There are plenty of things we only want to do once, if at all. A couple of those are root canals and escargot -- so what if it’s a delicacy? You’ve probably got a few on your own list.
But what about when once just isn’t enough?
There’s an activity we like to use at workshops. Most people have some fun with it, and that’s how it's intended. We love to lighten things up a bit while still getting the point across.
But there’s always one or two who are more serious types, or don’t see the point of “playing games” in a business setting. We get that. They tend to grumble a bit, most of the time good-naturedly, and then deal with it and do the “work.”
The challenge is in getting our grumblers to keep going. Because, to get the full impact, everyone has to do the activity twice. And our grumblers didn't like doing it the first time.
But isn’t that a lot like life? There are tons of things we’d like to get right the first time, not because we don’t want to do them again, but because we don’t want to have to do them over. Or we just want to do them BETTER.
Too bad there aren't many things that work that way. With very few exceptions, people just don’t spring from the cradle ready to rock and roll in the real world. We spend years in school learning reading, writing and ‘rithmatic, not to mention the things we’re learning in the “school of life” at the same time. After all, the experts tell us play is a child’s work -- and they’re right.
Play can also be an adult’s work, if we let it. We can learn lessons from everything we do, even the fun stuff.
Our workshop activity is an example. The first go-round is on your own -- you get a set amount of supplies (spaghetti and marshmallows), and work toward the objective. It’s all up to you how you approach it -- and, unless you work with children, you probably won’t have any prior experience.
The second time, there are options. Work on your own and improve what you did before, or team up with others. If you work in a group, you get to pool your resources, plus you’ve got more brains thinking up how to do it better than you did the first time.
But there’s also a catch -- individuals get the whole prize; groups have to split it equally.
Hmmmm… let’s weigh the options. One chance in however many mine’s the best, or several chances, one for each member of the group? More chances to win, more supplies to work with, more ideas to make it better. Sounds like a no-brainer, right?
It should be. Everyone benefits from the group effort, learning from the overall experience as well as from everyone else in their group.
What’s even better is the outcome. At a recent workshop, the winning team’s effort improved by more than 40 percent over the best individual outcome. How would 40 percent growth look translated into sales, production, or the service industry?
Granted, not every activity can be accomplished in a group setting. But there are still ways individual projects can benefit from teamwork. Share your experiences, and seek input from others. Put their “lessons learned” to work to improve your own efforts.
Silos are for grain, not for people. Reach out, connect, and see your world grow.
If you live rural, you know exactly what we mean. The “rural inquisition” is that friendly -- and sometimes not-so-friendly -- interrogation that occurs when someone new comes to town.
The friendly kind is great. It’s the way we figure out what we have in common: how many kids they have, if their kids are in age ranges to hang out with our kids, what they do on the weekends, and all that good stuff. It’s finding the conversation starters that form a basis for neighborliness, and often for life-long friendships.
Then there’s the other kind of rural inquisition -- the not-so-friendly type -- that can sap the life right out of our communities. The questions that go beyond curiosity and relationship-building to fall into the “ranking” category.
With rural populations on the decline, this is something no small town or rural community can afford. The population of rural America declined by 116,000 from 2010-2014, the first period of rural population decline on record for rural America as a whole, with rural population dropping to even lower levels than during the farm crises of the 1980s. Modest upticks occurred in 2015 in counties with economies based on recreation, mining, and government, but counties supported by farming, manufacturing, or non-specialized industries continued to lose ground.
We need to do everything we can to keep life in rural America.
It’s great to celebrate the folks who founded our small towns and rural communities. And we’d be remiss to not mention the same few souls who plan events, chair committees, and volunteer for Everything. These groups each contribute to our way of life as we know and cherish it.
But do good deeds and accomplishments only come about when certain people are involved? Are there only a few in each community who have the time, the skills, and the experience to help make where we live an even better place?
When we pigeon-hole our people -- new and existing -- into the “who’s whos,” the “us vs. them,” and the “not from heres,” we narrow our opportunities as well. Just because they’re not prominent or we don’t know them doesn’t mean they don’t have a toolbox chock-full of great ideas and the know-how to bring those ideas to life.
Okay, so the fun walk/run the town held 10 years ago didn’t work out. Instead of saying “never again” -- never say never! -- try to figure out WHY it didn’t work out. Did the organizers have great intentions but not enough know-how? Was it the wrong time -- too many other events going on, bad weather, or the community just wasn’t ready yet?
Maybe NOW is the time to try it again. Or some other fun idea. Even if it starts out small, there’s always room for growth.
“Movie Night on the Courthouse Wall” may only bring out a few families the first time. But if you choose the right movies and make sure people know about it, it could take off like wildfire, with people inviting their friends and bringing potluck dishes to share.
Bring new life to existing celebrations by adding new activities. Change things up a bit, put a fresh, fun twist on the old familiar. Keep the best, and make it better.
Invite the new folks to join in. New ideas add life and energy, and it’s true -- many hands make work lighter.
Small towns and rural communities are extended families, and we all have that occasional eccentric auntie or awkward uncle. But that’s OK. We’re all family, and we’re all in it together.
Annette & Kate
If it involves small towns, rural, business or people, we write about it. Both the good and the bad. Part of our passion is helping you be the best you can be.