I respectfully submit the following thoughts:
1. Don’t rely on magazine articles for your self-esteem. These articles make some valid points but lacks the context necessary for real analysis. Our community is not all good or all bad. Some people in our community are hurting and that hurts me and should hurt you too. For most people, we know where we were, we know how far we have come, and we know the work ahead.
2. Look around our community – look in the mirror, look at your neighbors, people across town, folks who work in the public and private sectors, rich, poor, black, white, Hispanic, etc. For better or worse, this is our team. If we work together, then we will continue to create positive change. If we don’t, no outside group can do it for us.
“What happens in the White House is important; however, what happens in my house is more important.” What happens on my street, my place of business, my kid’s school, and my church is more important. Nobody from outside is going to help us through our challenges: not Washington and not Springfield. Long-term, I would bet on my town before I would bet on either one of those towns. This is our team.
3. Too many Gen X and Y men are fathers but not dads. Local religious leaders, political leaders, and adult men of all ages and races need to stop talking around this topic. Long-term community transformation is impossible without improvement in this area. Fathers need to be more part of the team!
4. More young people need to go to church. This part of my life could use some improvement. Educational growth is important but so is spiritual growth. This will strengthen our team.
5. Change is incremental and that’s ok. To use a baseball analogy, we need to base-hit vs. homerun our way to transformation. And, we need to get better at celebrating small wins. This creates a sense of momentum on the team.
6. Some really smart people have great ideas that will help improve our community. However, having a good idea is one thing and selling that great idea is another. Yes, sometimes people resist change. Get over it. Work through it. We need less press conferences and more coffee meetings. We need fewer memos and more chats over a beer. We need to keep talking when we disagree. Why? Because this is our team.
7. Most people in business are hard working and honest people. Most people in education are hard working and honest people too. If these two groups continue to work together, then our community will continue to transform. If business and education can work together, then I don’t see why in-roads can’t be made with labor and management as well as within political circles. Again, this is our team! And there is only one team!
8. When it comes to educational attainment levels, we all need to take a “next step.” In many ways, some of our challenges are no different than other communities – Baby Boomers will be retiring in large numbers and we need younger people ready to fill these jobs. Baby Boomers also need to continue to focus on growing leaders within their organizations and this community; not just holding on to power. I believe that there are many who understand this concept and they will be the ones who leave the biggest legacy. At the end of the day, we need to grow our farm club. Why? This strengthens our team.
9. Gen X, Y, and Millennia’s need to step-up. We need to challenge ourselves first, our peers second, and others third. We need to challenge old thinking and bad ideas. We need to rally around good ideas. Why? The team needs you more than ever and your involvement will determine what future articles say about our community.
The people at Forbes don’t need to like our team…. But we sure do! I like my team and I believe in my team. Don’t you?