Winning vs Losing

When we play a game, we understand there’s a chance we will lose. We want to win, because winning gives us opportunities to become the champion, to become more popular, to have more power.

There is a lot to be said about winning.

Look for quotes about winning and you’ll find one for every situation:

“Winner takes all.”

“Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”

When it comes to communities, though, winning takes on a different meaning.

In order for a community to win, there must be a different approach to winning.

One in which the idea of winning doesn’t measure success by how many losers they’ve left in their path to the top.

Too many losers in the community brings everyone down, which leads to an unhealthy, or even toxic environment in which no one thrives, limiting the chances the community will win.

A community — big or small — is responsible for creating an environment that measures success differently.

Sentiment, quality of life, reputation, culture, accessibility, just to name a few.

In order to improve these areas, communities need leaders who recognize that you can’t use the same metrics for quality of life for everyone. Each member of the community has different needs.

If the community leaders focus too much in one direction, focusing on the tangible, easy to see measurements of success, they will easily forget that there are the less visible, non-obvious aspects of their community that will begin to decline.

It’s easy to rattle off the wins. To show the great strides being made in unemployment, or real estate development.

But the hard work starts when we want to improve things that are harder to measure. Sentiment, quality of life (for everyone?) reputation, culture, accessibility.

It’s a place most winners don’t want to go. Because they are unsure how they will be able to win, in a game that has no clear grid for measuring success.

It’s easier to focus on what we’re good at, than it is to find a way to become better at the things we are not. But this is a fallacy —  this is how we become (and stay) mediocre.

In the end, if we want our community to win, we have to look beyond the easy to see, easy to measure, and start to find ways to improve the things that will impact our community in more subtle, less obvious ways.

And, this might mean losing for awhile. But if the end game is a better community, the results of the effort will be more winning.

The legacy of our community, then, will be one that serves the future generations — with strength, resilience — valuing the hard work it takes to do the best thing for the community they will soon serve as leaders.

If we’re playing to win, we have to remember – We are all on the same team.

Relationships are the Root of Success

Thriving communities give off a special kind of vibe. There’s an energy and a dynamic that spreads in the smiles, actions and connections that are shared among the people of any successful community. I once heard the statement: “The Roots Determine the Fruits” and it resonated with me. Another similar message was “Garbage in, garbage out.” When it comes to the health of individuals it makes complete sense.

Imagine a grove of healthy, strong trees. The strength of one does not make all of them strong, nor does one smaller, weaker tree create a weak system for all the trees’ health.

No, the roots are the foundation for the health of any organization — groves, families, cities, countries — all the goodness comes from the roots.

I spend a lot of time thinking about communities. And, about how to make them stronger. The answer is not more, the answer is better quality.

We say things like, “A rising tide lifts all ships” as if it’s a magic spell. We just need to say these words, and all will rise.

 If the fruits are a result of the roots, it’s going to take more than just a storm surge to improve the communities we live in and love so much. Our love can be both dividing and uniting, depending on where our love is coming from.

And, if the roots of our love are healthy and strong, resilient and determined to give fruit to the world, we have everything we need. People, not systems determine a healthy thriving community.

The systems, when developed in a healthy environment, unite, not divide.

Relationships, trust, respect, concern, empathy, love. That is the stuff of great communities.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

We are what we consistently think — and do. Do you know why Rome wasn’t built in a day? Do you know why patience is a virtue? Do you know why excellence has never existed as a result of one single act?

It’s all in the details — in every action, exchange, promise made (and kept), and in every opportunity.

Several years ago, I was walking downtown and a friend named Kimberly stopped me to say hello. In our 3 minute chat, she said something that no one had ever said to me in my entire life — “I admire your consistency.”

At that moment, it occurred to me that I was making progress. The work was paying off.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, success is new to me. At 42, I can’t even say I have felt successful at anything 1/3 of my life. The only thing I was consistently — was unhappy.

It was only a few years ago that I was eating dinner at my parents’ house, reminiscing and celebrating, “How far Chrissanne has come.” When my mom looked at me and said, “I still don’t know why you cut the screen door.” I looked at her mildly annoyed, and insisted — “I never did that. I swear, I never cut the screen.”

At this point, my brother, who was in the kitchen when my mom asked the question, walked in, saying casually, “You mean the screen door? In the shape of an L? That was me. I cut it when I was in high school because I had lost my key to the house and had to get in so I could get my basketball uniform for a game.”

At this point, 20+ years later, it doesn’t matter. But the reality of how little I was trusted as a teenager, is the reason I am sharing this story. Whether or not my brother had been there to admit to this adolescent mischief, didn’t matter. I had earned my parents’ trust — finally. This was just a little icing on the cake — I had been denying this for years, and the mystery — Who could it have been if it wasn’t Chrissanne? Had finally been solved.

Today, I am not the same person I was as a teenager. I might even be a little too honest and transparent — call it over compensation — but it is this fact that I believe overall has made success possible in my business, and it has paid off, in more ways than I can probably even measure.

What can we learn about this as professionals? Leaders of organizations?

If we’re fighting with our customers, trying to “prove ourselves” to them every single day, should we stop and look back at how we got here in the first place? If we acknowledge that we have made mistakes, that we have lost our path, and admit that we have overlooked the needs of our customers— that we have put our agenda (making money, getting our way) ahead of those we are ultimately in business to serve — do we want to continue doing things this way, and risk losing their favor and trust forever, or could this be the way we can win it back?

Over the years, the public has become numb to the effects of power. We’re not surprised when big companies force their agenda. We expect to be lied to, we expect there to be some hidden back office deal that only the powerful know about. We detest this fact, but we’ve been seemingly helpless to do anything about it.

And yet, today, more than ever before, we do have a voice. Our concerns can be shared with our social media connections. This, combined with years of feeling like we don’t matter, like we have no voice, has begun influencing the marketplace. Regular, every day people are making it known how little trust they have for the system. We are pushing back, and our voices are getting louder.

The question is, what are powerful companies, organizations, local governments going to do about it?

They want buy-in. They want the public to cheer when there’s some great news to share. But, instead, we’re just asking a lot of questions, pushing back, doubting. The bridges have been burnt and in disrepair for far too long. Now, that they need us, now that our voices are slowing things down, and challenging the system, it’s obvious that something needs to change.

And, if we’re looking at the long view, this is a necessary step for progress.

It’s going to require that the people are part of the process again. Because the trust that used to exist needs to be built back up again.

This is not much different than my parents pushing back when I was a teenager. Even when I was telling the truth, they didn’t believe me. The public has lost trust. We’re assuming there’s something we’re not being told — because that’s what we’re used to, we expect to be lied to, so we don’t believe anything anymore.

The only way to combat this, is to undo it.

To go back and create a new, honest, transparent way. To overcompensate, over-communicate, and over deliver — consistently working to be better, to win back the trust, and be trustworthy.

Beginning with the conversation that says — “We want to do better.” Followed by consistently doing “Better.”

The other side of this – the part that brings the people in to the conversation, that’s just as important as the door being open. We, the people cannot continue to take pot-shots, and stand on the sidelines expressing our displeasure. We must engage, and stay engaged. We must listen, if we want to be heard. And, we must place our personal agendas aside, and see the big picture.

We might have to sacrifice some things along the way. They might even be big things. But if our eyes are on the best future for all of our community, all of our city, all of our country, we will see that our agenda is not the only agenda, and, maybe not the most important agenda. 

But, I will warn you, it is hard. And it is frustrating, and it will require that we all work to create the future we’re seeking. We are all on the same team. We all want opportunity, prosperity, economic growth, a talented work force, an inspired and engaged community.

Because, when the trust is built, it cannot just be one-sided.

Together. That is how we get there.

And, hopefully, at some point — over time, we can all sit around the table, remembering when things needed fixing, and celebrating “how far we’ve come.”