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CW Ep. 35: Jerald Cosey

Jerald Cosey takes you on a journey to discover the power of the “penthouse perspective!” This perspective is designed to identify positive leader behaviors developed as a result of leading through tough times.

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. I’m so thankful to be part of the Bridge The Gap team this third season. I tell you as a senior healthcare skilled nursing community operator, as a student of leadership development, I can’t think of a better platform to infuse our senior healthcare industry, than this Bridge The Gap podcast platform. So please, let’s make it a point to reach out to our peers and our industry fellows, and let’s get them involved in listening to this podcast series. Today, we’re going to talk about perspective. We’re going to dig in deep and talk about the power that comes from the perspective of a senior healthcare professional. As a kid growing up in Chicago, you couldn’t tell me anything. I thought it was the best city in the world. I still love it.

I still love it. My perspective though, was from a Chicagoan. And so as a kid, I thought that Lake Michigan was an ocean. We could never see a cross to the other side. You couldn’t tell me it wasn’t an ocean. And then my mom and dad, they would take us on vacations because they wanted us to know that more existed than just the south side of Chicago. See, they wanted to broaden our perspective. I’ll never forget my first visit to New York City. The Big Apple. Allow me to use this trip to New York city as an illustration or backdrop, if you will, to the power of perspective. You traveled today, you finally arrive in New York City, LaGuardia airport. You grab your luggage and head on out and wave down a taxi. Taxi takes you to your hotel. You get checked in and get a good night’s rest.

You’re awakened the next morning, feeling alive. You grab a cup of coffee in the lobby and head out the door instantly. You are gaining a street level perspective, the smell of New York City, the sounds, jackhammers and construction crews make immediate repairs. Delivery trucks and that sh sound as, as their hydraulic systems release and come to a halt. You see cab drivers with this, look on their face, blowing their horn. As if to say, let’s move now. The situation is urgent and I’m ready to get out of the position in which I’m in to your left and your right. You see people representing every nationality across the globe, speaking languages and, and communicating with each other. The experience can be overwhelming during this pandemic, if you will, that’s our street-level view. The level of intensity we work within, the caliber of decisions we have to make, the emotional energy that is needed to lead and serve during

a worldwide pandemic as a senior healthcare professional, can be extremely noisy. It can be extremely overwhelming. You add to that street level noise, the noise that we feel as human beings during this year of 2020, in addition to the worldwide pandemic. We had the social injustice movement. Conversations and discussions that are real intense and personal. We had wildfires occurring on the West coast. We had floods again, impacting our coastal regions. The thing about senior health care is whatever’s impacting us in the world is also impacting us personally. But you take this street level noise and you add the noise of our world and I tell you what, the street level can be intense. If we were in church, you said, amen. In order to maximize the value of your vantage point, it behooves you to gain a different perspective. For our illustration,let’s call it a penthouse perspective. Moving on up to the high price vantage point. Instead of going down to the lobby, we’re going to reverse that direction and we’re going to ascend to the top. And with every floor ascended, your noise begins to lessen and lessen. You make it to the penthouse suite. Look around. It’s beautiful. Walk out on the terrace. You look down at the spot in which you just left on the first floor. Instantly, you realize the noise is not as loud from this vantage point. You see you’re far enough removed from your original position at the street level, which allows you to process the situation better. You’re able to look in multiple directions. You can see the streetscape differently. Now, before I go on with my next statement, let’s be perfectly clear. I truly understand the seriousness of this pandemic.

I understand the lives that have been lost. I understand the sacrifices that people have made. And I certainly understand the commitment that senior healthcare professionals have demonstrated during this time and in no way, shape or form, will I ever dishonor that. But trying to see this from a different vantage point, forces us to look for the developmental opportunities or nuggets, if you will, that are there and just waiting to be harvested and processed. I tell you, leadership development and the opportunities that present from the penthouse perspective, extraordinary! In the book, Swim, authored by a friend of mine, Walter Bond, he states, your organization is a training and development company camouflaged as whatever role you play within market industry. So as a senior healthcare administrator, I would say my senior living community is a training and development organization, camouflaged as a senior health care skilled nursing facility.

Well, with respect, I want to make that parallel over to this pandemic. And again, out of respect, this is only to identify the opportunities that have come from such a tragic situation. If we use this, this mindset, it would say “the COVID-19 pandemic is a training and development opportunity camouflaged as a worldwide pandemic.” That alone is the significance of why we must always search for the penthouse perspective in every single opportunity. When I’m out speaking to senior healthcare trade associations and organizations, I take a great deal of pride in capturing what I call white flag moments. Those moments, when you have to decide, do I have any other means to resist, or am I going to keep this thing moving forward? It’s always associated with the physical phenomenon, I’ll call the pucker factor. Let me explain. As senior healthcare professionals, we have a great deal of responsibility, a great deal of skin in the game.

The pucker factor can be that call in the middle of the night, sharing an elopement has occurred. The pucker factor may be the day you found out your community was COVID positive. Whatever your role, there are calls that you dread, that require you to respond in a succinct, intelligent, and responsible manner. The pucker factor can’t be taught in a classroom. It can’t be explained. It can only be experienced and the experience and the value, with the penthouse perspective around it, it compounds your ability to critically think. It compounds your ability to make critical decisions. It compounds your ability to process tough situations so that you can make the best decision possible. As an AIT, my preceptor said, “Gerald, you know, bad things happen. We’re caring for people.” The key though, what do you do when they happen? And how do you put plans in place to make sure that they don’t continue to happen?

A friend of mine and fellow executive director by the name of Jenna has been leading a community for about two years. Prior to her heading off to maternity leave, I shared with her how I’ve observed her leadership from afar, and we discussed the compounding effect of the experiences in which she has led through during this pandemic. Further on, I said, “Jenna, it’s my opinion, whatever your tenure multiply that by three.” See, this pandemic, this pucker factor moment, when we take the penthouse perspective, we pull out of it what’s positive. What’s positive folks. Whatever your role in this industry, you have grown. Whatever you’re responsible for, you’ve developed and you’ve gotten better at it. See, there’s nothing like an alarm at the gate and the effort that it takes in order to pull through it. The leadership development that comes from that, that’s that penthouse perspective. That’s what’s powerful.

That’s what we have gained from this pandemic. And we refuse to lose any leadership developmental opportunity that can possibly come from such a, such a deadly virus. I think about my friends that I’ve lost in my community and I refuse to let that go unnoticed. I refuse to not make myself a better leader in their honor. White flag moments are real. Now as a podcaster and a contributor to the Bridge The Gap Contributor Wednesday series, I tell you the excitement level that I feel right now is incredible. My job every third Wednesday is to honor and inspire you, the senior healthcare professional. Now let’s, let’s talk about this. I don’t have a secret sauce. There isn’t something that I already have in my mind that I know is going to hit a nerve.

And I know is going to rehydrate you if you will. But I know this for a fact, this last year has been horrific. I know as senior healthcare professionals within our industry, we need rehydration. So my job every third Wednesday is to address whatever is working in my life. As a senior healthcare professional, I call myself J Cosey the empowerment speaker, because my role is to help empower my peers. Now, let me tell you where this was birthed. March was a tough month for my community. I lead a community called Greenwood Meadows. It’s under the umbrella of American senior communities, in the state of Indiana. And we were one of the early communities to get targeted unfairly in my opinion, by the news stations. We had recently been awarded the ACA silver quality award. We were literally finished annual survey the same week, the state of Indiana had our first confirmed COVID positive case.

We exited that annual survey with two concerns, shout out to my team and all the leaders under the clinical directorship of Ms. Shirley Lindsay, our DNS and, and all of my, you know, healthcare professionals. I digress. Let me get to the point. Immediately after these accolades, that really focus in on quality areas that we can gauge, areas that we can take a good deal of pride in, we went from that to a worldwide pandemic. Oh, and, and we lost people that we loved. We lost human beings that we spent each and every day with on a regular basis. Okay. That, that that’s something that, that the average person really can’t understand. So as this attention, negative attention, continued to come to our community, we as an organization, took the high road.

So during this time I felt like I needed to express myself if nothing else, for my sanity, and so that my team can know that we are doing everything that we possibly can to provide the highest level of care during the most deadly time that we can ever remember in our own lifetimes. So I wrote a column and McKnight Senior Living, they published it. And the column was titled “Senior Health Care, The Forgotten Frontline.” Now, bear with me, there’s a reason why I’m telling you this story. So when this story was published, I began to receive a lot of phone calls, “thanks, Gerald for representing us.” You know, we needed to have our story and it became very clear. This story wasn’t mine. The story belonged to us as a senior healthcare industry. I just had the privilege of being able to put it on paper.

I just have the privilege to truly enjoy speaking as a professional within senior health care. So when you put my team, my organization, my industry through hard times, and I think it’s unfair, then we’re going to take the high road because that’s what we do with senior healthcare professionals, but we’re going to articulate it. So when people started thanking me, it made it very clear. My job as a speaker, my job as a podcaster, my job as a human being and a leader of people, is to empower and hydrate and rehydrate and inspire to the best of my ability by simply sharing a story that we all understand. And guess what? At the end of the day, I feel pretty doggone certain that between you, my listener and myself, that there’s enough overlap in the stories that we’re sharing, that you should end this podcast feeling good about what you do on a daily basis.

See, there’s nothing more honorable than placing the needs of someone else before your very own. Nothing. You have chosen an honorable profession. Think about it. We care for the matriarchs and patriarchs of society’s highest accoladed people. If that makes sense. Oh my goodness. We adored my great-grandmother. We adored, I adored my parents. So, you know, when, when we talk about serving others, I’m getting a little bit off the point, but the point is this, we are one. Let’s finish out this, this podcast with a bang. You know, a call to action is always needed. Go up to the penthouse. Take the stairs. When you get to the top, look over 2020. What do you see? What stands out? There must be something that you can take from this dreaded year, that’ll make you a better leader in the long run. Now this, please does not just address skilled nursing communities.

This is Bridge The Aap, a senior living podcast, anybody and everybody who’s involved with senior living, this call to action goes to you. There’s gems, there’s opportunities. There’s moments that you can identify that you can take with you, and you can, and you can implement for positive outcomes. Outcomes that I’m willing to bet will improve quality, will improve the patient centered care, and will improve the way in which we work amongst ourselves and with each other as professionals. Now, with this call to action, I want to share with you an area that I have highlighted. There’s no other way to end this program than to share with you what I have identified. Just one from my penthouse visit. I can’t ask you to go to the penthouse, if I haven’t gone to the penthouse. The contribution that we have made as an industry during this pandemic is something that I’ll never forget.

The contributions made throughout the entire senior healthcare community as a whole. Industry as a whole. If you’re listening to this podcast, you are who I’m talking about. See, we have aligned across the industry and that’s something very special. Home office staff members who were working behind the scenes, just one example, making sure that we had the PPE that was needed. See you, you put us in a position to serve at the street level, but we all have skin in the game. I can go from Bridge The Gap, I can go to our constructor, a construction and manufacturing organizations, I can go to our supply companies, to our trade associations. Come on. The list can go on and on. We arrived one senior healthcare on a year that was noisy. A year with worldwide high level consequences. We survived it as a senior healthcare professional industry! I’ll never forget it. Thanks for listening to this week’s Bridge The Gap Contributor Wednesday, please connect with me at BTGvoice.com.

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CW Ep. 35: Jerald Cosey