today’s environment in healthcare feels like a tsunami. Most leaders think the wave is too big, and they cannot get on top of it and ride it to the shore. Except for one administrator that I had the pleasure of working with, as she supported her organization through incredible change. 

In interviewing her as part of the assessment I would be doing for her, I noticed that she was unshakable in her vision and passion for those she served. I laid my pen down and asked her how she had such strength in her leadership. 

She smiled and said she always looks to her North Star to remind her of the path forward. She shared that the North Star, also known as Polaris, is always in the exact location in the sky every night from dusk to dawn, neither rising nor setting.

I asked her to tell me more. She shared that travelers used the North Star to guide them across the oceans. The star always pointed the way, even in the most turbulent seas. By the look on my face, she knew that I was thinking she wasn’t a sea captain. She laughed and said she was the ship’s captain in many ways. She had accountability for the safety and care of her residents and employees. She ensured policies were followed and measures taken to do the best job — every day. She laughed and said sometimes it felt like she was turning the Titanic in a bathtub. She suddenly became serious, removing her glasses and leaning forward, “Frankly, the work is exhausting, and when I feel myself faltering, I look to my North Star.”

As a creative individual, I immediately had a mental picture of her standing on a vista, looking up to the sky, and in truth, she might do that. But in further conversations with her, I heard about how she knew her purpose and how she used it to ground her leadership. When the world was swirling, she maintained her eye on the present, grounded in who she was and what she believed.

Looking to your North Star is knowing your purpose. The deeper meaning of purpose, which makes it all worthwhile, is more than just helping yourself thrive and succeed. The most successful and fulfilled people know that they have a role in making life easier and better for  everyone. 

The Harvard Business Review wrote in the 2012 article “What Wise Leaders Always Follow” the following:

“We have a choice in creating the life that we desire. With our judgment, choices, actions we take, we change the course of our future and steer our destiny, moment by moment. Wisdom is not about focusing on the future but rather about acting in the present, aligned with our North Star.” 

The last statement is worth reading again: “Wisdom is not about focusing on the future but rather about acting in the present, aligned with our North Star.” 

Acting in the present, aligned with purpose, we lead forward.

Martie L. Moore, MAOM, RN, CPHQ, is the President/CEO of M2WL Consulting. She has been an executive healthcare leader for more than 20 years. She has served on advisory boards for the National Pressure Injury Advisory Panel and the American Nurses Association, and she currently serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board at the University of Central Florida College of Nursing and Sigma, International Honor Society for Nursing. She was honored by Saint Martin’s University with an honorary doctorate degree for her service and accomplishments in advancing healthcare.

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.

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