It’s Not Always More, Sometimes it is Less

Winston Churchill said, “The positive THINKER sees the INVISIBLE, feels the INTANGIBLE, and achieves the IMPOSSIBLE”.  Every community has a group of citizens that seem to have a problem for every solution. This is what can, if allowed, destroy a community’s efforts to change and transform themselves.  Just as perfect can be the enemy of great, at times we must settle for good if it moves you in the direction of great.

For a community to achieve greater success, change, and transformation, they don’t need to always add new initiatives. At times, addition by subtraction is the key. Let me suggest a few things communities might consider doing less of to become more successful in their quest for greatness.

Abandon short-term thinking.  Most successful communities have established long-term goals and strategies. Everything they do in the short-term feeds into those long-term goals and strategies.  They know long-term thinking or goals determines their short-term initiatives and thinking.  They know their habits and thinking must be embraced and become part of their community-wide DNA.

Stop thinking small.  To transform, a community must think BIG!  Too many communities are stuck in the rut of allowing the past to dictate their plans and goals.  Historically, the only large successes typically experienced are those derived from big ideas.  Too many communities have experienced defeat for so long that they no longer believe in themselves.  They create small-minded goals, easy to reach and deemed safe, so they aren’t viewed as failing. Successful communities around the country are proving the ‘defeated attitude’ is simply a narrow-minded albatross holding communities from gaining greater heights. It has been said, you never make a shot you don’t take. Dare to dream and dare to achieve.

Stop making excuses.  Randy Pausch expressed it best when he said, “It’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play the hand.”  Successful communities understand they alone are responsible for their success, their failures, their strengths, and their weaknesses. While certainly helpful, they learned long ago not to solely rely on the government and other entities to achieve success. They have charted their own course, making no excuses, dealing with the economics and winds of change as they arrive. They understand every day is a gift and make the most of it.

Don’t live in the past.  All too often, communities insist upon living in the past, forced to regurgitate their history because that history was the last time the town was vibrant and alive. Even as their historic events are dwindling in attendance and excitement, they cling to them as if it still matters to the younger generations. Successful communities have learned to migrate traditional events into new and exciting events combining history with current times.

The silver bullet isn’t coming.  While we all want silver bullets, they are difficult to locate when it comes to transforming communities. Revitalizing a downtown, or community for that matter takes years of painstaking effort. Successful communities understand making many small and continuous improvements on a daily, weekly, and yearly basis gives them consistent results over time.  Don’t however confuse this slower evolution with the need for an occasional rapid revolution.  Every community needs a revitalization revolution now and again to kick start success.

Perfectionism is debilitating – As stated above, perfect is the enemy of great!  Great is the enemy of good! Understand change and transformation are never clean and clear, it can be very hard and even ugly.  Embark on the journey, knowing it won’t be perfect.  Don’t fret, keep moving forward and adjust along the way. Beware of naysayers always focused on the negative when the less than perfect initiatives pop up – they are a cancer to the community.  Nothing is ever perfect, no matter how much you may try.

Ignore and move on from toxic people.  Toxic people must be ignored and marginalized. You know who they are.  They literally have problems for every solution. They create problems, they start or perpetuate rumors, they drag others into the fray, and are just plain destructive to communities.  They are a cancer to any forward-thinking community.  If you can’t convert them to your positive-thinking team, they must be moved to the category of irrelevant.  Instead, spend your time with positive people, motivating people, change agents, and forward-thinking individuals.  Your community will reap the rewards in short order. 

John Newby, Pineville, MO. is a nationally recognized publisher, community, business & media consultant, and speaker. He authors “Building Main Street, not Wall Street,” a column appearing in 50+ communities. The founder of Truly-Local, dedicated to assisting communities, create excitement, energy, and combining synergies with local media to become more vibrant and competitive. His email is:

Get In Touch