Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Get excited about 2012!

Heading into the last weekend of 2011 and the first of 2012, we will all take a break from talking about the weather in order to ask each other “got your New Year’s resolutions lined up?” Most people are happy to tell you that they don’t make any resolutions because they cannot keep them. I avoid resolutions, but I do set strong personal, business and financial goals each year.

The exercise of setting meaningful goals is only exciting and successful if you devote the proper amount of time to doing it right. A goal is an important accomplishment and is absolutely always achievable if you build in several incremental steps to getting to your end result. For example, four years ago when I set the goal to get a motorcycle there were 10 important steps (or sub-goals) that each led me closer to owning and riding my own bike. If I had set a major goal without the minor steps, I would still be wishing I had a motorbike! I needed to build in such factors as: where to find the money; what kind of bike would be best for me; when to order the bike to meet my timeline; how to learn to ride; how to earn a M driver’s license. Set specific timelines for each step, but be flexible when faced with the realities (but don’t delay your timelines out of procrastination or fear).

Not all my steps happened in the order I had them listed. There will be some things beyond your control in terms of sequence, but you will also be surprised at what steps can be achieved earlier than expected simply because you are conscious of a step and you recognize an opportunity to knock it off the list. I thought that I would be fully licensed before my bike arrived, but I spent the first season riding on just a learner’s and completed my road test a full year after getting my bike! The most important factor in accomplishing the goal I set was checking back to my list often. Each month I would see what steps were still remaining and figure out what I was able to do next to get one crossed off the list.

Another important motivator in achieving the steps to your goal is to tell people your intentions. My big mouth can be a gift and a curse because I enthusiastically tell people what I am going to do and then I feel obligated to follow through (because in a small town, you know very well people will ask you how that crazy pipe dream is coming along!) More than once I have heard myself saying “yes, I can do that” only to walk away wondering “what was I thinking?” But I have always followed through and proven to myself and others that I can achieve great goals with careful planning.

There will be goals you want to set that will scare you almost into mental paralysis – set them anyway. Each year when I look back at the goals I had set, I realize that I over-achieved some of them greatly (funny when I think of how nervous I was setting them). Last year when I arrived back from a solo trip to California and back, I got off the bike and walked up to the house thinking “I can’t believe I just rode to Cali and back by myself”. After the first year of purposeful goal-setting, I had the confidence to set more (and more aggressive) goals. Abraham Lincoln once said “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” When you sit down to write some goals for 2012, contemplate what you think your life should look like and then make the goals match the vision. It will happen for you almost automatically when you begin crossing off the accomplished steps and a year later you will look back and say “is that all there is to it?” Good luck. Have fun.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Varying Degrees of “Thank You”

I received a phone call recently from someone who wanted to express a general thank you for a community event that was appreciated, and it started me thinking about the effect that different degrees of gratitude have on me. I realized - without too much contemplation – that there are three distinct levels employed by us all and that they each invoke a directly proportionate reaction or feeling from the recipient.

Polite thank you – this is the socially minimal one we were all trained to use as a perfunctory method of accepting an item or service from someone with whom we do not share any particular bond. These are important that yous because they prevent us from being considered rude and they may enhance our service experience (if you fail to give one to the maitre’ d you may not have the opportunity to give one to the waiter!)

Deliberate thank you – such as the one I received when a kind citizen took time out of her day and made a point of calling to express her gratitude for something that impressed her to the point of reward. The giver generally wants to encourage a behavior so that it is repeated, and the recipient of such a deliberate gesture experiences a feeling of satisfaction (well, that just made my day!)

Profound thank you – I experienced this one for the first time while helping out at the Friendship Inn on Thanksgiving day. There is nothing like it and you can’t fully understand it until you feel it. To offer something (that is taken for granted by many) to someone who would otherwise not have it, to have someone thank you in a low voice that contains honest and deep sincerity…well, this kind of thank you might choke you up and make you want to do more.

Let’s use Christmas to begin releasing a lot more profound thank yous. In our community, we have daily opportunities to assist our neighbors who need us. Whether you have a few dollars for the Salvation Army kettle or a couple of hours to help deliver food hampers locally, I invite you to experience for yourself the powerful spirit of giving. And thanking.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Rural Way

Thumbing through the history book ‘A Tapestry of Time’ recently caused me to reflect on the circle of life and how I am now old enough to recognize certain cycles. The historic article that gave me pause was an account of how Spiritwood’s Centennial Arena was built and some of the fundraising toward the cost – this is the arena that we are now replacing with the new yet-to-be-named hockey and skating rink.

The most notable common factor between the 1967 version and the new arena (because it would not be fair to compare years to completion or cost) is that both facilities were only attainable with a great deal of volunteer labor. To leave every task to the paid general contractor and his crew would result in not only a prohibitive price tag but also an extended timeline during which two facilities would need to run con-currently because of a lengthy completion date.

A second strong and very obvious link between the old and new projects is the amount of money the citizens of the area have solicited through fundraising efforts. Indeed, many of the major contributors to the project of ’67 will doubtlessly have contributed to the project we will see at tomorrow’s first hockey game!

I stood inside our bright, beautiful new rink today in what I intended to be a visual evaluation, a construction update as I have done recently…and from the upstairs lounge area looking out at the gleaming ice and shiny boards, I was overcome with a profound sense of pride. This is the basic principle of the rural way of life – we did it together!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Community spirit!

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." This is a quote by Harry S. Truman, once a Captain in the US army who served in World War 1 and who ultimately went on to become President of the United States. He knew a thing or two about building communities, having come from a farming background and a small hometown.

Today, as I watched the community members come out to enjoy the annual Parade of Lights - a winter event that serves as a source of pride for those who participate in the frigid temperatures and biting north winds (and a source of amusement to those who watch from heated vehicles!) - it occurred to me how strong our community is because of both the active and the passive residents. As active residents who lead projects and events, we often wish for more helping hands. But we continue to dream our dreams and undertake daunting tasks to realize those dreams regardless. We are led through the journey of a project - sometimes year after year - because we want to give an experience or a facility or a certain standard of living to our neighbors and to our children. Perhaps we also work on achieving dreams we believe would make our ancestors proud, many who remain here only in our hearts - certainly we will not receive credit, but within us is borne a feeling of having honoured their teaching and we possess the knowledge that they would approve.

During the hard-work phase or the most challenging segment of our various undertakings, we feel isolated and we wonder if our efforts will be appreciated. When we look up and see the happy crowd turning out in numbers to enjoy the finale, calling to us with words of encouragement and support and well-wishes...we wave them off with a cheery smile and say "aw, it was fun - we had lots of help!" And we draw more spirit from our community.

Friday, December 2, 2011

December is here and there is no getting away from what that means: you are going to make a lot of shopping decisions this month! Since April of this year, I have made a conscious effort to make the majority of my purchases locally. I have had good success, but there are a few things I have learned along the way that can make shopping in my hometown easier and more successful. The first thing - which I learned early on - is that shopping locally requires a bit of planning and takes more time. For example, I want to fuel up my vehicle at home whenever possible. In the past, if I had a meeting or event in Saskatoon and only a quarter of a tank when I left home I would have to stop in another town to fill up. If I had a half tank of gas when leaving home, I would need to fill up in Saskatoon before returning home. This all changes when you deliberately shop locally. Now I need to plan ahead so that I will fuel up the vehicle the day prior (since leaving for a 9am meeting in Saskatoon means I leave home before the local gas stations open!) Having to slow down and plan properly means I can have someone else pump the gas for me (gas stations in our town are full-serve) and I certainly do not miss having to pump my own gas in the city (self-serve is the norm), standing at the pump for an eternity figuring out how to pre-pay because no one trusts eachother in the city!

Another valuable lesson I have learned is that if a store doesn't have the product I am looking for, in most instances all I have to do is ask. Thankfully, customer service in small-towns is generally greater than in the city and when the employees notice me standing in front of a shelf (concentrating rather than visiting) they say "Bevra, what can I help you find ?" Every time I have asked for a product I cannot find, the stores in my home town have ordered it in. This may not always happen in the city!

My favorite lesson learned while making the conscious decision to keep my money among business owners I know personally is this: I have found things here in Spiritwood that I previously assumed were not available here. Simply by promising myself that I would check the stores here first, I have discovered that there is very little that cannot be purchased without the added expense of a trip to the city. And I look forward to discussing that topic in a future blog post!

Friday, November 25, 2011


Welcome to NLEDC Presents!  This will be the place where you will find us posting articles and newsletter with anything related to business and community development. 
Economic Development is about more than just business.  It is about how to create a strong economy where there is a constant exchange of resources.  Products and services are offered and received, and monetary resources are exchanged.  Businesses meet the needs of customers, and consumers enjoy the benefits from the products and services provided.  This exchange trickles throughout the community through employment, additional spending, and around and around it goes. 

As the NLEDC matures, we will be working hard to bring you value and facilitate business relationships for the greater good of the area.    Our passion for business and ensuring that consumers have a positive experience within our region will shine through the articles and newsletters that you will read on this site. 

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