"When you're in love with another person your brain chemistry changes. We don't yet know the exact biochemical cause of romantic love – it appears to be some combination of oxytocin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and vasopressin. But research does reveal that when engaged in an activity you love, that same chemical cocktail is present in your brain – and brings feelings of joy and wonder" (Marcus Buckingham, Harvard Business Review 2022).
Last week in Salt Lake City, I was honored to spend time with Elvedina Hazma (Elva), who has worked for Century Park for more than 20 years. Elva was one of the associates who stayed when others quit because of their fear of COVID-19. Elva is an immigrant from Bosnia. She recounted how her only son stood within the doorway of their home and forbade Elva to leave their Salt Lake City home because he was concerned about losing his mother to the virus. As she recounted this moment, Elva looked at me, and with strong conviction in her voice said, "Esmerelda, I love these residents. Some days it was just two of us cooking and packing food for 150 residents, but how could I leave the people I love when they needed me the most?"
As Elva and I sat talking in the back of the Highland Cove kitchen, another associate entered. Doaa is from Iran, and she had the most beautiful eyes filled with joy as she began making preparations to cook for the evening shift. I asked Doaa if she loved her job, and without even giving it thought, Doaa responded, "It makes me happy."
Another memorable associate in this community is Niarya. She has been a cook for several years at Highland Cove, and she helped escort me during my tour of the community. As we walked and talked, Niarya told me how her mother died in Russia from COVID during the pandemic. Niarya mentioned that she had not seen her mom for nine years and was not able to go to her, but she said, "Loving the residents during this time made me feel like I was doing something, and if I could not take care of my own mother, then at least I am taking care of another's mother."
Like most, I am not a perfect employee. In fact, I make mistakes every day. But as I listened to Elva, Doaa, and Niarya, as well as other associates like Mai, Tammie, Javier, and Dina, I realized that being perfect in a job does not matter as much as showing love in all you do.
These precious Highland Cove team members epitomize the scripture found in 1 Corinthians 13:4: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."