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CW 56: Jerald Cosey

Senior healthcare operational leader Jerald Cosey, HFA, takes you on a journey to discover the power of stepping out of your comfort zone.  Every new goal creates a unique opportunity to mentally stretch, grow and develop as a senior living professional.


Welcome to Bridge The Gap Contributor Wednesday. I am Jerald Cosey, AKA J Cosey, your senior healthcare empowerment speaker. I can’t believe this is my sixth episode this year. If you are a first time listener, thank you for joining us. Josh, Lucas, and the Bridge The Gap podcast team have put together a terrific lineup of contributors contributing content every week, every Wednesday, specifically developed to serve the senior healthcare industry and designed to speak the language you understand. Every third Wednesday, I am charged to honor and inspire from an operational leaders perspective. I ask you to share, like, and invite other senior healthcare professionals to join the Bridge The Gap nation. Let’s get this episode going today. I want to talk to you about the value of a good, healthy stretch. Now, although healthy, I’m not talking about a physical stretch. One may initiate before taking a run or lifting weights or any type of physical exercise.


Now, due to my enjoyment for the consumption of a good meal, I personally need to run and exercise and have a good, healthy stretch. That should be part of my life. But today I want to talk to you about the mental stretch. Specifically, the mental stretch that is required when taking on a new goal, a new challenge, or a new position. Before I get started, let me share this. Sometimes I receive questions from you, our listeners, a common one is J, how do you determine your topic every month? Well, you know, the answer to that question is easy. I take whatever is happening in my life and I ask myself, how can people within my sphere of influence benefit from the sharing of this experience? If the happening in my life is painful, then maybe the sharing will give it purpose.


If the happening in my life is eye-opening, then maybe the sharing will serve as an example to others. We all have a story that when shared with others has the potential to engage, to impact, and to change lives. As I record this episode, I am personally being stretched mentally. For that reason, I must share what caused the stretch. More importantly, what am I learning from the stretch? And maybe, just maybe, it’ll connect with you, our listener, and it may even provide purpose or benefit someone else. Okay, let me get back to this week’s message. The mental stretch that I’m talking about is the one required when taking on a new goal, a new challenge, or a new position. A few weeks ago, I made the transition from leading a skilled nursing community to becoming the director of leadership development for my employer, American Senior Communities based out of Indiana. After spending almost eight years, operating two skilled nursing communities,


Shout out to my people from Bethany village and Greenwood Meadows. Now, again, this episode isn’t about this new position. This episode is to share what I’m experiencing through this new position. It’s amazing how attached one becomes to your role, your discipline in the senior living profession. You live and breathe your area of focus, and it goes beyond a traditional 40 hour work week. It requires emotional energy, sacrifice, and dedication. Whether you are culinary, activities, social services, nursing, direct care CNAs, business, office, rehabilitation, marketing, admissions. Whether you are independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, home health, or hospice, you are committed to the positions in which you serve each and every day. Whether you are at the community level or at the home office in a support role. Whether you are a C suite or resident room suite, you are fully engaged and you are committing to do what you do each and every day.


Imagine your career as a long developmental train track. Along that track, you are building upon sets, skill sets that move you along from one developmental station to another. As you visualize with me, please know, developmental stations are not defined by a new role or a new title. Your role today, it is a station, but your competency is a station. Your confidence is a developmental station. Your ability to handle a complicated situation is a part of a developmental station. A few weeks ago, I launched into a new developmental journey leaving out of a develop mental station. For you parents out there, especially if you have more than one child, you may relate to this example of the birth of my first child, Ryan, was the beginning of a new journey for my wife and I. A new track if you will, a journey that would send my wife and I to the pediatrician for the smallest little concern.


Well, with the birth of my second child Sydney, we were no longer at the new parent station. We had developed as parents. Every little thing did not send us into a panic. The pediatrician was no longer needed so very often. That advancement from new parent to senior parent, it required a good mental stretch. What’s even more interesting, the development you experience as you are advancing along this track is generated by the mental stretch you are experiencing. You organically develop simply by engaging and jumping on the new track. The position you are in professionally is the result of a journey. The position you are in personally is the result of a journey. All journeys have a starting point. At your current station, did your journey start out with the confidence you possess right now? No. What was your previous station? I would think station number one was a high excitement, very low confidence, but you grow, you develop, you stretch. 


Station number two begins high excitement, strong confidence. That confidence didn’t come overnight. It didn’t magically happen. It is a result of being developed. It is a result of taking on a new challenge. For my operational and clinical leaders out there, as a matter of fact, for all senior living professionals, your position, requires a high level of emotional engagement with others. You learn to depend on systems. The role you play is a big part of your life. It’s part of your routine. Several weeks ago, my traditional routine changed. I was being stretched and it’s happening right before my eyes. As a senior healthcare leader, speaker, one with a small amount of influence, why did this throw me off so much? See, I have watched many leaders grow and blossom to take on consultant roles or take on additional opportunities at a sister community. And then in all honesty, I congratulate, I show them support.


But as an operational leader, I began the refilling process needed to secure another leader for the soon to be vacated position. Are your thoughts like mine? Do we ever think about the new stretch of the teammate who left our community or left being by my side and moved into a new position? Have we ever really thought about the new stretch they are about to experience? I’ll be the first to say I have not. It takes a great deal of courage to take on a new opportunity. It takes a great deal of courage to take on a new goal. See I’m not talking about new jobs or promotions. I’m talking about the developmental track that we initiate each time we challenge ourselves with a new goal, with a new opportunity. None of us start out in our current leadership roles. We all know how it feels to set a goal and put a plan in place to achieve that goal.


Think about your first day in a community as a brand new leader. Think about your first day as a director of nursing, as a nurse that has navigated the senior health care industry. And now on day one, you’re leading a community. Imagine your first day becoming a consultant and going out into the field and trying to find ways to help leaders grow and develop under your specific discipline. Under your specific expertise. Allow that CEO that has gone through a career and it’s finally made it to the number one position. In all of these examples, the brand new leader is experiencing the fun, the excitement, and the healthy anxiety and eagerness to lead onto another level. This monthly podcast, believe it or not is the result of a mental stretch. Joining the Bridge The Gap nation was a stretch. The senior living industry is a community of people of professionals who have developed and learned the importance of root causes, the importance of quality measures, and the effort needed to advance the development of new skill sets.


I know for my employer being the largest senior living company in the state of Indiana, it’s not the size of the company that makes us great. It’s the people. And guess what? The organization in which you work for, it’s not the size of your organization that gives you your strength, it’s the people, senior healthcare professionals, senior healthcare board members, individuals who are leading senior health care organizations, leading age affiliates, American healthcare association affiliates. If you have any impact whatsoever as an organization within the senior living space, home health and hospice organizations, the power of your organization is determined by the development of the people within these organizations. The biggest strength of our industry, the senior living industry, is the caliber of people working alongside you each and every day. It’s ironic how the journey of our senior living space started with providing care for others.


We care for people and we depend on people to care for people. The level of emotional or soulful effort is tremendous. It’s required of us daily. Be honest, look at how we develop as an industry. No, no. Look at how you have developed as a professional through this pandemic. You left a developmental station the moment COVID entered our world. Now that had nothing to do with a change in your title or your position. It had everything to do with the stretch that organically occurred. The stretch needed to advance along the track of development. As a matter of fact, our state board of health professionals, surveyors, as we call them in the industry, or the CDC, the folks who regulate senior health care and contribute to the focus and development of policies and procedures. You two have stretched through this pandemic.


We are all better professionals as a result of the stretch that occurred in such a tough time. If you’ve been in the audience or have listened to me in the past, you know I often talk about the pucker factor. That moment of intensity when emotionally your body just freezes up, it can be triggered by an elopement. It can be triggered by something that really causes you a great deal of stress. As I always liked to say the industry benefits from the seasoning that comes from that pucker factor moment, the seasoning that comes when we make the decision to leave a developmental station and begin a quest towards the next opportunity to develop. But the key is the industry can’t lose you, the leader, the professional, to the pucker factor moment. The developmental opportunity. You grow, you develop, when you are stretched.


We are all better professionals as a result of the stretch, the journey that we initiate each and every day. As I personally grow and develop in my new role, I want to share real-time my development. How can I focus in on being an operational leader who’s focused on developing other leaders, if I’m unwilling to share with full transparency, my development? So with that, let’s share some practical steps to utilize as you take on a new journey or transition from one developmental station to the other. I don’t have many, just a few. Number one, make time daily to journal. This will allow the space to process your new experiences. Your new emotions. See a time will come when you must reference the journey. It never fails. Recognizing the process allows one to share or recycle the experience for a future journey. Number two, find a mentor.


Someone who has navigated the journey you are on. When I started my journey as a speaker and transitioned my hobby to a profession, I sought out mentors, people who did what I wanted to do and did it well. Folks that had already been on the train and transitioned from one developmental station to another. The key is doing what your mentors tell you to do. Shout out to Walter and Anton Antoinette and Cara. I really appreciate your generosity and your contribution to my development. But guess what? In this new role as we advance, we must continue to find a mentor. So Arc, if you’re out there listening today, thank you so much. I’m already beginning to learn from you, sir. I only share this personal information with you, my listener to say, Hey, I’m practicing what I’m sharing with you. It’s critically important to find mentors as you jump on a new track and begin a new journey. 


Number three, my last one, share your journey with someone else, identify a benefactor. Someone who can make progress in their journey as a result of your stretch. Whatever your goal, whatever your stretch, I tell you, when you look for ways to benefit others, when it becomes to be about more than just you, it’s always blessed. We are part of a robust industry full of people taking on new journeys daily, your experiences will always benefit others. If you’re intentional about identifying those who can benefit from your experience. To be quite frank, I’m hoping that that means sharing this message today will benefit at least one listener out there as you began upon your new journey. My challenge this week, recognize when you are being stretched. Maybe it’s your focus on census. Maybe it’s that challenge of finding normalcy again and embracing the opening of our communities. Maybe the stretch involves a personal developmental goal, a goal that only you know. What I have learned in the past several weeks, it’s healthy to stretch outside of your comfort zone. Thanks for listening to this week’s Bridge The Gap Contributor Wednesday, please connect with me


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CW 56: Jerald Cosey