Julie Thorson
Julie Thorson

As I’m sitting down to write today’s blog I’m listening to “Tip-Toe Through the Tulips” being played on our beautiful grand piano in our lobby. 

I have no idea who is playing. I just know we are all enjoying it. I’m also listening to laughter in the offices around me, not to mention team members and residents cracking jokes in the hallway. 

The first days of any year make me feel a bit nostalgic and think of residents and team members from the past. All of the stories, tears and laughter … what an amazing place we get to come to and work at!

As writer’s block started to set in, though, I got to thinking: What could I possibly have to share that I haven’t already? So, like any good amateur wannabe hobby blogger, I looked up what I have written for McKnight’s these past few years and even re-read a few of my blogs.

Talk about a trip down memory lane. This blog has become a great way to share insights, but it also took me back to what was going on at other times in my life. How I was feeling, who was in my life, what has changed, and how I as a leader have changed. 

All of a sudden, I stumbled across what I want to share with you as we start 2020 the right way. 

In August of 2015, I wrote an article called “It’s hard work having this much fun.” Now I know you’re dying to read it and you will get your chance, but before you do, it dawned on me: I feel the exact same way today as I did that sunny August day in 2015.

Sure, a lot has changed. We’ve said goodbye to many people and welcomed many more. We’ve grown, we’ve learned, we’ve made mistakes. But at the end of the day this work is FUN. So, how was that for a buildup?

You have to read the old blog now to appreciate today. Click on the link. I’ll wait.

Right? Wasn’t that good? I wrote that! Sometimes I surprise myself. It all rings true today, and what better way to start the year then a nice friendly reminder that we should be having fun at work.  

If you are not having fun, get over it! Make it fun. One person can make a difference, and that person can be you. I don’t care what position you hold — we all have the power and ability to be positive and have fun.

Even in the most stressful of circumstances, laughter in the right setting can cure everything. That’s not to mention, a smile can go along way. 

I’ve never claimed to be a scientific guru on living leadership, but I do know about having fun and what it can do for your culture. If you aren’t having fun, you really think your team is? 

I would hate to think of working in such a sterile environment where having fun was frowned upon. We can be very serious about the work we do, strive for excellence even, but along the way having fun and creating meaningful relationships is a necessity!

Sorry, but now I have to share that “Puff the Magic Dragon is the song now being played in the lobby. And I love it.

I’m back, smiling, grateful and excited to kick off 2020 with you the right way … by having FUN. Try it. We are lucky, we are blessed and sharing experiences with every generation at work is a true joy.

We work in the best field in the country because we enter homes every day and get to be the thread that ties the lives of many generations together. 

I have to go now; I’m going to go ask our piano player to play “Auld Lang Syne” and officially start the new year with a big ol’ smile!

Julie Thorson’s 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 recently completed Leading Age’s Leadership Educator Program.