We’ve all heard the questions. What keeps you up at night? What is the scariest thing we are faced with in our field today? Likely, we all come up with a similar list.

The bag of tricks consists of workforce issues, reimbursement changes, regulatory pressures, and so on and so forth. The list is terrifying, and it’s hard to imagine a future where everything falls into place and makes our world “easy.”

I would offer that those scary issues are not the most frightening. The most terrifying issue of all is the “A” word. Apathy is the monster knocking at the door.

The idea of just going along because it’s easier to do that. We are afraid of the hard work. The courage to stand up for what’s right in our field is without a doubt our biggest beast. Too many of our peers take the easy way out because, why bother? Nothing changes anyway (right?).

That, my friends, should appall you. Our quiet field needs to make a raucous noise. In many ways, we do this to ourselves. We accept the way things are because it’s the way they’ve always been. I’m not suggesting every organization is this way. I would say our organization fights it every day, but I also know that even the best organizations employ individuals who will take the easy way out rather than do the right thing.

So how do we battle the apathy monster? How do we convince employees and organizations who have succumbed to the institutional creep there is a better way? The battle isn’t easy, and there isn’t a quick fix. I do know, however, the answer starts with leadership.         

In order to knock apathy out of any organization, leadership has to not accept it.

Sounds easy enough. In reality, it’s our biggest challenge. Exhaustion, frustration, and impatience can set in and overtake us. Our passion has to not let excuses become the norm. Excuses equal a reason to stop trying. Add that to complacency and we have a house of horrors, or a house of apathy.

Laziness, boredom and accepting the way it’s also been done is the nightmare we are facing. All of the other things that keep us up at night will always be there. The attitude of there’s nothing we can do about it should be our biggest fear.

These are scary times with real issues knocking at the door. As leaders we must be the ones to keep our teams pointed in the right direction. To set the vision for the future and offer hope for our field that we are offering more and doing more for those we serve. The institutional creep isn’t welcome here and understanding “the why” is everyone’s treat.

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 life plan community in Fort Dodge, IA. 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. She is currently a mentor in LeadingAge Iowa’s Emerge leadership program.