There’s an old joke about “Our town’s so small we don’t have a town drunk – everyone has to take turns.” If you get past the “town drunk” part, there’s a ring of truth to the statement – it takes everyone to get the job done.
Not too long ago we were at one of those solo events for rural women – Ladies Ag Night -- which started out as an evening of fun and learning for the ladies but has branched out to include the gents as well. We had some fun, enjoyed an up-and-coming comedian who shared her typical, but hilariously told, experiences as a city girl learning farm life, and learned a bit about the personality side of Real Colors.
No, this wasn’t one of those “what not to wear” color profiles. It was the 10-minute – okay, more like about 45-minute – tour through a system that helps people identify their strongest personality leanings, understand how people who fall under the other colors see life, and how to best work together. It’s a lot of fun, and some of the groups’ list items and moderator’s comments had us rolling – not laughing at each other, but with each other in agreement.
In a nutshell, everyone self-selected behaviors, values, and beliefs they connected most strongly with. There were several phases that used different methods, so as to reach a more accurate result than could be achieved using a one-size-fits-all model.
It wasn’t the first time we’ve done this, and our results weren’t surprising. What was really interesting, though, were some of the side conversations. “I never would have pegged you for an orange!” “Wow – I always thought I’d be more of a green.” “Do you see how many blues there are?” “Gold? I sure didn’t see THAT coming!”
Don’t be misled – there were broad ranges in the final numbers. Some people’s primary color was far and away their strongest, with the other three trailing far behind. Others were in a much closer numerical grouping, and there were plenty between the two extremes.
The best part was the side discussions of how people saw themselves when the color they selected suggested different skill sets than they expected. We talked among ourselves about how analytical traits combined with empathy, how leadership traits combined with flexibility, and how great people skills and valuing relationships helped offset competitiveness and the affinity for structure.
Think about it. Logical, scientific, research-oriented (green category) people are great to have on a committee looking at revamping the park or making improvements to the school. They’ll get the details and the numbers straight. But adding other traits to the mix will make the committee even better. Bringing a few golds into the group will add greater organization, conservatism and positivity – traits that help move the project forward, while also playing devil’s advocate when needed. A blue or two will help keep everyone working together by using their insight and caring to help consider the needs of those who use the park or the school, while also helping to keep peace when disagreements arise. And let’s not forget the orange category – these folks are great trouble-shooters who like to keep the working environment positive. Need to raise money for the project? Orange traits like persuasiveness and optimism shine at recruiting volunteers and fundraising.
As you can see, all of the traits have value, and all of the personality “colors” bring something to the table -- some off-setting others to create a better whole. And -- no matter the size or scope of the project -- who doesn’t want the best possible outcome?
The rise and fall of rural communities: Just one of many reasons how and why
A good friend recently forwarded this article to Katy: “The secret to keeping some rural businesses alive” by Chris Farrell (Forbes) with the note, ‘It sounds like you!’
After reading it, we decided it does sound much like things we talk about. And we have a few more thoughts add on keeping small/rural businesses alive.
Picture this: Somebody wants to purchase Bob the Builder’s business. That somebody has ideas. New ideas. Fresh ideas. Ideas to bring in more sales consistently. Ideas that build on the existing business.
Now for the zinger (which, sad to say, we’ve witnessed first-hand more than once): The good town folks get wind of this and start vociferously voicing their opinions on said -- gasp! -- changes. Everything from “You CAN’T change thaaaaaat XYZ….” “It’s ALWAYS been like XYZ,” and “It will NEVER workif you change XYZ.”
How do “they” KNOW? Are they experts? Or are they simply resistant to change, because they’re comfortable with what they have?
By saying making these negative comments, they imply -- whether they mean to or not -- that they won’t support the new business. Not monetarily, and not in spirit.
That is daunting to say the least.
This scene has been played out many times in small and rural communities, as well as in big cities, usually with the same result. The buyer who was so excited to have a business in YOUR town backs out and takes their dreams somewhere else. If they don’t take them somewhere else, they simply give up.
Either way the community loses.
The reality is that, especially in a small town, when that one buyer who came forward decides against the venture, odds are good that building -- which could have continued as a viable business and contributor to the community -- will instead become an empty shell.
The longer it stands empty, the greater likelihood the building will fall into disrepair, discouraging other potential buyers. Plus, other folks who may have considered starting or buying a business see the town won’t support change, and they decide to look elsewhere as well.
And poor Bob the Builder gets unconsciously guilted into delaying well-deserved retirement
But what if those changes had been embraced? What a completely different ending the story has. Now, not only does Bob the Builder get to retire, but he is happy knowing his legacy is still alive. The townfolks are excited to still have tools, and even have opportunities for hands-on “how to” sessions, a wider selection, and/or even a new line of hobby or other equipment and supplies.
Or maybe Bob’s building gets completely transformed into a new type of business the community never even knew it wanted until it was open? Maybe Bob’s becomes Zane the Zebra Tamer and offers all sorts of fun and fanciful items or activities. It could even bring people in from outside the area, and boost the economy.
By embracing change in our rural communities, we foster entrepreneurial spirit, grow the tax base, set an example for others, and attract new families. That’s just a partial list of positive things!
But most important of all, we build community.
~Katy & Annette~
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.