Posted in on November 9, 2016

Gettin’ Gritty with Not-for-Profit Senior Living

Last week five members of the Creating Results team assembled in Indianapolis for the 2016 LeadingAge Annual Meeting.

This conference attracted more than 8,000 senior living and senior services providers from around the country, along with a healthy cohort of those who provide products and services to the industry.

In addition to inspiring keynote speakers there were hundreds of education sessions. (Our team was privileged to be among the featured experts, presenting data and insights from Social, Silver Surfers 2016 research.) Over the next few weeks, we’ll share highlights from selected sessions on this blog.

The series starts today with take-aways from a lively program that got people tweeting and thinking.

Session: “The Power of A Gritty Mindset”

Speaker: Angela Duckworth

Psychology professor and MacArthur Fellow Angela Duckworth shared her thoughts on how GRIT is essential for innovation and achievement.

She began the session by stating that “Nobody has a job that’s more important” than those in aging services. In order to fulfill their mission as non-profit senior care providers, those assembled must have both passion and commitment.

Duckworth added one more ingredient to this recipe for success: perseverance.

Citing experts ranging from Charles Darwin to her “favorite psychologist,” the actor Will Smith (!), the speaker stressed that continued, consistent effort would yield high achievers who can make the difference in the lives of seniors.

Angela Duckworth's formula for grit: sustained passion and perserverance for especially long-term goals

As McKnight’s Senior Living News editor Lois Bowers tweeted, “Talent = getting better at stuff. Skill involves effort, heart, soul, tears and time.” Creating Results’ Beth Mickey was struck by the intentionality required. “It’s hard and not that fun, but with deliberate practice improvement happens,” noted Beth.

Why should those marketing to seniors care about grit? Turns out that even in the constantly-changing marketing world, passion + perseverance yields superior results.

Gritty marketers perform best - Angela Duckworth

(Terrible image, I know. Hoping Ms. Duckworth might send over a nice replacement!)

I appreciated the way Duckworth tailored her stories of grit to the LeadingAge audience, highlighting a young woman who’d created a beauty salon program for elders, for instance, and noting that grit is one of the things that gets better with age!

As Daniel Winegarden of CCRC Lifecast noted, “Greater age, greater grit. Granddad always said getting older isn’t for wimps.”

The Relationship Between Purpose and Grit

Most importantly, Duckworth addressed the value of a sense of purpose for cultivating and maintaining GRIT.

Ensuring that our communities foster/support purpose-filled lives for older adults is a growing theme in senior living. Just as our team members are driven to make a difference in the world, so are our older residents:

Angela Duckworth believes a sense of purpose is required to sustain the passion and perseverance that make up GRIT.

It was a question from ABHOW/’s Dan Hutson, sparked by this session, that became one of the most shared tweets of the conference:

Tweet from Dan Hutson - senior living communities with meaning and purpose

Imagine, indeed.

We’re excited to collaborate with the readers of this blog to keep the conversations from LeadingAge 2016 going! Please share your “imaginings” and reactions in the comment section below.

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