Dial it Down and Listen

Almost everyone I talk with says that the country is stuck in a phase of negative talk. We know some national figures need to dial it down. While it may seem daunting, we can help. We can take the initiative and speak up as individuals – talk to our state and national elected officials. (And, don’t forget to vote – it’s your right, privilege and responsibility!)

In the Valley, we can do more than dial it down – we can put a stop to divisiveness. We can dial down the negative rhetoric by choosing what we’re willing to listen to.

Effective leadership is all about listening. Listening to your constituents/clients, your colleagues and your own inner voice. You can lead from wherever you are. You don’t have to hold a leadership “position” – you can lead from your kitchen table. John Maxwell says, “A great leader’s courage . . . comes from passion, not position.” We can all learn to listen better.

It was fantastic to see so many folks turn out for the State of the Valley event last week. Coming together is our best hope of being sure our Valley is a place where we can tackle the core issues of poverty, hunger, housing, respectful use of our public lands, basic needs . . . and, yes, we can address climate change and the importance of water.

The key to a great future was summed up beautifully by County Commissioner, Jonathan Houck. Think about sitting in your car. Look up at your rearview mirror – it’s about 3 X 6 inches in size – and provides a way to glance at what’s behind. In front of you is an expansive windshield – and that’s what we look through to see what’s coming and where we can go. That’s a powerful image. The future is wide, right out in front of us and it’s ours to move into. Let’s move forward together.

While continuing to tackle the ever-growing list of “things that need to be done”, OVPP will move on to  developing the promised framework for regional collaboration. A framework that will allow us all to move forward in concert – for decades to come. That plan will, hopefully, include groundrules for civil dialogue around hard issues. It will take a deep commitment from current leaders, nonprofits, businesses, government and a host of community volunteers to create.

Changing habits isn’t easy. It’s essential, though, to work together to make changes through positive dialogue – which ultimately leads back to listening.  A lot of it. And creating safe spaces to share thoughts and opinions so that everyone knows they can be heard. Together we will co-create our Valleys’ next iteration as a place where we are comfortable, support each other in good times and bad – and where we celebrate together. Where we live out the OVPP values. A place that is inclusive, safe and caring.  Where people are engaged and connected to nature.  A place that espouses a simple lifestyle where we learn and celebrate one another and our families.

Differing opinions are as necessary as we challenge the status quo. Listening to one another – that’s the key to making the best decisions. To do that with ease, we need to embrace a framework that encourages collaborative, regional problem solving. My hope is that we do it with open minds and hearts. That we listen and learn. That we give and take. And, that we move forward together without divisive rhetoric. I’m no Pollyanna – but I honestly think it’s doable.

Donors:  Celebrate the Valley’s nonprofits with your generous gifts in this season of giving thanks.

Nonprofits:  Tackle your issues with an occasional glance in the rear view mirror and your focus on what you see through the windshield.

Community:  Commit to active listening, respectful dialogue, and creative problem solving – for the good of all.

Click here to give!