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CW 74: Jerald Cosey

The past two years have pushed senior living professionals like never before. This month, senior healthcare operational leader Jerald Cosey, HFA, discusses the importance of goal setting, mental toughness, and the need to carry on.

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 this is your first time listening let me tell you, Josh and Lucas and the Bridge the Gap podcast team have put together a terrific lineup of contributors. Contributing and creating content every week, every Wednesday, specifically developed to serve the senior living industry. Designed to speak a language you understand. Every third Wednesday I’m charged to honor and inspire, Lord knows I try and do my best, from an operational leaders perspective, I ask you to share like, and invite other senior healthcare professionals to join the Bridge the Gap nation. I try and wait every month to really get a feel for the experiences of the senior living professionals in real time. As I think about this episode, I can’t help, but shake the thought of the state of the industry today as an operational and clinical leader, as a senior living professional, it requires a great deal.

 

Many of my peers seem to be overwhelmed, and not overwhelmed where it’s of a lack of ability, but overwhelmed because of the magnitude, the ongoingness, if you will. It’s always something when it comes to being part of a career space where serving people is the primary focus. That’s on my mind this month as I share an episode, once again, talking about mindset. And specifically about the mindset of world-class athletes. I’ve mentioned to you in the past that I’m in awe of the mindset of world-class athletes. The physical component of their greatness is most obvious to the audience looking on, whether sitting in the most expensive seats court side, or in a stadium, or watching from your home in the community at a local sports bar. You can’t deny the optics. The visual confirmation of excellence. The confirmation secured by the result as we see achieved with our own two eyes. With sports, you either get it done or you don’t. There’s no team or athlete on paper entitled to greatness.

 

We’re looking at the Lakers now for the basketball fans, and people wondering did bring enough talent together in order to achieve a championship? Well, there’s nothing guaranteed about earning a championship because of what’s on paper. The game, the match, must be earned almost is simply not good enough and brings no satisfaction. I’m sure it hurts more to lose the Super Bowl, the Stanley cup finals, the NBA World Championship finals. I’m convinced that that pain is compounded by coming up just short of the goal. It must hurt more than those teams that didn’t make the playoffs in the first place, or the teams that didn’t make it to the championship game. See, in athletics, we have to compete at a high level, and we’re always looking to achieve the pinnacle of every sport. We don’t get into senior healthcare or senior living to just be average.

 

We get in because we care about people. We love our revered elders. We’re ready for the challenge because our ‘why,’ our calling to this industry prepares us. I look at athletes and I wonder are they motivated by the money? I’m sure money is nice. Believe me. I’m all about earning well. But I’m pretty doggone confident the desire to do well is not money-driven. The desire to do well is based upon the athletes’ willingness or need to compete at the highest level in order to validate all of the preparation they’ve done throughout their life to get them to this point.

 

What we don’t see is the mental effort that it takes to become a champion. As a senior living professional, we’re serving in a high stakes space that requires excellence in so many ways across all aspects of your job. Leading in our space is far different today than it was 10 years ago. If you haven’t played a role through the pandemic, it may be a little hard to relate. The staffing, the infection control. the census, the community. What is universal though, is whether in this space now or 10 years ago, the magnitude of caring for others is still a space required 24 hours, seven days a week, commitment and responsibility. My point? We serve in a world-class space. Every single day, brand new challenges of some sort presents in your life. See, the audience includes the residents we serve, the staff we lead, the families that entrust us, and the organizations that have hired our services.

 

There is nothing like caring for people. Our career choice is also a career duty. So you understand why I relate to world-class athletes. It’s not the physical results. It’s the mental, the mental edge that made the results possible. It’s the drive for excellence. It’s that drive for excellence that I believe I’m really aligned so well with the senior living space, with the senior living professional, within a career choice, that is also a career duty. So with that, let’s look at three athletes this month, three athletes that I have admired from afar. For the past few years, we’ve seen this Jamaican sprinter by the name of Usain Bolt. Arguably one of the greatest sprinters of all time. He has achieved greatness in both world championships and in the Olympic games. He has a quote that continually resonates in my mind and drives me for greatness.

 

And that is, he says, “dreams are free, but goals have a cost.” While you can daydream for free, goals don’t come without a price. They require time, effort, sacrifices, and sweat. As a kid, you grow up dreaming about things you want to do in this world. As you become an adult, you begin to identify dreams, things that you want to occur within your life. Dreams have a value. They open up your mind to something that you currently don’t have. It opens your mind to something to shoot for. But his quote means so much because he’s saying dreams are free, but to take that dream to a reality, you must have goals. And those goals require blood. They require sweat and tears. They require effort. So it’s great to dream of next steps, if you will, for your life personally. For your life professionally. My challenge to you, my challenge today requires what goals have we put in place in order to make sure that we give ourselves a chance to achieve the goals we have for ourselves professionally and personally. For those out there that may not know my story,

 

most of my career has been in pharmaceutical sales. Volunteered in a nursing home for about five years. Started off visiting two guys, and ended up one of them passed within the first year of visiting. But the other resident, Mr. David, he and I established a friendship over a five-year period. It was during that time that I decided I wanted to become an administrator. So I left an 18 year pharmaceutical career with the goal of becoming an administrator. Now, in order to achieve that goal, I had to go through an AIT process. I had to learn the things that you just don’t know as a volunteer. What I’m trying to tell you is, I don’t know if it was necessarily a dream to become an administrator, but you know as well as I do for those operational leaders out there, it took establishing goals.

 

It took putting forth the effort to achieve those goals. For those clinical leaders out there. There’s a time in your life where becoming a nurse may have been a dream of yours. But then when you establish goals, you are able to get into a nursing program. You were able to, to study hard to achieve your desired result and to advance healthcare as a nursing professional. What I want the audience to know today is that we’re going to continue to dream large. We’re going to continue to have big goals, but we must put forth the effort each and every time if we’re going to achieve greatness in a very demanding career space.  A real life example are monthly co-oping meetings. If you think about it, co-oping meetings can help you identify a goal. And you may have a dream of being this perfect community.

 

This community that’s five star. That has great outcomes. Residents are fair, and family members are really happy to be a part of your community. That’s a big dream that I’m certain most leaders have for the communities in which they serve. But you must have goals in order to achieve that. So maybe there are goals around having co-oping meetings on a consistent basis. There’s goals around identifying areas or weaknesses. Areas that can improve upon, and then establishing goals and benchmarks in order to achieve the desired outcome. So dreams and goals, they go alike. And at the end of the day, it’s very important that we always put a plan in place to achieve what we want to achieve. Another athlete that I really have grown to admire is Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Milwaukee Bucks were crowned NBA champions this year.

 

Their second championship in 50 years. And this young man, I tell you, if you’re a basketball fan, I’m sure you enjoy watching his determination, his grit, and his humility. It just really resonates. I’ve never liked the arrogant athlete. I’ve always been a rooter for the underdog, if you will. In today’s NBA, so many top athletes leave the smaller markets and take their talents to larger market teams. I grew up in the eighties as a Chicago Bulls fan. And it would break my heart if Michael Jordan would have left the Bulls before we achieved a championship. Now I know he went to Washington after the fact, but the majority of his career was spent with the Chicago Bulls. The Magic Johnsons. He goes with the Lakers. The Larry Bird. He goes with the Celtics. With Giannis, I’m glad that he turned down the big opportunity to go to a larger market team.

 

I’m glad he decided to stay within his space. Staffing in senior living is difficult. Some operational and clinical leaders have decided this space is no longer for them. What happens if we all leave this senior health living space, who will care for our revered elders? Giannis has said, and I quote, “to be one of the best players to play the game. I think I have the ability to do that, but I’ve got to work hard if I just keep talking and don’t put some work in, it’s not going to happen.” How can you not like the mindset of world-class athletes? You, my listener, you have the ability to stay in the senior living space. You have no choice, but to work hard daily. How are you caring for yourself? Are you still struggling with the impact the pandemic has had on your community? Are you in need of more quality family time to offset the times away spent at the community?

 

I asked because to be great in our industry requires overcoming so many challenges. As you process and work through challenges, you have grown as a leader. And all of these experiences that you have makes you more valuable. My concern is losing senior living professionals because of the seasons that we continue to go through. So not only do I want you to be one of the best professionals in our senior living space, but more importantly, I want you to remain in this senior living space. I believe you have the ability to do that. But I also know the mental component of it can wear one out.

 

So with that, what does it take to stay in this space? It’s going to take putting forth the effort to address the mental well-being of the leaders and the professionals in which we work side by side with. Athlete number three, Naomi Osaka. Wow. This young lady is so inspiring to me. I look up to her. Her heart, her soul, the way she communicates, the way she thinks through questions before answering them. Naomi was born in Japan to a Japanese mom and a Haitian dad. And she can really perform on the tennis court. Today. I have two quotes that I want to share. The first one she says, “in a perfect dream, things would be set exactly the way you would want them. But I think it’s more interesting that in real life things aren’t exactly the way you plan.” Think about our lives as senior living professionals.

 

I mean, we have this perfect dream of the way we would like things to happen, but what’s more interesting is in real life things aren’t always the way you plan. It leads me to her second quote. She says, quote, “you just got to keep going and fighting for everything. And one day you’ll get to where you want to go,” end quote. As we think about this episode and the purpose of me mentioning mindset and my admiration for world-class athletes and those that have killer mindsets. That sounds bad, but I think my listener knows what I mean.

 

I’m impressed by this. And I highlight this today because we need senior professionals to stay in this space. We need what Osaka says to just keep going and fighting for everything. And one day you’ll get to where you want to go. Ten thousand seniors turned 65 years of age every single day. And with that statistic, my challenge to you this week, set goals for yourself. See that’s the difference maker between dreams and actually achieving what we desire. Number two, take time for yourself mentally. I don’t know if that requires journaling. I don’t know if it requires speaking with the counselor. I don’t know if it requires just having a conversation with a coworker who’s part of the senior living space, because we need you mentally, mentally strong. And last but not least, my challenge is to continue pushing forward. You have developed a skillset that not many people have, and that skill set is compounded each and every day that you stay within this industry. We need you. You have chosen an honorable profession, and I thank you for choosing senior health care as a way for you to earn for your family by serving others. Thanks for listening to this week’s Bridge the Gap Contributor Wednesday. Please connect with me at btgvoice.com.

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CW 74: Jerald Cosey