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CW 39: Jerald Cosey

Senior healthcare operational leader Jerald Cosey shares how to discover “the why” behind your calling to a career in the senior healthcare industry. An industry that demands excellence and requires a great deal of emotional fuel.

Welcome to Contributor Wednesday on Bridge The Gap network. In this series, you’ll hear from thought leaders on a variety of topics, dedicated to inform, educate, and influence the senior living industry.

Welcome to Bridge The Gap Contributor Wednesday. I am Jerald Cosey, AKA J Cosey, your senior healthcare empowerment speaker. Thank you for joining us today. If you are a first time listener, welcome. Josh, Lucas and the Bridge The Gap podcast team have put together a terrific lineup of contributors, creating content every week. Every Wednesday, specifically developed to serve the healthcare industry. More specifically, the senior healthcare industry designed to speak the language that you understand. Every third Wednesday, I’m charged to honor and inspire from my operational leaders perspective. I ask you to share, like, and invite other senior healthcare professionals to join us, the Bridge The Gap nation. Today, we are going to discuss the importance of knowing your why. Why do you choose the senior living industry as a career? We all know 2020 was a tough year. It was no joke. Worldwide pandemic, political division, social injustice movement sparked by tragedy, wildfires out West and our coastal States plummeted by hurricanes and floods. Time and time again, one thing after another.

As service professionals, situations in our world often affect us personally, in our homes, in the communities in which we live. But they also affect us professionally, in our senior healthcare communities. We serve people and as operational, clinical, and senior healthcare professionals, a great deal of emotional fuel was extended this past year. But we are senior healthcare professionals made up of senior living warriors. We do not run from tough times, tough times galvanize us. They galvanize us as one senior healthcare. But with that being said, why did you choose such an honorable profession? We started 2021 with so much hope. With the vaccination, we see a small pinhole of light at the end of the tunnel. But this year, if we’re being honest with ourselves is going to require so much more from us than last year. COVID 19 is still very much real. Systems and practices designed to drive quality have compounded. Our residents, our communities, long for some level of normalcy. Re engagement is so very critical now.

So now on top of everything else, we must restore the business of senior living. Have you ever heard of the phrase, “no margin, no mission.” It’s impossible to deliver quality care as a mission without the margin needed to pay for it. We don’t operate within community staff by volunteers. The financial margin supports the elder care mission. I ask you, why did you choose a profession that requires such a high level of accountability? The Bible says, “to whom much is given much will be required.” We have the responsibility to serve the elder community with that so much more is expected and required from us as leaders. At times, we may ask ourselves how much more can I give? And my role as the executive director of a community designed to serve 166 elders and you, my listener and your specific and unique role, how much longer can one exhaust the emotional fuel needed to lead? To innovate? Needed to contribute, to compete. At the time of this recording, Superbowl 55 is just a week away.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs, two teams ready to compete at the highest level. Both teams led by future hall of fame quarterbacks. The quarterback, a leadership position, requires the ability to think critically. Having a willingness to stay in the pocket as the play unfolds as needed. As operational and clinical leaders, as senior healthcare industry professionals, we know the pounding that comes from staying in the pocket. Being on call 24 hours a day. Staffing shortages. Ever changing regulatory guidelines without the revenue resources to support it. For the average individual, with the best of intentions, the pounding can wear you out. But what happens to the industry? What happens to the industry if we decide to pull ourselves out of the game? Every day, 10,000 people turn 65 years old. If we pull ourselves out of the game, then who will provide for our revered elders? Who will provide for us when the time arises? For that reason, it’s imperative that we know our, why. What is the purpose behind the calling of the play?

What is the purpose behind the calling of the career? What if Patrick Mahomes or Tom Brady decided not to pick up the ball as a kid? You know, Brady didn’t return this season simply for a contract. Yeah, the money’s nice. It’s great to earn for his family, but that doesn’t compare to his why. His why is special, and it goes far beyond the financial position within the career space. The why folks, the why is the motivation behind the innovation. The why is the growth. It encourages a sticktoitness. It’s the fuel needed to stay within the pocket. The fuel needed to stay within the profession. The why sparks a desire, a yearning, if you will, to stay in the gym and develop as a leader. The why allows one to stay in the game, taking hit after hit. The why provides the courage needed to overcome challenges.

It’s unique. It’s powerful. It’s yours. Allow me to share with you my own unique why. Now I warn you, it’s a little graphic. A five-year period of my life was pure turmoil. As I battled a gut disorder called ulcerative colitis Crohn’s disease. The disease did its best to destroy me. To keep it simple, it’s a disease associated with extreme diarrhea. When I’m out speaking within the healthcare industry, I share my story to demonstrate the power of quality care and the potential it has to empower and change lies. Can you imagine going to the restroom 40 times in a day with extreme diarrhea? Can you imagine plotting out restroom breaks whenever traveling from point a to point B? Can you imagine going to the restroom on the hour, every hour throughout the night? You talk about taking hits in the pocket, this disease wreaked havoc. After four years of medical treatment, the decision was made to take the surgical approach.

The night before surgery, I’m in my room at the hospital, my nurse checked on me and in an instant, out of nowhere, I had an urgent need for a toilet. Calling all cars, calling all cars. Urgent need for a toilet. Before I could make it to the restroom, and in front of my nurse, I pooped on myself. A grown man. I was embarrassed, ashamed. My worst case scenario occurred in real time in front of a stranger. My nurse, she observed this humiliation I felt. She walked over and said, “Mr Cosey, you are a sick patient. There is no need for embarrassment. I am here to care for you.” Instantly the shame and the embarrassment, it disappeared. That night, as I lay in the bed, I made the decision to leave pharmaceutical sales leadership, to take my five years of volunteering in a nursing home and make it a career.

To serve human beings the way I was served by a healthcare professional in my life. After three surgeries, 30 plus hours of recovery, the decision became reality. So when my audience asks me, Jerald, what is your why? I said, sum it up with eight words to serve mankind and to earn for my family. By the time this six month rotation is over as a Bridge The Gap contributor, you will know all of my business. Can you imagine how my children feel with a father that is so willing to share his personal business? Transparency is real. And if it helps, you know, how quality care, the same quality care you provide our residents, how that care had an impact on my life. Like your care has an impact on the people in which we serve. Then you know what, it’s worth telling the world that J Cosey pooped on himself.

It gives purpose to my pain when I share this message. The white flag has been around from as far back as AD 25. You know, the flag that we see waived on the battlefield. Contrary to what folks may believe, the raising of the flag is not a cowardly act. The flag simply alerts your opponent. I have no other means to resist. I am conceding my position to you. In episode one, I shared with you what’s known as the pucker factor. Now you, you may not know my term, the pucker factor, but I guarantee you, you know the feeling. Does this sound familiar, that immediate feeling you have when you answer your call in the middle of the night and you just can’t believe what you’re hearing. Maybe it’s an elopement. Maybe it’s some type of urgent need, but you know, the feeling I’m describing. Or maybe it’s the feeling you experience when something within your area of responsibility occurs, that makes you say, “really, are we serious?”

It’s the oh crap moment. The pucker factor can be that moment that causes you to raise the white flag and to question one’s calling to serve. To feel as though you have no other means to resist. As an empowerment speaker advocating within the industry, I believe the industry as a whole benefits from the seasoning that comes from white flag moments. We just can’t lose the leader to the white flag. Think of the seasoning which has occurred during the year of 2020. The industry can’t afford to lose you. You’ve learned, you’ve developed. You’re a better professional. Before we conclude, I’m going to calm down because you know, we’re not going to end this episode without a call to action. Today, make time. Write it down. What is your why? You may need it this afternoon… You know, our industry, white flag moments can swoop up on you before you know it.

If you need some help capturing your why reach out to me at and I’ll send you a PDF designed to help you capture your calling. Your why. But let’s be perfectly clear, it’s not rocket science. Your why is embedded deep within your core, your organization. The why of your organization is embedded within its mission and vision statements. White flag moments are real. Your why is always the last possible means to resist. Thank you. Thank you for choosing to stay in the senior healthcare industry. You have chosen an honorable profession. We need you. We need you whole. We need your unique contribution to the industry that we love. Think of the seasoning you have earned this past year. Think of the responsibilities that are ahead of you. This year we will have moments when we must clearly understand our why, and allow it to propel us through and continue to advance senior healthcare forward. Thanks for listening to this week’s Bridge The Gap Contributor Wednesday, please connect with me. I want to hear from you at

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CW 39: Jerald Cosey