Transformation Requires Elimination, even Death!

A quote by Robin Sharma goes as follows, “Yes, your transformation will be hard. Yes, you will feel frightened, messed up, and knocked down. Yes, you’ll want to stop. Yes, it’s the best work you’ll ever do.” Let me mirror that sentiment and say, restoration, transformation, and revitalization is some of the most exciting work a community can undertake. In today’s economic climate, transformation is a must. Removing obstacles to transformation is even more critical.

For a community to achieve transformational success, just as important as the new initiatives they implement is the ability to eliminate issues standing in the way. The last thing you need is more on your plate than you can handle, and nothing gets accomplished effectively.  You may need to remove a few things, here is a starter list.

Eliminate short-term thinking – The most successful communities have ultimate long-term goals and strategies that determine their direction. All their short-term thinking then feeds into long-term goals and strategies.  They understand their long-term goals then determine their short-term thinking and habits.  The wrong set of habits are destructive to achieving their goals and objectives. Long term thinking and habits shouldn’t be something you just do, they must be something you embrace as a community within your DNA.

Give up thinking small – Your community must think BIG!  Too many communities don’t have the courage to think big. Historically, the largest successes ever experienced are those derived from big ideas.  Many communities have experienced defeat for so long they no longer believe in themselves.  They create small-minded, easy to reach goals they deem safe so that they won’t be viewed as failing.  This reflects the small mindedness of the community. If you don’t believe in your downtown, your ‘defeated attitude’ is the community’s problem. Communities all over the country are proving the ‘defeated attitude’ is simply a narrow-minded albatross holding them back from gaining greater heights. It has been said, you never make a shot you don’t take. Dare to dream and dare to achieve.

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

Give up a fixed mindset – Communities with fixed mindsets might think their futures are pre-determined and cannot be changed.  Successful communities must invest an immense amount of time, effort, and resources to change traditional mindsets by educating themselves and the pubic with new mindsets, outlooks, and skills.

Give up on the silver bullet – While we all want silver bullets, those are hard to find when it comes to building communities. Revitalizing a downtown, or community for that matter takes years of painstaking effort. Successful communities understand making 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.

Give up your perfectionism – Remember, perfect is the enemy of great!  Great is the enemy of good! Understand change and transformation are never clean and clear. Change can be very hard and even ugly.  Act knowing that change won’t be perfect.  Don’t fret, keep moving forward, and correct along the way. Beware of naysayers always focused on the negative and the less than perfect initiatives that will pop up – negativity is a cancer to the community.  Nothing is ever perfect, no matter how hard you try.

Most critical, remove toxic people – Albert Einstein said, Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution” Toxic people must be ignored, marginalized, and removed. You know who they are. 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 is a nationally recognized Columnist, Publisher, Community, Business, Media, Strategic Consultant & Speaker. His “Building Main Street, not Wall Street,” column is enjoyed by 60+ communities around the country. As founder of Truly-Local, he assists community and business leaders in building synergies that create vibrant communities. He can be reached at:

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