Julie Thorson

If this is the first time you are reading this Living Leadership blog, you are in for a treat.

At the beginning of 2021, I took on a challenge I never imagined would be so fulfilling. It was a gift to reflect each month and work in a quote in every blog from one of our most famous thought leaders of all time. 

Today, I’m happy to let you know that embedded within each 2021 Living Leadership blog, there was a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.

I’ll admit some were tough to pick out, but others not so much.  As I reflect on the year and look back at the connection between each blog title and the hidden quote, I’m reminded of what a year this has been — a year of challenges, resiliency and hope.

I hope you enjoy this big reveal and find some of my humble words and MLK’s words to be reflective and inspiring. 

We started the year introducing this crazy concept. “A fun, interactive, optimistic approach to 2021” contained a quote that was absolutely the best way to kick off the year. 

“Courage is the power of the mind to overcome the fear.”

In February, we took time to reflect and ask  “The lingering question.” In other words, are we doing enough? MLK reminded us: 

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is,
‘What are you doing for others?’”

In March, there was so much going on we actually published two Living Leadership blogs. In the first blog, we shifted just a bit to that ever-daunting task of forgiveness in “Forgiveness in leadership.” The tie, of course, pushes us to a bigger answer not just for long-term care but for life. This month’s MLK quote was,

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.” 

Read that one again and ask yourself, “What is my attitude?”

Also in March, like the entire year, we found ourselves on a roller coaster ride, reflected in “The silent screams.” The MLK quote found within this blog is one of my favorites and one of the hardest to live by. 

“Find a voice in a whisper. Our lives begin to end the day we
become silent about things that matter.”

Next in April, we introduced a strange analogy as a way of illustrating the importance of the vaccine. I looked to my good friend, Kim Bergen-Jackson, for the comparison that helped her tell the story in “Meatloaf as the solution to vaccinations.” For impact, we used another version of MLK’s words,

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent
about things that matter.”

In May we introduced a needed chuckle. Instead of letting the pressure get to us, we bought new pants in “Need some new elastic?” We start to see more references to how resilient we are. The MLK quote in this blog was,

“Let no man pull you so low enough to mute him.”

There was no blog in June 2021. That was the month I started seeing things differently. Literally. This was the month I had detached retina surgery on my right eye. Still today, I can’t see clearly. What I can “see,” however, is a vision for our way going forward. My sight isn’t totally clear yet, but my resolve to heal in our field has become crystal clear. 

July was the month where “Pandemic paralysis” set in, and MLK reminded us of an obvious answer: 

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

August was around the time where personally I remembered I had a life outside of work again, and I shared reflections from a class reunion in “Where did 30 years go?” The MLK quote reminded us to take one small step at a time; I consider it a quote to help us all slowly move forward. 

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in great ways.”

In September, we started to focus on leadership in action in “Four choices.” This blog was meaningful in that it was one of the first written without an underlying reference to COVID. The MLK quote hidden in this leadership lesson is a good one! 

“When you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.”

In October, again we were reminded of our path forward in “Recovering or healing.” The MLK quote is one that, of course, continues to prove to be one of the great lessons in life. 

“The time is always right to do what is right.” 

As we focused on the month of thanks, in November we start to see even more efforts to cherish the present and appreciate the past with “Appreciation, with no regrets.” The simple yet powerful quote from MLK was one we all need to remember as we navigate the next year. 

“We cannot walk alone.”

As we close out 2021, the anticipation of what’s to come is exciting and a little scary. What will 2022 bring? That remains to be seen. 

This year of hiding the Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes within the blog was one that forced me to think more creatively and intentionally, and focus on the works of one of the great thought leaders of all time and how he continues to inspire and teach us lessons today. 

Thanks for taking this journey with me — I’d love to hear from you if any of the blogs or MLK quotes helped you along the way. 

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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.  

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.