With the new year approaching, it is time to evaluate the opportunity that we, in the senior living industry, have that very few others have. Regardless of your specific role in the industry, we all have a way that we can serve. This opportunity is unique, compared to other businesses, because we serve such a variety of people. Between residents, families and community employees, we serve an infinite profile of demographics. Included within these groups are people of all ages, races, backgrounds, pasts and futures. There are other industries that serve large and diverse groups, but unique to senior living is the fact that not only is the universe large, but many of these people we will serve for the rest of their lives. It isn’t a day, a week or a month of service, but, if we are doing our jobs right, forever. In this annual time of reflection, it has occurred to me that the distractions of my job have kept me from being fully focused daily on this great blessing of being a servant. The purpose of this article is to personally think through the opportunity that I have to recalibrate towards serving others.
Regardless of whether you are the CEO of the company, a direct resident care team member, or a maintenance director, you have a chance every day to impact many lives. By sitting for five extra minutes to ask a resident about their day, ask a family member if there is something you can do to help them when they come to your community, or ask a fellow team member how their day is going, you are taking that extra step to recalibrate towards service.
Like many other efforts in our lives, being a servant takes practice. It takes a focused mindset, and daily intent. Historically, when I have undergone this effort, I have to build a habit that centers daily activities around servanthood. These habits usually are best to build at home, intending for their lessons to extend to work. I set the alarm clock a few minutes earlier to make my kids a hot breakfast instead of a bowl of cereal. When I get home from work, I make sure to wash whatever dishes are in the sink. On the weekend, I take my wife’s car to fill it with gas and vacuum the floors. I like to start these habits at home because it sure is great how much easier the rest of my life is when my family is happy. They see me serving them, and they go out and serve others.
I submit that a great way to get started is with a 2019 New Year’s Resolution. Resolve to do one act of service every day for the first week. The second week, add a second act of service, and for each subsequent week, add another act. Take two minutes at the end of each day to write down what you did for someone else that day. Not only will you begin to build the habit of service, but you will be more mindful of how you serve. An ancillary benefit, that may be the best outcome, is that someone else feels better because you have served, and they may go out and serve someone as well. Your small act could change the lives of everyone in your senior living community, and change your piece of the world as well.