Sunday, July 12, 2009

Making Change

I was on the road A LOT the past 4 days and I had several occasions to stop along the way to rejuvenate. On one of these stops in a town I can't even remember, I got an ice cream cone at McDonald's. The grand total was $1.06. I gave the young lady at the register $5.11 (I have a thing about carrying around too many coins in my handy-dandy little clutch). My mistake was waiting to find the 11 cents until after she had already punched "$5" into the register.

She was stopped.

What odd combination of coins was I handing her when the total was clearly $1.06? And what was she going to do now that she had already punched in the $5 amount? I helped her out of the predicament by whispering the correct change and dropping the extra nickel into the box they have for Ronald McDonald charities and went on my way.

But I got to thinking, why should she have been able to figure out the change? When are people - of any age, really - encouraged to "make change"?

We've become a society of people committed to "The Man" even though in our break rooms and with our best friends we complain about it. When given the opportunity to actually DO something, how many of us even know what that means? If the cash register doesn't ring up $4.05," what are we supposed to think?

I just finished (again) Seth Godin's book Tribes (which I have conveniently located on my Kindle I - there are costs and benefits to being an early adopter!) and am inspired all over again to become a tribe leader, even if no one is there to follow.

Among my activities over these past 4 days was working with a group of community leaders from small towns around the 5-state area of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota and Wisconsin who are committed to making a difference for their rural areas. They have stepped up to the plate to become tribe leaders and are finding that that's not always an easy place to be.

Rural communities don't generally embrace change, so the task of many of these leaders isn't necessarily an easy one.

But when groups come together to learn and to practice new thinking skills, they find that they don't have to forge the trail on their own. Learning and sharing from others in similar situations can provide the needed momentum for making change ... and making change stick.

So thanks, rural leaders, and also Seth Godin. I'm inspired to make change in my own community. I'm starting this Wednesday, July 15, by holding space for people to gather with no other agenda than to create community (whatever that means to people who are inspired to come). We will meet at Atomic Coffee in downtown Fargo at 7 p.m. and create something inspiring ... or not. Whoever comes is the right people and whatever happens will be the only thing that could have.

I'm confident that the change will be made exactly as it needs to be.


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