Replace the Hamster Wheel; Get Things Done

“Coffee is for closers” – Glengarry Glen Ross

I’m about to write an amazing sentence.

Ready?

Here it is….

At 35—a Methuselah like age for tennis– Roger Federer may be better than ever.

He won the prestigious Miami Open April 2 easily swatting away Rafael Nadal, whose game once bedeviled Fed and has notched a 19-1 record for the year including a perfect 7-0 against top ten opponents.

In February, 39-year-old Patriots QB Tom Brady led his team to another Super Bowl win which also happened to be the greatest comeback many fans had ever seen.

He has told teammates that he can see playing for another 5-7 years.

Charo is killing it on Dancing With the Stars at an advanced age—ok that’s stretching it— but you get the point.

Age is not a barrier to achieving great things. In fact, it may be an advantage. Maturity certainly is a huge edge.

Federer has talked about playing with a joy and a looseness that has enabled him to get great results.

Samantha Bee, a late night TV comedian, says the key to her success is that she and her team have entered the “I don’t care what you think about me” years. As a result, they are just going to hang it out there.

I find it all inspiring.

Especially as my friend and I  approach my so-called dotage (hmmm…perhaps we can change that word from dotage to do-age, i.e. the age in which we apply our hard earned experience and get things done).

Yes the millennials are here and they are awesome–I’ve raised a few–and they are changing the world but don’t write off the boomers just yet.

Delray just elected two energetic boomers and one could argue that they–not the young (er) ones on the dais–are the ones brimming with ideas and ambition; the ones willing to try new things and new approaches to government and leadership.

Bravo!

An open mind is the key to progress in just about any endeavor including building great places to live and work. When leaders are willing to make some strategic bets and create a culture of learning good things happen. You kick off a virtuous cycle and attract talent.

Consequently, when you don’t make decisions and you slam experiments, you inhibit risk and you snuff out innovation. In a world that’s increasingly driven by speed and has become hypercompetitive you simply can’t afford complacency and rust.

In Delray Beach, the recent election turned on openness to new ideas and the need to change what more and more people are recognizing as a negative culture that has bred indecision, instability and frustration. The symptoms are unmistakable: lawsuits, staff turnover and issues that go on and on and on and on draining the community of investment and enthusiasm.

The ‘let’s get things done’ message resonated with voters who want to go move forward not back. Those candidates won by margins of two to one. That’s a mandate: a mandate to move forward, stop kvetching, seize opportunities and fix problems. It is not a mandate to throw out the rules and overdevelop. But it is a strong directive to fill the done box and stop the nonsense.

As a result, there’s an interesting relationship that can potentially take shape between elected officials like Shirley Johnson and Jim Chard and open minded creatives of all ages who seek to do radical things like create jobs, grow the tax base, bring new industries to Delray and create vibrancy and a sense of place and community.

There are a slew of entrepreneurs and a lot of energy in Delray these days and it’s very exciting. They have been attracted as a result of the work done over decades by scores of civic entrepreneurs. We should have a lot of civic pride in what’s been achieved and more importantly what’s in front of us if we loosen up and go for it—like Roger Federer crushing a backhand down the line. He doesn’t always make the shot, but he always takes it. As Wayne Gretzky once said: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

I’m fortunate that my life’s work has enabled me to get to know some of these emerging leaders who are finding inspiration in Delray Beach. They are excited by the new leadership and hopeful for the future.

They see Vice Mayor Chard and Deputy Vice Mayor Johnson as open-minded change agents, willing to listen and learn.

The best elected officials are community builders who see possibilities. The worst are hand wringers who manufacture controversy, douse ambition and see a bogeyman behind every idea.

If you take offense at that statement; I’m sorry I don’t mean to offend you but perhaps you ought to look in the mirror and do some self-examination. Do it quick though, because time waits for no one—(sang Mick Jagger still rocking and having babies in his 70s) and the one thing you can count on in life –other than death and taxes– is change.

Delray was built on risk taking.

Flexible codes that allowed a downtown with a human scale to take root

Conditional use that enabled infill development and adaptive reuse

And;

Public private partnerships that have given us projects like Old School Square, the Arts Garage, the Community Land Trust and yes even iPic.

Yep, we’re still talking about iPic a third of the way through 2017. The topic has been kicking around since the  original Hunger Games opened and was screened at the Boca iPic (there have been two sequels since)– but still no theater in Delray. Sigh..

Is iPic “corporate welfare”?

In a word, no.

Corporate welfare is when a company rings you up and says give me money or we will take our company to another state, county or city.

But when you ask a corporation to go above and beyond your code or the scope of an RFP and they ask for assistance it’s not called welfare (defined as “government-provided support for those unable to support themselves”) it’s called a partnership. And if you think the RFP was “flawed” so be it, time didn’t begin on your watch and it’s easy to be a Monday Morning Quarterback. The facts are the RFP attracted four good bids coming off a crushing recession–and now as a result of a terrific CRA we have a chance to land jobs, downtown entertainment and put a derelict property back on the tax rolls. If you want the deal, you make it happen. You iron out the problems and you drive it. Period. That’s leadership.

Are the terms good? Is the deal fair? Is it a win-win scenario?

All fair questions to ask and answer.

But when “requests” or “demands” are made as a condition of approval, it’s OK for those on the receiving end to counter with an offer. It’s called negotiations.

And folks, if applicants are unable to negotiate then we don’t have a system that enables compromise, progress or finality-we have something else entirely; a place where nobody will want to do business or make investments.

Think that’s an unfair assessment? A stretch?

Guess again.

Because as we have seen on other projects—even when you follow the rules and agree to dozens and dozens of conditions— you can still find yourself delayed, denied and despised.

That’s no way to run a railroad.

So how do we get from Federer and Brady to Delray politics?

Easy.

Maturity.

The veterans who succeed do so because they are seasoned leaders. They don’t panic when they are getting pounded in the first half or when they face Match Points (Match Point, that’s the subject of a future column) they adjust.

And they figure out a way to win not whine.

 

 

 

Speak Your Mind

*