California Wildfires – Life brings us to unexpected places. Love brings us home

“We are evacuating”   This is the text message I received On Thursday, July 26 at 9:54 pm from Candis Willis, the Compass Senior Living Director of Operations for the SW Region.  Sundial Assisted Living, located in Redding California – where 45 residents needed to get away from the ever-expanding fires, now nearing their address on Hilltop Road.

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Candis Willis, Compass Senior Living Director of Operations and Suzanna Trompszynski, the Administrator at Sundial had attended a  Disaster preparedness Symposium in Sacramento exactly one month earlier on June 26th, 2018.

Little did Suzanna know that exactly one month later she would be in a position to act.

Plan A July 26

The morning of July 26th Suzanna rented a Uhaul to prepare to take the med cart and wheelchairs if an evacuation was needed.  She prepped the residents and the team. She made sure everyone had a change of clothing ready.  Suzanna called all of the family members to let them know that they were preparing in the event they needed to evacuate.

As the fire reports came in during the day, some of the families came and took their loved ones home with them into an area not at risk of the fires.

When the text message came to me from Candis at 9:54 pm, they were leaving Sundial with 24 residents – transporting in employee cars.   They were hoping to find a hotel to check everyone into.  They learned quickly that all hotels south of Redding were fully booked, as many people had already evacuated from their homes to hotels.

Plan B July 26 was to take everyone to our sister Community in Citrus Heights California, Sun Oak Senior Living – east of Sacramento.  The Administrator, Kaye Key indicated they were prepared to take the residents.  About 2 am the weary travelers arrived, and spent the night at Sun Oak Senior Living, safely together.  They were warmly welcomed and comforted by the Sun Oak team.

The next morning, Suzanna got word that the evacuation was lifted and they started the return journey home to Redding.

But – on the way home they learned how unpredictable this fire was and discovered it was not yet safe to go back to Sundial Assisted Living.

Plan C – July 27

Suzanna and seven of her employees decided to take the residents to their own homes. The remarkable courage and commitment of the team was a beautiful expression of care and love. They ate together, played together, and gave great comfort and courage to one another.

Love Brings them home

Saturday, July 28, the residents that had been on this rescue journey were able to return home to Sundial Assisted Living.  By Monday, July 30, all of the residents, including those who were staying with families are expected to come back to their home.

But that’s not all.   Mark Broadhead who grew up in Redding and is now retired from the Airforce wanted to help his hometown.  Mark lives in  Gig Harbor Washington now.  He appealed to the residents of Gig Harbor, and as a result, he arrived on Sunday, July 29th  with over 3000 pounds of water and food and supplies for the evacuation centers in Redding.   Mark, the son of Candis Willis continues to serve his country and his community with acts of love and kindness. His generosity and honorable acts were embraced with gratitude.  

We are all connected – and in trying times heroes emerge, and character is defined.

This is a story of heroism and courage.  It is also a story about being prepared.  This is a call to all of us who have the responsibility for the precious lives of elders to plan, protect and prepare so you can act with confidence, critical thinking, and yes – with love too.

In the end – Love always brings us home!

(There is another Disaster training in September.  Check it out! )


As the time of this posting 98,724 acres are involved, and 20% contained.  720+ homes in Shasta county are destroyed.  over 1,000+ structures destroyed.   6 fatalities (including 2 firefighters), 7 people are missing.  35,000+ people evacuated.  Many in evacuation centers in Shasta County.    Please send your prayers and thoughts to the people impacted by this tragedy.


Jean Garboden, Director of Education & Innovation at Compass Senior Living

About the author: Jean Garboden is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit healthcare organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living in Eugene, Oregon. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada

 

 

Always stay humble and kind

I work in the Senior Housing Industry. As we deal with the everyday stressors of running our communities, an angry family member, an employee who doesn’t show up to work, a vendor that doesn’t provide a service in a timely manner, we can become reactive to the situation and often times defensive.  It’s taken me many years to learn how to deal with these issues and here’s how I do it:

  • I try to stop to think for a moment what that angry family member might be going through, why that employee didn’t show up to work, the reason that vendor is late and put myself in their shoes for just a split second.
  • Maybe I can be more understanding and not so reactive or defensive.
  • When I find myself reacting or getting defensive, I take a deep breath, excuse myself, and walk away for a moment.
  • Then I resolve to meet the situation head-on with a clear head and a kind heart.

It feels great to let go of anger, not hold a grudge, and move on with the belief that when I do the right things, good things will come to me and everyone else around me.

I have a favorite saying, which has become my mantra in life: “Always stay humble and kind.”  When dealing with situations that are not ideal, I remember these words, and only then am I in control of my actions.

Screen Shot 2018-07-08 at 5.04.23 AMUnderstanding others, not taking things personally, and living up to my personal expectations of myself of staying humble and kind has been a personal growth intention. Life is an evolution of our spirits as we seek to be the very best version of ourselves – climbing  Maslow’s hierarchy of needs   pyramid to someday becoming self-actualized.

This  is a personal journey and a quest for all of us.

How will you reach self-actualization?

 

 


About the author:   Candis Willis, Director of Operations – Western Region Compass Senior Living

img_0434Candis lives in Redding, California. She says, “The  best part of this work is connecting with residents and seeing them flourish when they thought life would be over because of leaving their homes.”   Candis loves having the opportunity each day to give back to elders a portion of what they have given to many others.    Candis believes everything happens for a reason, and even though life isn’t always easy, we have the opportunity to learn and grow from each and every experience. Playing with her grandchildren, enjoying the outdoors, yard work, and hiking are her favorite pastimes with her family.

 

What does your Crescendo look like?

Life is a series of events that, when put together, write your story. The next chapter is up to you. Always strive to write it better than the one before. . .your Crescendo.

My story

I have moved through my life, guided by the silent anticipation and stereotype of what each stage of my life should look like. I became focused on seeking certain expectations, or landmarks so to speak, that I thought I needed to achieve during each decade as I aged with the vision of my future during my teens hitting its pinnacle when I hit middle-age. And then, all of a sudden I found myself sitting at that pinnacle. That age where I realized that I am now on the cusp of a stage in my life that seemed so far away – elderhood.  While the story I have written so far is good, it is not really what I envisioned and it sure isn’t over.

I have started to think about what aging looks like and how I will wear it as I move closer to that reality. Will I have blue-gray hair? Will I use a walker? Will I have to give up my drivers license? Will I shuffle when I walk? Will I view it as a time of life where I sit in a rocking chair waiting for the inevitable? Will it be considered a time when living becomes viewed as ‘going through the motions’ just to get through a day?

As I enter my sixth decade of life I am one of 108.7 million folks age 50-plus.

  • This includes 76.4 million boomers (born 1946-64), compared with 49 million Gen Xers and 82 million millennials.
  • Moreover, people 50-plus will continue to grow over the next decade to the tune of 19 million vs. a growth of only 6 million for the 18-49 population.

My life is a book, with chapters created from every milestone, moment, or mundane/routine/ordinary day I have lived so far. Some chapters are thicker, happier, or more exciting than others, but these scripts are what build the story of my life.

Age loudly!  Age intensely!

Crescendo…used as a verb, it means to increase in loudness or intensity. I associate this word with music, mystery novels, movies, dramatic tv shows, and the list goes on. But I have never thought to use that word to define my life…until now.

We are supposed to get better, smarter, more vibrant, wiser with age, not simply exist to mark time. There are a lot of people out there just like me wanting to change the face of aging, to change our perception of what our elderhood will look like.

So grab that pen, write that next chapter, and create your crescendo. I know I am.

Age loudly. Live intensely.


Screen Shot 2018-07-07 at 1.01.04 PMAbout the author: Tina Woodcock is the Graphic Designer at Compass Senior Living in Eugene, Oregon. Tina creates all of the print advertising for 21 Compass Senior Living communities in 7 different states. She takes great pride in sharing the goodness, loyalty, faith, and fun of all of our communities.

The Ageist – insults our own future selves

“Ageism” was coined in 1969, two years after the Federal Discrimination in Employment Act set the age of forty as the lower bound at which workers could complain of it.

Blatant evidence  of ageism includes addressing older people in “elderspeak”—high, loud tones and a simplified vocabulary—and using nouns like “coot” and “geezer”  and “sweetie” or adjectives like “decrepit”  or “cute old lady.” The ageist person can’t grasp that most older people don’t feel so different from their youthful selves.

Zuckerberg once observed, “Young people are just smarter,” and the venture capitalist Vinod Khosla has said that “people over forty-five basically die in terms of new ideas.”  These are “Ageist Stereotypes.”

  • Those over age 40 continue to rise: the average lifespan grew more in the twentieth century than in all previous history.
  • By 2020 (only 2 years away), for the first time, there will be more people on Earth over the age of sixty-five than under the age of five.

Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging reports, “Those holding more negative age stereotypes earlier in life had significantly more accumulation of tangles and amyloid plaques.”  Negative and ageist thinking about aging – can predict our OWN aging!

  • So, if we think of aging as a negative decline – that thought-process evolves and we become the manifestation of negative ageist stereotypes we feared. Studies indicate that thinking of aging positively will contribute to our own positive aging.
  • Like the racist and the sexist, the ageist rejects an “Other” based on a perceived difference.

But ageism is singular because it’s directed at a group that at one point wasn’t the “Other”—and at a group that the ageist will one day, if all goes well, join. The ageist thus insults his own future self.

Ashton Applewhite, who wrote “This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism”  made the point that older people may not be qualitatively different from “youngers.” She notes the following:

  • only ten percent of Americans who are at least eighty-five live in nursing homes
  • and that half of those over eighty-five don’t have caregivers; for the most part – they are cognitively robust, sexually active, and enjoy better mental health than the young or middle-aged.
Attitude about Aging can impact your own aging experience.

I want you to feel great about aging!

The path to that bliss is obscure, though, because all of us think we are aging wrong. We not only have a culture promoting the stereotypes of decline, but also the opposite –  “positive aging.”  or “anti-aging.’   Comparing your state of mind to the birth date on your driver’s license gives the number more power than it deserves.

My way out of the aging pickle is looking for more examples in the media,  in the neighborhood, in my church, in my research – many more.  I am looking for examples of older people living ordinary lives, neither drooling nor dazzling.  You and I can be role models and examples as we embrace elderhood as the crescendo of a lifetime!

In most ancient and remote societies, the few people who lived to old age were esteemed as teachers and custodians of culture. This is a comforting idea – if ageism is a by-product of the modern world, it should be relatively easy to reverse.  Don’t you think we can do it?  Can we all advocate for our own future selves?


“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”  – Betty Friedan


Ashton Applewhite, creator of the blog Yo, Is This Ageist? , says the size of the boomer generation should be an advantage when shifting the discourse around aging.

Watch Applewhite’s funny, insightful, and poignant 11 minute Ted Talk about ageism here.  It is 11 minutes well spent as we are all – if we are lucky – going to age.



Jean Garboden, Director of Education & Innovation at Compass Senior Living

About the author: Jean Garboden is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit healthcare organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living in Eugene, Oregon. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada

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Flag Day – the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777

The Flag Resolution of 1777

On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed the Flag Resolution which stated:

“Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

Inspired by three decades of state and local celebrations, Flag Day – the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 – was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th, 1916.

While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson’s proclamation, it was not until August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.


It was actually in 1885 in  Wisconsin where the tradition of celebrating ‘Flag Day’ or ‘Flag Birthday’ began.

The Fourth of July was traditionally celebrated as America’s birthday, but the idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the Flag is believed to have first originated in 1885.

BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher, arranged for the pupils in the Fredonia, Wisconsin Public School, District 6, to observe June 14 (the anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes) as ‘Flag Birthday‘.

In numerous magazines and newspaper articles and public addresses over the following years, Cigrand continued to enthusiastically advocate the observance of June 14 as ‘Flag Birthday’, or ‘Flag Day’.

 


Many thanks to our Founding Fathers who had the vision and the insight to design and give birth to the United States Flag.

Happy Birthday, Stars and Stripes!

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photo credits:    The Birth of Old Glory Percy Moran, 1917


Jean Garboden, Director of Education & Innovation at Compass Senior Living

About the author: Jean Garboden is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit healthcare organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living in Eugene, Oregon. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada

 

 

The magic of trusting relationships

I have been in Senior Housing since the late ninety’s.    I have seen the evolution of the services, the regulatory standards, and the employees.

Today senior living companies are focusing even more on the people who work with them.  Demand for talented, dedicated employees keeps growing.  We are in an environment where new jobs are being created and unemployment rates are dropping.

We, like other senior housing companies, are stepping up to improve and communicate with our teams.  It is not just about the wages or the benefits, but also about the culture, growth opportunities, and inspiring trust in leadership.

We believe that trusting relationships are the most basic of human needs and the strongest foundation for caring for one another. Our decisions are guided by goodness, loyalty, faith, and fun—our True North.


 Trust is the Magic Sparkle that can change your culture!

There are many things that we can do to establish trust:

  • Being open and honest about changes that will impact them;
  • Effectively communicating by talking to them, not at them;
  • Having an open-door policy, and then following up, and being willing to pitch in to help.
  • Sometimes the smallest gesture of kindness goes a long way.

Here are some specific Magic Trust tips I have learned over the years.  These tips have worked like magic to establish trust with those I have been honored to serve – and helped me evolve and grow into a better person too.

  • Magic tip # 1: Offer Your Own Trust First. As Ernest Hemingway said, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” If you want your employees to trust you, try trusting them first. Give them a task, even an easy one, and let them complete it on their own. This simple gesture will go a very long way. If your employees believe you will have their back, they will run through walls for you.
  • Magic tip # 2: Don’t Have All Of The Answers, Even If You Do.    Who do you trust? Typically, it’s someone who allows you to be you and who encourages you to continuously grow, learn — usually by making mistakes — and develop. So be inquisitive and ask lots and lots of questions rather than supplying answers, even — especially — when you know the answer.
  • Magic tip # 3: Show Them You Aren’t Afraid Of Failure.  Any mistake or struggle in performance will make the leader look bad, so every employee is seen as a threat. This drives selfish, bad behavior and creates an unsafe place for the team. Trust only happens in a fear-free environment. Every leader needs to work on their own fear issues so they can focus on building the team instead of their ego.
  • Magic tip # 4: Listen Effectively. Leaders establish trust by asking effective questions, then by actually listening to employees’ answers. Following up with action in a manner that supports employees’ ideas and concerns reinforces that you listened.
  • Magic tip # 5: Be Respectful. The simplest path to increased trust is respect. It’s respectful recognition of accomplishments and transparency around failure. It’s a connection between leaders and teams. It doesn’t cost anything — but each side needs to make time for it. Practicing daily respect habits like “listen and care, make eye contact, and acknowledge your flaws” will drive engagement, and ultimately performance.
  • Magic tip # 6: Lead With Integrity and empathy. You can demonstrate you are trustworthy as a leader by keeping your word with your employees.  Say what you’ll do, and then do what you say. Show them you are leading in alignment with the values of goodness, loyalty, faith, and fun.  Genuinely care about your employees. Give trust and ask for their trust in return. Be trustworthy and honorable, and communicate that you expect the same.

When people honor each other, there is a trust established that leads to synergy, interdependence, and deep respect. Both parties make decisions and choices based on what is right, what is best, what is valued most highly.

We need people in our lives with whom we can be as open as possible. To have real conversations with people may seem like such a simple, obvious suggestion, but it involves courage and risk.

The magic of TRUST

The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say ‘I.’   And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say ‘I.’ They don’t think ‘I.’ They think ‘we’; they think ‘team.’ They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but ‘we’ gets the credit.  This is what creates trust.

Try even one or two of these  Magic Tips.  Just a bit here and there, and you may be amazed at the miraculous transformation and evolution of not only your team…but of yourself too!


Jean Garboden, Director of Education  

About the author: Jean Garboden is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit healthcare organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living in Eugene, Oregon Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada

How do we stay ‘true to ourselves’ as Leaders? Fred Rogers gives us insight

Many of us wake up each morning and jump into our  ‘work role.’  We think, “How can I be the best Leader today? ” Then, we try to fit what we think that label means.

  • We hide our quirks.
  • We undo our uniqueness.
  • We aim to fit in.
  • We try to look, talk, and act perfectly.

But what if there was another way? What if we could radically embrace who we truly are  — the whole and capable, vulnerable, and ‘real’ person we’ve been since our childhood?

Fred Rogers, one of the biggest proponents of this message, asked us to do just that.

If you grew up watching Mister Rogers, you might still be able to picture him: walking in the door. Singing a little song. Asking, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

When his show debuted in the ’60s, the program and, well, Mister Rogers himself didn’t fit the mold of successful TV. He was an older, kind man, chatting with his neighborhood pals, putting on a sweater or tying up his shoes, and, yes, sometimes having a heart-to-heart with a puppet.

He did his own thing—and that was the whole mission and message of his show: You can be liked and loved, just as you are. For the way you look, the way you talk, the way you love, and everything in between.


“You’ve made this day a special day, just by being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you, and I like you—just the way you are.”
– Mister Rogers

Now, more than ever, Mister Rogers’ mission is easier said (or, in his style, sung) than done.

How do we love ourselves fully when we’re constantly bombarded with ideas on how we should look, talk, work, and lead?   How can we radically be ourselves?

The new documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (in theaters on Friday, June 8), goes deep into the vision of Fred Rogers—and it offers insight into how he stayed true to himself.

Here, a few tips straight from the most authentic man on TV:

  • You are unique – embrace your quirks!   Think about what makes you different from other leaders or co-workers. Your difference is your hidden strength.
  • Be REAL. Be vulnerable. I used to worry about sounding too earnest, too vulnerable, or too honest in the things I wrote and shared. I’d think, “Who really wants to listen to this, anyway?”   But, surprisingly, I’ve learned that whenever I share the things that feel honest and true to me, the more positively people react. Vulnerability attracts vulnerability.  If you start to care less about what other people think, you’ll find that the people you care about will stick around for the long term.
  • Don’t strive for perfection – but for authenticity. You can choose to be perfect. Or, you can choose to be authentic. It’s very hard to be both. As he famously said: “You don’t ever have to do anything sensational for people to love you.” All you have to do is be yourself.
  • Relationships with our teams and co-workers are important.  Fred Rogers said, “Mutually caring relationships require kindness and patience, tolerance, optimism, joy in the other’s achievements, confidence in oneself, and the ability to give without undue thought of gain.”
  • A little kindness can make a difference.  Do you lead with kindness and empathy?  Those are not weak approaches to leadership.  In our world today, we need a little more kindness and love in the workplace.  In the Senior Housing industry, our care teams and our families and residents need to know they are safe and cared for.  These are courageous and powerful leadership characteristics.
  • Be Yourself. Be Good.  Do Good.

“There are three ways to ultimate success. The first is to be kind.  The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind.”
– Mister Rogers

Mr. Rogers challenges us to continually evolve to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be – our true authentic selves.

Below is a 2.5-minute trailer for the documentary that will come out in the United States on Friday, June 8th.  I am looking for a theater near me today.   I am grateful for the lessons and the life of Mr. Fred Rogers.

 


About the author: Jean Garboden is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit healthcare organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living in Eugene, Oregon. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada.

New Medicare ID card FREE – arriving soon in the mail. + SCAM ALERT!

In April Medicare began to mail new ID cards to its 60 million members.  It is expected to be a year-long project.  To learn more about when your card will arrive, go to medicare.gov/NewCard 

FRAUD ALERT! – The cards are FREE.  If someone calls you or calls someone you know who is on Medicare asking to verify your SSN as a prerequisite to getting a new card – HANG UP!  Fraudsters are calling Medicare Beneficiaries, demanding payment for the cards.

AARP did a survey and found that 60 percent of those surveyed mistakenly believe they might have to pay for the revamped cards.

Will not have your SSN – a new number for Fraud protection

The new cards are free. And more than half of respondents to the survey said they might not be suspicious if they received a call — supposedly from Medicare — asking them to verify their SSNs as a prerequisite to getting a new card. Medicare officials have emphasized that they will never call beneficiaries about the cards, which are being mailed out by the Social Security Administration.

The new Medicare card displays a unique combination of letters and numbers instead of your Social Security Number.  The new cards are a step forward for fraud prevention, but con artists are trying to scam seniors.

Scammers posing as Medicare representatives are already calling those who have Medicare currently demanding a processing fee for the new card.  Other fraudsters are telling beneficiaries that they are owed a refund on their old card, and asking for bank account information to process the reimbursement to their account.

Medicare will NEVER ask an enrollee for a bank account number, and no refunds are owed.

Check out AARP’s Fraud Watch Network for more prevention tips and advice on many types of scams.   Watch the 50 second video below to hear the message from AARP. about the Medicare Card Scams.



Jean Garboden, Director of Education & Innovation at Compass Senior Living

About the author: Jean Garboden is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit healthcare organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living in Eugene, Oregon. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Courageous Leaders Care (good leaders make you feel safe)

“Leaders are the ones who run headfirst into the unknown. They rush toward the danger. They put their own interests aside to protect us or to pull us into the future. Leaders would sooner sacrifice what is theirs to save what is ours. And they would never sacrifice what is ours to save what is theirs.

This is what it means to be a leader.

It means they choose to go first into danger, headfirst toward the unknown. And when we feel sure they will keep us safe, we will march beside them and work tirelessly to see their visions come to life and proudly call ourselves their followers.”  Simon Sinek, Leaders Eat Last

In the Senior Housing industry, I have had the honor to work with several exceptional leaders who inspire the greatest respect, the highest loyalty and have the ability to weather any storm or challenge with calm and grace. To these leaders, it is clear: when it matters most, and they are willing to ‘eat last,’ they are rewarded with deeply loyal employees, residents, and family members who will stop at nothing to advance their vision and their organization’s interests.  It is amazing how this works.  This is the reason they are willing to push hard and take risks as brave, courageous leaders.

The Circle of Safety that these courageous leaders create is rooted in trust. Simon Sinek explains: ”Only when we feel we are in a Circle of Safety will we pull together as a unified team, better able to survive and thrive regardless of the conditions outside.”

Over the past 15 years, I have witnessed Senior Housing Leaders who have been faced with difficult challenges with employees, families, operational failures, census, fiscal viability, and more.  I have seen two types of leaders emerge from difficult situations.

  • The first type took all of the responsibility upon themselves, and as the leader set out to ‘fix’ things and to assure consequences if things were not fixed. They blamed the lack of good workers, the poor work ethic, the state regulators, and the complexity of long-term care. As time went on –  frustration, fear, burnout, and ultimate failure.  Good people.  Good intentions.  But no leader can do this alone. We need one another.
  • The second type has a humble spirit, deep empathy and respect for employees;  recognizing that courage is a prerequisite for truly great leadership. At the heart of it lays a willingness to trust and be trusted; to take action amid the uncertainty; to do what is right and proper and good over what is expedient, and to risk failure in the process. Unless leaders are willing to lay their psychological safety (i.e. pride and power) on the line for the sake of those they serve, no amount of brilliance or showmanship will suffice.

Simon Sinek says ‘Good Leaders make you feel safe.” 

When we are ‘just working because we have to work’ and feel like things are falling apart – we need strong leaders to show true courage.

  • The kind of courage that discerns real from imaginary drama,
  • The kind that inspires people to rally together toward a noble cause, and acknowledge what’s not working.
  • The kind that doesn’t rely on fear to motivate action.
  • The kind that emboldens fresh thinking and draws on the full breadth of talent and know-how of the team.

Below are the characteristics I have been honored to witness in courageous Senior Housing Leaders:

  • Courageous leaders personal characteristics of humility and capacity for great empathy.  Great leaders focus on the good of those in their care, which leads to stable, flexible, confident teams, where everyone feels they belong, and all energies are devoted to supporting one another.
  • Courageous leaders are bold visionaries.  While they may have to manage in the realm of probabilities – they lead from the space of possibilities.
  • Courageous Leaders seek out Dissenters.  They don’t surround themselves with ‘yes men’ (or women) who will confirm their thinking and stroke their ego.  Rather they seek out people whose opinions and mindsets will challenge and broaden their own. They actively listen and create the psychological safety needed for those with less power to disagree with them and speak candidly.
  • Courageous Leaders don’t shy from difficult conversations.  They are fully aware that the conversations that DON’T occur are those which can exact the steepest toll on outcomes.
  • Courageous leaders make bold calls.  They know that waiting until they have absolute certainty that they can avoid all risks can sometimes require waiting too long.  They do their homework, do investigations, and then make the best judgment call they can.  AND when they make a ‘miss-step,’ they own it fast and adjust course quickly.
  • Courageous leaders entrust others. As research has found, people generally rise to the level of expectation placed on them.  Treat them as untrustworthy and needing constant oversight and that’s what you’ll get.  Treat them as capable people with the ability to learn and excel, and that’s what you’ll also get.   Expect a lot, and you’ll get it.  Expect little and you will get that too.
  • Courageous leaders embolden others. When leaders focus on the consequences of failure, it creates fear.   Brave leaders actively work to create a culture of courage where people are encouraged to speak up, challenge old thinking, experiment with new ideas, risk mistakes, prioritize growth and contribution.   And then…when things don’t go as planned…they celebrate the shared learning so the team can ‘fail forward’ together.

I believe that everyone has the ability to be a courageous leader.  There is no shortcut to building the courage needed to be an inspiring and influential leader.   I witnessed the leaders I worked with grow into courageous leaders bit-by-bit, starting with the next decision they had to face as they rallied their teams around them.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to see the growth and power of each of them – guided clearly by goodness, loyalty, faith, and fun.


If you have 15 minutes to watch a Ted Talk by Simon Sinek entitled “Why Good Leaders make you feel safe”, below is the link.

 

 


Jean Garboden, Director of Education & Innovation at Compass Senior Living

About the author: Jean Garboden is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit healthcare organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living in Eugene, Oregon. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada

 

 

 

 

MEMORIAL DAY 2018 – Honoring our fallen Heroes

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words, but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy

THE POPPY, A SYMBOL OF MEMORIAL DAY

The wearing of poppies in honor of America’s war dead is traditionally done on Memorial Day. The origin of the red poppy as a modern-day symbol of this day was actually the idea of an American woman, Miss Moina Michael.

In war-torn battlefields, the red field poppy was one of the first plants to grow. It’s seeds scattered in the wind and sat dormant in the ground, only germinating when the ground is disturbed—as it was by the very brutal fighting during World War 1.

Today, poppies are both the symbol of the loss of life and a symbol of recovery and new life, especially in support of those servicemen who were damaged physically or emotionally.

THE HISTORY OF MEMORIAL DAY

The custom of honoring ancestors by cleaning cemeteries and decorating graves is an ancient and worldwide tradition.

In early rural America, this duty was usually performed in late summer and was an occasion for family reunions and picnics.

After the Civil War, America’s need for a secular, patriotic ceremony to honor its military dead became prominent, as monuments to fallen soldiers were erected and dedicated, and ceremonies centering on the decoration of soldiers’ graves were held in towns and cities throughout the nation.

After World War I, the day expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars.

When I was a little girl this was called “Decoration Day” by my grandparents.    By late summer our roses and hollyhocks were blooming.  The community got together and picked flowers from their yards and along the roadside, and we went to the graveyards to clean them up and put fresh flowers to honor our ancestors.  Afterwards, we would gather for a picnic or a potluck and celebrate the legacy of those gone by telling stories, and singing songs.

In 1971, Memorial Day became a national holiday by an act of Congress; it is now celebrated on the last Monday in May.  Memorial Day remains one of America’s most cherished patriotic observances. The spirit of this day has not changed – it remains a day to honor those who died defending our freedom and democracy.

May we never forget freedom isn’t free.

USA Memorial Day concept.
USA Memorial Day with dog tags and red remembrance poppy on American stars and stripes

jean-garboden
Jean Garboden, Director of Education & Innovation at Compass Senior Living

About the author:Jean Garboden is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit healthcare organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living in Eugene, Oregon. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada