The famous college football coach, Lou Holtz once said, “Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” While traveling last week, I noticed a sign in a small local retail establishment that conveyed what I believe creates the heart and soul of local communities. The sign read, “When you support a local small business, you’re supporting a local dream”. When I read this sign coupled with Coach Holtz’s quote, I thought how the two come together. Local businesses can have capability and motivation, but it really takes a community dream-supporting attitude to assure these local dreams indeed come true.
I once had a college professor ask, “What is the difference between creative people and non-creative people?” After hearing several responses, all of which may have had a morsel of truth, he stated the difference between creative and non-creative people are creative people believe they are creative while non-creative people don’t feel that way.
When I chat with vibrant and transformative communities, there is a common element permeating through the community; that element is confidence and belief. They have a winning attitude and expect to experience success, they in essence believe they are creative and will over-come any obstacle to win and succeed. Likewise, when I chat with communities still trying to find their transformative way, they tend to view the obstacles as unclimbable mountains and have little confidence in their abilities to overcome adversity. I find this not only in the various communities, but in their business base as well.
This brings us back to the signage I noticed in the little local shop. No matter how hard they work and are motivated, their success still remains in the hands of the local community and what they believe they can accomplish. Thus, the importance of a local community having a winning attitude and a belief they will win. Thus, the importance of community leadership instilling confidence and winning attitudes not just at the leadership level, but throughout the entire community. Great leaders such as Lou Holtz knew the power of the mind, he knew that great things can be achieved with the right attitude. He knew the sum of the individual parts is always exceeded by the total accomplishments of the entire team.
When we discuss leadership, we must not assume all is well if we have a great leader. While a great leader is a great start, it takes a leader with the willingness and capability of spreading a winning vision to all levels of government and community. It takes those second line leaders pushing the mission to all the organizations and groups within the community. It then is followed by the entire community catching the vision of what can be. When the community truly catches the vision of transformation and what is needed to accomplish transformation, they have the power to make dreams of local businesses and entrepreneurs come true.
We have discussed the need for the local community to help these dreams come true. But, make no mistake, for this to happen, local business owners must have more than ability, work ethic and motivation. Businesses must still provide what consumers want at times convenient to the local consumer. The success of local businesses depends not just on the consumer, but the willingness for both to meet at a point fitting the business and the consumer. A great example is store hours. As I was walking through this community full of hungry shoppers, I couldn’t help but notice many of the local businesses closed between 5:00-5:30PM. When statistically nearly 70% of all business transactions take place after 5:00PM, closing at 5:00 or 5:30PM on a busy day isn’t meeting the consumer halfway.
The state of Michigan has a branding slogan known as “Pure Michigan.” While not advocating you steal Michigan’s idea, I am advocating you adopt this internal attitude towards your community and local businesses. The power of a community working together is far greater than the sum of each individual entity trying to succeed on their own, which never ends well.
John A. Newby, author of the "Building Main Street, Not Wall Street " column and CEO of Truly-Local, LLC. dedicated to assisting communities create excitement, energy and combine synergies with their local media where local is often lost to the Internet and out-of-town owned companies. His email: john@360MediaAlliance.net