You know that I am a huge believer in the power of stories to transform lives and whole organizations.

By Steve Moran

A few weeks ago I got invited to attend a breakfast gathering in Nashville where Cindy Baier, the CEO of Brookdale, was interviewed in front of a group of local business leaders by the Nashville Business News and I wrote about what she had to say about the future of Brookdale.

In that article, I claimed that as positive as I thought the news of where Brookdale was going, it was not the thing that really pumped me up and I promised a follow-up article.

A Crazy-Making Frustration

If you are even a casual reader of Senior Housing Forum you know that I am a huge believer in the power of stories to transform lives and whole organizations. It is the only practical way I know, to grow ideas, concepts, and even programs into motion. For that reason, it is rare to not see a story of some kind in anything I write and this is mostly true of other writers at Senior Housing Forum as well.

So I find myself, when I have conversations with senior living leaders, asking if they can tell me a story that will make me cringe, cry, laugh, or teach me something about how their organization has impacted the lives of a resident, team member, or family member.

It seems, honestly like a no brainer question to me.

Yet, here is how it mostly goes:

Leader:  “There are just so many stories . . .” followed by an uncomfortable silence.

Steve:  “Can you tell me just one . . .” more uncomfortable silence.

After which, they either tell me a sort of good story or I let them off the hook by saying, “Maybe I can catch up with you later.”

But I find myself thinking, leaders more than anyone should have these stories to tell. Lisa Sheldon gifted me a powerful story that I use in almost every keynote I do. Kimberly Green is another one who has gifted me a bunch of stories I use over and over again.

Now the Best Part

During the interview, Cindy told the story of a woman who had moved into a Brookdale community with zero purposeful life left in her and how that community impacted her life to the point of her having a serious next chapter or maybe two to live.   

She told the story short form and even with that, I found myself thinking, “That could be where I want to live, in another decade or two.”

These stories put flesh on what we do. They “prove” what we say we do is the real deal. These stories are not just the purview of your salespeople. In fact, it is more important that the top leadership has these stories ready to tell at a moment’s notice.

Not quite right . . . 

Top leaders should be bursting to tell these stories like a parent talking about when their toddler takes their first step?

Do you have a story or two?