Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Defining Ourselves

It’s a lot easier to define ourselves and our organizations by describing the things we're not (or don’t want to be).  It’s much harder to be crystal clear about where we want to go, why we want to go there, how we plan to get there.

I recently saw a news byte on a local television station about a hotly debated issue related to the progress of our community.  The TV journalist decided to do one of those man-on-the-street interviews to gauge public sentiment on the issue.  The reporter approached an older gentleman who was wearing a ball cap, flannel shirt, and denim overalls.  The reporter started the conversation by saying something like, “Sir, we’re doing a survey to see how folks feel about…”  Before she could finish the sentence the old man said, “I’m agin’ it!”  

Interesting to me was the fact that he didn’t really care what the topic/issue was, he just knew he was “agin’ it.”  Clearly, he had no clear conception of, nor interest in, the public policy issue at hand, especially if it meant some kind of change in the current status.  The community leadership, which was promoting movement toward a better future, had certainly not made a compelling case for their initiative (for this gentleman, at least).

Every organization, every community, every team has the I'm-agin'-it group. Sometimes they can be convinced of need for improvement, sometimes not.  They will never be convinced if a clear and believable better future hasn't been articulated and defined.  The way we define ourselves is critical in gaining support for continuous improvement efforts. 

Defining ourselves, personally and organizationally, 
     in positive ways, 
          aligned with noble intentions,
               with clear and doable action steps (even if baby steps), 
is a prerequisite to meaningful movement toward betterness (yep, I invented that word).  

Far better than taking a this-is-not-me/us approach is to:
1) know who/what we want to be,
2) commit to pursuing those goals relentlessly, and
3) saying so publicly and in a positive way.  

Somebody has to make that case.

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