A Good Enough Vision
It wasn’t a perfect vision but apparently, it was a good-enough vision.
I recently had a rather lengthy conversation with our youngest son trying to provide more explanation for why I had moved across the country. He was genuinely perplexed and likely feeling somewhat abandoned, even though he’s been living on his own for several years. After all, as he reminded me, hadn’t I always said, “Family first”?
I struggled to find the words but started by assuring him that my family is, and always will be, my most important value.
I would have suggested there were woodchips in the windmills of your mind if you had told me I would enjoy a week that included three solid days of meetings that were all about planning. And yet, that’s exactly what happened this past week. I enjoyed it. I spent three days with an incredible team that is working to build stronger, healthier and more creative communities.
The meetings were anything but boring. We covered a lot of ground, made significant decisions and delegated responsibilities.
Their successes should have been cause for community celebration.
Yet praise for the successes ignited by the emerging leaders in their towns weren’t always unanimous. Too often those in senior positions seemed more intent on reminding them of their place within their respective hierarchies.
Unfortunately, this seems to be a recurring theme in much of the community leadership coaching I’m involved with these days.
One such initiative is focused on using parks and recreation to create the places, spaces, and culture that will encourage people to get physically and socially engaged in their communities.
I’m the first to admit I’m a big fan of retail therapy. On the other hand, I don’t consider shopping for groceries to be fun at all. For me grocery shopping is definitely a chore.
However, as I was buying groceries today, it seemed the clerk at my checkout was even less of a fan.
She just looked so miserable I felt compelled to find something positive to say.
Glancing at her I smiled and said, “You’re definitely a good packer”.
Honestly, it’s not as inane as it sounds. After all, she really was a good…
Posted on 02-17-08
White Bikes - A Solution for Inner Community Travel??
It seems to me that the secret of creative thinking might just be starting with good problems.
Then, before you can even think about generating ideas, that problem needs to be turned into a challenge.
My current work includes working with a community of approximately 500 full time citizens augmented by seasonal cottagers, who live within a serene and natural resource-rich environment. They care for their community and one another, work hard, speak honestly and directly, and share a distinct and often wacky sense of humour.
As with many small communities, they are dealing with the challenge of transportation.… More Posted on 02-10-08
Shifting to Wellness
Last week, an Alberta provincial minister did something a bit unusual and perhaps even somewhat courageous.
Dave Hancock, Minister of Health and Wellness, hosted a provincial forum for some two hundred senior policy and decision makers from across the government, voluntary and business sectors.
Similar to other provincial statistics and as he discussed in his opening address, 40% of the population is considered to be overweight or obese, cases of type 2 diabetes have doubled in the last 20 years, and health care costs have risen by an astonishing 12.2% over the past year to the point that it…
Posted on 02-03-08
Stretching to Touch the Future
Last week while shopping for a gift, I came across a poster with a picture of a rock climber reaching upward along a sheer face of mountain. The caption below read, You gotta stretch to touch the future.
It struck me that the initiative I’m focusing most of my energies on these days is about that kind of stretching. Those involved are working hard to find new ways of working with community leaders to build healthy, vibrant and creative communities.
This week a family connection resulted in me landing tickets to see Michael Bublé’s sold-old concert.
The big band/jazz/pop crooner, often compared to Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, put on a magnificent show. His music literally had people dancing in the aisles. He was funny, irreverent, and surprisingly authentic….kind of made you proud that he was Canadian.
Of mostly Italian heritage, Bublé was born in British Columbia and grew up listening to his grandfather’s collection of jazz records. In listening to the romantic and meaningful lyrics of those songs, it became clear to him that he wanted to…
Posted on 01-20-08
Mistakes Were Made
When I write a column I think my dad might find interesting, I make a copy and send it to him. He called me this week after reading several I had sent that referenced family members.
While he said it a bit in jest, there was an undercurrent of sadness when he suggested that it might be nice if I were to write a column about him some time.
He is right of course, I don’t write about him.
A long time ago I worked for a guy who was something of a leadership junkie. Every time he got back from a conference or read a new book, we would brace ourselves for what we referred to as his new flavour-of-the-week management theory.
Inspired by his enthusiasm, we would initially adopt a gung-ho approach to implementing some new thinking or approach.
Without fail, it would ultimately die a slow death and we would then hold our collective breath waiting for the next new great idea to be sent our way.
Given that it’s January and we’re… More Posted on 01-06-08
Different Learning Styles, Different Teaching Methods
I have a good friend who I’ve always thought would make a fabulous teacher. She’s finally making the leap and will teach a course this semester at Niagara College.
Although anyone who knows her is confident she’ll be great, she admits to being a bit nervous. I really don’t think she needs to be as she really does know her stuff. Additionally, she’s very organized, works hard, and is the kind of person who cares deeply about others. The students will love her.
As year end approaches, I’ve always been a big fan of looking ahead and making plans.
As business guru Tom Peters wrote in his book Thriving on Chaos, it’s important to ask two questions.
One, have I made a difference in the last two years and two, am I having fun yet? If the answer is no, you still have work to do.
This year I’m not sure I’m quite ready to look forward. Given what I’ve learned and how blessed I’ve been this past year, it seems more appropriate for me this time round to invest…
Posted on 12-26-07
Riding the Addictions Roller-Coaster
It used to be our family’s dirty little secret.
But, believing others could perhaps benefit from our learning, my family suggested we share.
As a result, almost exactly one year ago, my column included a letter I had written to a younger brother caught up in the terrible pain of addiction.
There wasn’t a family member who ever believed it possible that one of us would end up on the street. We’ve learned that addiction does not discriminate and that it is so very complicated.
I won’t be home for Christmas.
Just putting that in writing makes me weepy.
The reality is that it will be a very quiet Christmas. My husband and I will celebrate, for the first time ever, without our children and our respective extended families. Instead we’ll spend Christmas Eve with good friends and Christmas Day on our own.
Ultimately one of the silver linings within a potentially blue Christmas is that it’s made me think a lot about my own values and making sure I’m living them.
It was, as Dr. Phil would put it, a defining moment. It occurred for Ian Hill, a good friend of mine, as he drove by and saw kids splashing about in a puddle in the parking lot of a rundown motel.
Despite cool weather, the kids were shoeless and dressed in ill-fitting, grungy clothes that had seen better days. For some unknown reason, he felt compelled to stop and talk.
He learned that although the kids lived with their mother in one of the dismal motel rooms, they were alone because she was at work. They were without…
Posted on 12-07-07
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