Find hidden hope and hold on to it.  

Hope in healthcare hides in plain sight. Hope is here. It’s unfortunate that sometimes the moments of frustration overtake our soft, but powerful, hopeful attitude. 

The loud, but weak, voices can drag us all down. Our responsibility as leaders is to find hope even when it is hiding. 

We, myself included, search daily for answers to problems that plague us and keep us down. Problems that, if we are honest, will most likely always be here. Just when we think we figure things out, the rules change, people change and circumstances change. 

Staffing, for example, is certainly a daily conversation and it’s easy to lose sight of the possibilities of what could be because we are focused on the next shift, tonight’s opening and tomorrow’s call in. Being excited about the future when the present feels bleak is tough. 

How do we offer hope during a time where our teams can’t see beyond the next shift? How do we offer hope when we feel as if we are trying to put out fires and just when we think the smoke has cleared, the flame burns hotter?  

I have some suggestions that aren’t rocket science; they may even seem elementary. But I believe if practiced more, teammates will in turn provide hope to their teammates. Make hope a part of your daily routine. Invite hope in at every opportunity. Imprint hope and share hope through every interaction you have during the day.  So, here are four reminders of how we could provide hope every day: 

Smile, even when you are hurting. Smile, when you see others and every time you interact with others. Smiling is a requirement, a non-negotiable.  This provides a sense of calm that everything will be alright. You can make yourself smile, no excuses. 

Laugh, and laugh out loud. Laugh with each other. Laugh at yourself. Share a story, share a joke. I had a teammate who believed in laughter yoga and when he started laughing, we all couldn’t help but join in and laugh so hard our faces hurt. This reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously and there is fun to be had. 

Ask thoughtful optimistic questions. What if it works? Every time fear enters the conversation and teammates seem to focus on the worst-case scenario, be the one in the room to remind everyone, “What if it works? What if the best outcome happens? What if?” 

Check yourself. If your own bad attitude takes center stage and your presence brings others down, get your head right. As leaders, if our approach is the problem, we must fix it. 

How you enter the room matters, your body language matters, your approach matters. If you are constantly negative, hope suffers. Fix yourself and recognize you may be part of the problem. 

I’m not suggesting these four suggestions will fix everything. What I am offering is if we believe providing hope for our teams is a responsibility held by us all, then moments absolutely matter. 

These hope reminders will help create a culture where team members believe their role is bigger than a “job.” Our influence directly impacts lives and hope is perhaps the most important thing team members need from us as leaders.   

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Julie Thorson was the 2018 recipient of the LeadingAge Dr. Herbert Shore Outstanding Mentor of the Year award. She currently co-facilitates LeadingAge Iowa’s Leadership Academy. She is a LeadingAge Academy fellow and former coach. The Head Coach (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 an alumna of LeadingAge’s Leadership Educator Program.

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