Reaching for Your Community’s Highest Potential


We received a frustrated email earlier this week, from the leader of a community organization. The Community-Driven message was so clearly articulated that the note could have easily been penned by one of the graduates of our Community-Driven Consulting course.

“I have been frustrated with providing the services that we provide, although they are good programs that clearly benefit the participants. The frustration stems from the fact that the programs may be good, but they will not fundamentally change the conditions that exist in our community.”

“I want a model that empowers people to change the future and not just be victims of their past. We need to challenge people to question many basic assumptions that influence the behavior that needs to change for there to be a realignment in the values in our community.  What questions will challenge the very framework people exist within?  Even an asset based approach does not challenge what we believe we are capable of achieving and does not force us to reinvent systems that weren’t designed to empower us.”

The key, as this frustrated organizational leader clearly presents, is not about what we “do.” The key is first and foremost about the thinking that goes into the doing.

From The Pollyanna Principles:

“Moving beyond the path we have been walking, and consciously choosing to take a different road, can be compared to any major life change.  In our personal lives, we can either lose weight by trying a fad diet, or we can instead focus on living a healthy life for the long term.  For a true life change to occur, we need to change our thoughts.  From those changed thoughts, we then need to change our habits.

“But the thinking comes first.

“When we change our actions without first changing our thoughts, we flit from fad diet to fad diet.  When we change our assumptions and expectations, though, we not only lose weight; we become healthy overall.

“To date, as community organizations have tried to accomplish more, they have leaned toward the fad diet end of the spectrum: the latest fundraising or governance fad, the latest planning fad.  Not surprisingly, like dieting, our organizations have not grown more healthy, and neither have our communities.

“Here is what we know about creating lasting behavioral change:

From thoughts to Actions

Buddha said, “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts.”

So what is your own organization thinking?  What thoughts, assumptions, expectations are guiding your own work?  Are you expecting to work towards your community’s highest potential?  And if not, what will it take for today to be the day you take that first step – changing your assumptions and expectations, to begin creating the future of your community?

Read The Pollyanna Principles and change your thinking (and your doing) right now – because your community is counting on you!

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