Take your time and do it right

Published 8:54 pm Tuesday, July 30, 2013

So you retired, sold your home and moved to one of our fine communities in Polk County to live out your dream retirement.

Now you want to involve yourself in politics and use your immense life experiences in leading your neighbors and friends into the future. Some advice:  slow down, spend some time learning about the history, culture and the reason things are done the way they are done. Take about 10 years volunteering and watching how and why things really work and then you might be ready.

It is a good thing to have lots of experience to share and want to help others in your new home. I’ve got news for you though. Your immense life experiences and thoughts about how things should be done are of almost no value to Polk County until you’ve learned what you need to know first.

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Lifelong residents of this area have seen and understand more about life, politics, nature and the world than most folks that live in rural America or in some isolated urban city. The cultural diversity and history of this place is rich and you need to understand it before you do anything. It is what it is because of a complex socio-cultural evolutionary process that most can’t or won’t get until they’ve spent more than a couple of years immersed in and appreciating its history.

Here are a few things I can offer from someone who has been proud to call this place home for 34 years.

1. That local gentleman or lady that talks funny, slowly and has a small vocabulary is smarter than you are when it comes to this area. Ever hear the phrase “educated beyond your intelligence”? All of us transplants fit this category for a while. Wisdom comes from living life at its basic level and that local person is your “wisdom superior” when it comes to this area. They have a wealth of knowledge and wisdom to share if you’ll stop and listen.

2. The “Peter Principle” will soon set you up for failure. If you managed to find yourself in a leadership position after only being here for three, four or five years, you are setting yourself up for failure. Worse yet, you could lose the respect of your new neighbors because you start saying and doing things that are disrespectful. Disrespect is an unforgivable sin. Disrespect will yield disrespect and first impressions are hard to overcome.

3. One of the worst things you can say is “Back in (pick your own city), it was done such and such way.” The implications behind this statement are too complicated to explain here, but it is disrespectful to those that have worked hard to get us to where we are today. Where we are today is probably a big reason why you picked this area to live in.

4. Change has its own agenda. Over the last 40 years or so there has been this mistaken notion that an individual person can drive change. Nonsense.
Change has its own agenda and the forces in change are almost too many to count or know. There are people that have been there at the right time, but they didn’t create that time. They just happened to be there and rose to the occasion. All fools know the fruit will ripen; the wise man/woman knows when it’s ripe.

5. Be patient.