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Learning Wisdom & Sharing Insight

Submitted by Kara Webb, Director of Assisted Living

I recently attended the 2023 Iowa Healthcare Association Convention and had an opportunity to listen to some incredible speakers present about the long-term care industry as well as leadership. Continuing Education, while required for licensing and certification, is truly such a remarkable thing and I always get excited about sharing some of the things I’ve learned.

One of those speakers was Jamie Pollard, athletic director for Iowa State University for the past 20 years.  Going into his session I was apprehensive. I am a Hawkeye fan after all, and I questioned what this AD could possibly talk about for an hour and a half that I would find interesting or applicable to my field. When I walked out of the room approximately 75 minutes later however, I had an entirely different perspective.

Pollard offered what he referred to as his “Pearls of Wisdom”, a short impactful list of life lessons he has learned throughout his career to which he attributes his success. I took home and wish to share with you a couple of them…

  1. Don’t focus so much on the destination, that you forget to enjoy the journey.

Pollard talked about how a dream he always had was to guide the Cyclones to a bowl game, specifically a Fiesta Bowl. This dream became a reality for him when the rankings were announced in December of 2020 and ISU was invited to play in the Fiesta Bowl on January 2, 2021. The anticipation for the game was high, and there was a lot that happened leading up to that moment; however, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic the game was played in a virtually empty stadium with no traditional parades or pre or post-game celebrations. Pollard found himself disappointed. Not only had the dream or the ‘destination’ been a letdown, even though they had beat Oregon 34-17, but he had failed to stop and take the time to appreciate and enjoy all the little moments that led him to that point. In hindsight, he wishes he would have had the presence of mind to enjoy the journey.

I think this is something we are all a little guilty of, at all stages of our lives. Whether it be an upcoming wedding, vacation, move, retirement, or whatever the case may be, we focus so much on the destination that we do not appreciate all the little moments that lead up to it. I encourage you to be more mindful of your journey, wherever it is leading you.

  1. Followers are just as important as Leaders.

In life, we are surrounded by all types of people. Many are constantly pushing others to be the best they can be and to be leaders, whether it be in their careers, in their families, or among their peers. But the truth of the matter is that even the best leaders follow something or someone, so maybe the focus should shift at times to what it takes to be an excellent follower. Dependability, teamwork, honesty, support, hard work.  These are all attributes of excellent leaders AND FOLLOWERS. Pollard used College Gameday as an example of this Pearl. While he is the backbone behind ISU Football and all of its decisions, he posed the question, “Do you think anyone would even notice if I skipped out on Gameday?” The crowd pretty unanimously agreed that he likely would not be missed on Gameday even in his leadership role. Pollard then asked, “Do you think anyone would notice if the announcer decided not to show up? Or the videographer? Or the fine people who park the cars and direct traffic?” among many other support positions he mentioned. His message was pretty clear. As leaders, we would be nothing without those who support and follow us. In families, every role is important. Take the time to appreciate and embrace your role, whatever it may be.

  1. Don’t assume. Unless you see it or experience it yourself, you really cannot trust it. Seriously.

This might have been my favorite lesson he spoke of. Pollard divulged about their search for a new head coach in 2015 and how they had a solid list of candidates, but their eyes honed in on one, current ISU head coach Matt Campbell. Pollard scheduled Campbell’s interview the Saturday after Thanksgiving and the other candidates for Sunday. At the conclusion of Matt’s interview Pollard knew he was the man they wanted and offered to cancel the remaining candidates if Matt would commit then and there. Matt Campbell accepted the coaching position. Pollard voiced concern about the commitment being leaked to the press before they would be able to get back to Iowa to let the team and the rest of Cyclone Nation know about the decision, but Matt’s attorney assured him he would “take care of it.” Later that evening while they were all out to dinner celebrating, Pollard’s wife called sympathetic explaining that ESPN had just announced Matt Campbell was in Missouri and was a strong candidate for their head coaching position and offered her support to her husband who she thought was not able to seal the deal. There was obvious confusion and Pollard later learned that the attorney’s way of “taking care of” the press was to call in a favor at ESPN, and ask them to tell the world the “Cambell in Missouri” story as a diversion to buy them some time. (Mind Blown.) ESPN! One of the most trusted international sports and entertainment platforms in history and it was completely made up.

You see… you cannot always believe what you hear even from the most trusted of sources… so try to keep your mind open and free of assumptions.

As you can probably tell I was completely enthralled in Jamie Pollards “Pearls of Wisdom”, and there is so much more I could share from the insight he had if I only had the room. I would be lying if I said I did not have a little bit more appreciation for ISU athletics after listening to and meeting him. You may be asking yourself, “How does this relate to Eventide Events?” and all I can say is I feel it is important to learn and to share what we learn at every stage in our lives. One of the things I love most about working in long-term care is listening to our aging population talk about their own “Pearls of Wisdom” as they relate to life, love, careers, etc. There is an endless amount of valuable information at our fingertips, all you must do is be willing to take the time and listen. As Jamie Pollard says, appreciate the journey.

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