Julie Thorson

This isn’t your typical “Set your goals,” or “Make your resolutions” blog but rather a challenge for readers. Should you accept to go on this journey with me in 2021, I warmly welcome you. It will take commitment, stamina, curiosity and a willingness to accept my unique sense of wonder and appreciation for all things leadership. Are you ready to join the journey? Read on. 

I’ve been writing this blog now for several years; I love to do it, don’t claim to be good at it, but the thing I enjoy the most is hearing how my silly writings impact you. So, this year, let’s shake things up. I would like to offer a perspective on leadership that needs to make sense, needs to be fun, and will be interactive. Yup, I said it, interactive. I’m sure you are asking yourself how a blog can be interactive. Well, let’s get to it. 

I’m mustering up some courage here to try something totally different for 2021. I have found pushing myself is important, especially when in 2020 I was focusing on just enough to get by. 2020 gave us confusion, uncertainly, and doubt in so many facets of life, including my personal leadership abilities. Let’s be honest, 2020 did bring out the best in us, but, for me at least, it also brought out my worst qualities.  I’d like to humbly offer you leadership columns without judgment; leadership that is simply meant as a monthly reminder that we can all do a little better.

Each month there will be clues embedded in this blog to offer a lesson greater than mine, but hopefully it won’t be completely obvious. It will make you think. It will make you all look a little closer. Not all things are as simple as they may appear. If you take the time to look between the lines, there may be just a bit more here. There is power in a group (readers of this blog) coming together — possibly without even knowing each other — to focus on something simply meant to help each of us in our own ways. 

We have so many gifts waiting for us out there… the ability to learn more every day from leaders that came before us. 

So, here’s the deal: 12 clues/quotes in 12 months all connected, yet all can stand on their own. You must use your mind in a way perhaps you haven’t before. The answer will be right there every month. 

The first clue is actually hidden in this blog (and the first word of it already mentioned). If you get it in the first month, I must not be as clever as I had hoped, but hopefully there is still fun in finding out. Maybe even as much fun as I’ve had putting this together for 2021.

I promise I’ll let you know if you’ve figured out the month’s quote, if you send me an email at Julie.thorson@friendshiphaven.org. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll let you know right away about guesses as to the overall theme or if I will wait until December 2021 to end the suspense. 

At the end of this year, all will be revealed: every clue from each month’s blog and an explanation of how they all fit together. Curious? I hope so.

I need this, and maybe you do too. It’s something to look forward to each month, something fun and something that reminds us we are leaders, we make a difference, and learning can come from having fun and making connections, even if we don’t know each other yet.

I want to share with you, my long-term care leaders, a renewed sense of optimism and focus on leadership. We all need to overcome the despair from 2020. It will take work and intentionality. I’m offering a chance to do this together in the spirit of leadership.

As I look back on 2020, there is much we can be proud of, but I also feel like there is a lot we can learn.

For me personally, fear took much more of a front seat than she should have. I should have pushed fear to the trunk; instead, many days and many nights I let her ride shotgun. A lesson I will work towards never repeating again. In so many ways I let fear cripple me. My hope for 2021 is she is no longer a passenger; that she is a fleeting thought and not one that holds me back.

* * *

There you go. Your first installment of Living Leadership for 2021. Look again, there is more here than meets the eye. Do you see it? Here is a hint: There are five words in this blog that are part of a quote from one of our country’s most prolific speakers. The first one is in the third paragraph and the last one is in the paragraph above this.

Every month I will let you know how many “main” words are in the quote. They all appear in order (with connecting words also noted at the end).

For example, this month’s words are connected for this excellent leadership statement: “C_________ is the _____ of the  ______ to________    __________.”

Make sure you read again next month and the month after. This blog will offer a leadership reminder along with a hidden message, all connected by one common theme.

Happy hunting, and let me know if you figure it out!

Julie Thorson was the 2018 recipient of the LeadingAge Dr. Herbert Shore Outstanding Mentor of the Year award. Thorson is currently a coach for the Leading Age’s Larry Minnix Leadership Academy.  Her “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 life plan community in Fort Dodge, IA, Thorson is a coach’s daughter at heart. A former part-time nursing home social worker, she is a licensed nursing home administrator and completed Leading Age’s Leadership Educator Program last summer.