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One Lesson from Billie Jean King

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By Denise Boudreau-Scott

It was a Tuesday when the phone rang. It was my buddy Steve Moran. "What are you doing on Thursday?" A quick glance at my calendar confirmed I wasn't traveling and would be in my NJ-based office.  

"Do you want to go to NYC to meet Billie Jean King?" These are the random things that happen to you when you're friends with Steve. They don't even surprise me anymore. And so two days later I found myself in a room buzzing with the energy of Atria Senior Living team members.  

Regan Atkinson, Atria's SVP of Marketing, Communication and Customer Engagement, interviewed Billie Jean and as you can imagine the stories she shared were inspiring and almost unbelievable. But one quote particularly struck me: “You have to keep fighting all the time – it keeps you fired up. I have to have a fire in my belly every day. If you don’t feel it – manufacture it!”

It’s difficult to show up every day with an abundance of positivity to share. Let’s face it, life is hard and sometimes it’s really HARD to be a "cheerleader" when you’re not feeling that cheery. 

Worry about YOU

Negativity is contagious. That heavy, tense feeling when someone enters the workspace and they’re teeming with complaints? It’s toxic. Without even speaking a word, the energy is sucked out of a room.

We’re not just talking about the impact of negativity on team members. We’re talking about the entire community who is feeding off this energy. Imagine a person living with dementia. They may not understand every word you speak, but they can feel that energy you bring. What are you bringing into their space?

The good news is positivity is just as contagious! 

We hear it all the time, how do you overcome the negativity?

Remember as a child being told to mind your manners? The same should be said of our own individual positivity or negativity – mind it, manage it, own it! Don’t worry about what others are doing. Worry about Y. O. U. If we all minded our energy and mindset we wouldn't have to worry about the person next to us.

So what happens when you are not having your best day? You show up at work and you just don’t have it in you to give it your all that day. You fake it 'til you make it. Like Billie Jean King says, you manufacture it. It’s that important.   

How to Light the Fire

One way to light that fire in your belly is to wake each morning with a sense of gratitude. You won’t have to wear this façade, redirecting your mindset can be a learned mentality. Focusing on gratitude can help pull you out of any funk.

What’s good? What’s right? What’s joyful? What are you thankful for?

Focus on the answers to these questions and the rest seems to melt away.  

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

                                                                                               – William Arthur Ward.

Showing up day after day, filled with gratitude and brimming with positivity is a gift for your coworkers and residents. Be accountable for what YOU bring each and every day!  

Your culture is defined by the worst behavior you’re willing to tolerate. That includes yourself. Raise the bar. Chose gratitude and adjust your attitude!

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