Monthly Archives: November 2014

“Daring Greatly” in Gaston County

Imagine that you are seated in the audience for an orchestral performance when, after a brief start, the conductor stops, speaks briefly to a few startled musicians, resumes his stance at the podium and with arms outspread with baton in hand, delivers a downbeat that results in the most breath-taking, awe-inspiring performance you have ever heard!  Years later – do you remember the soul-stirring performance? Or do you remember the uncomfortable beginning? If you remember the need to re-start the performance, does your memory allow you to view it as the conductor having courage to make that bold move?

How can we build a world that would value the stunning performance or at the very  least, value the courage to start over?  To bring it closer to home, how do we build a culture in our county where leadership does not require perfection? How do we become a county that would applaud the effort and the ultimate delivery of success, despite a false-start or two?   The answer to these questions might just be the first steps in overcoming our leadership drought.

Of late, I find myself a student of Brené Brown, PhD, in particular her book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead.

In the book Dr. Brown makes the case that modern media has contributed to a culture of scarcity, where no one is  ________ enough (insert the word you most closely relate to – beautiful, strong, smart, talented, rich, powerful, influential, etc.).

Living day to day with the feeling of never being enough drives uncertainty and emotional exposure.  We may or may not put on armor to protect us but we certainly do not put ourselves ‘out there’ or make ourselves vulnerable.  We certainly do not step up and take the lead.

Can we make strides to overcome a culture of scarcity?  Can we become a county that abhors scarcity and ‘dares greatly’?  Can we become a community where there is victory in trying even if there is no success, success is delayed, or success requires several attempts?

I answer, “YES!” and issue the following challenge.  Let’s join forces to identify leadership potential and to those individuals, pledge our unconditional support.  We will offer to mentor, pick them up should they fall, coach them through challenges, forgive missteps, honor a request for help and allow them to start over on their road to awe-inspiring leadership.

We can be the community that does not use shame as a tool because we value engagement, need leadership and recognize that success is never a guarantee.  We will support those who engage, those who lead.  We will dare greatly and inspire others to dare greatly. In so doing, we will become not only individuals who aspire to a life of wholeheartedness but a community with a heart.

In closing, I leave you with words of Theodore Roosevelt that inspired Dr. Brown (and yours truly) hoping that you find inspiration as well:

It is not the critic who counts;
not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,

or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly:
who errs, who comes short again and again.
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;
but who does actually strive to do the deeds;
who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions;
who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,
so that his place shall never be with those cold
and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.

                                                    -Theodore Roosevelt


Dr. Ann Hoscheit
Chair, Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services                                                      Chair-elect, Gaston Regional Chamber






I have always believed organizations should measure and update progress- then share with the community. So, with that in mind, here goes:

1. Our first newsletter was sent April 2. Since then a total of eleven articles have been published. All are sent via e-mail on the first and third Wednesdays.

2. All articles are written by highly qualified local leaders who are excellent writers.

3. We have addressed eleven important issues right here in Gaston County.

4. Thirty-five writers have either already written, are scheduled to publish, or are on our list to write at the appropriate time.

5. Lisa Boggs, owner of Boggs Marketing Group, LLC is helping. She reports reader “openings “since our beginning have been as high as 68% (the industry average is 17%!)

6. Our e-mail list has increased from 282 to 605. Goal: 1,000.

Want to add someone’s name to our list? Please do. Just let me know.

We have now accumulated eighty-six topics that seem to merit addressing as we continue to seek more topics of high interest.

Continuous improvement is very important so tell us what you think we should know.

Thank you.

Bill Seabrook

Looking Through Broken Windows

Edward Deming led the application of root cause analysis to the quality movement in manufacturing through continuous process improvement. The process uses root cause analysis tools to determine what happened and why it happened and to identify and implement a solution to reduce the likelihood that the problem will occur again. The resulting solution either addresses a physical cause such as a material or machine failure; a human cause as a consequence of doing something wrong or not doing something that needed to be done; or an organizational cause in which a system, process, or policy used to make decisions or do work is faulty.

Our approach to medical issues is the easiest framework to understand the difference between symptoms and root causes. Usually before seeking treatment, we self-medicate to relieve the symptoms or try to ignore the symptoms with great hope that they will clear up and go away.  Only when there is no relief or the symptoms and/or pain worsens do we seek the root cause answer.  The pain medications and other remedies help us manage the symptoms so we can continue the requirements of life- breathing, moving, loving, working, learning, growing, succeeding.

Identifying and addressing the root causes of community and social issues is exponentially more complicated. The number of organizations and the amount of time, energy and funds invested in addressing the symptoms- poverty, unemployment, welfare abuse, school dropouts, apathy; etc., that have yielded only pockets of success after decades are hard evidence that we are at best managing the symptoms or at worst managing to live with the resulting pain.  Digging deeper to find and address root causes requires patience, time, energy and resources.  Most of which are painfully limited when the community comes together to resolve a long term, continuing problem.

Noted anthropologist, Margaret Mead stated that we should “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  So, why are we falling short?  Why are we meeting ten and twenty years later and still discussing how to reduce or eliminate the same issues and new ones created by the old issues?  Perhaps we have not been digging deep enough.  Studies of psychology and human behavior tell us that all behavior is logical.   Behavior results from a thought.  If we want to change the behavior we must change the thought driving the behavior.  Perhaps this is where we pull back to manage the less complicated symptoms.  The enormity of the task can be overwhelming and there is a reluctance to interfere in the choices of others even when we are negatively impacted by the consequences of those choices.

In his book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell describes the point at which ideas, messages, or behaviors of a population change rapidly.  Similar to an epidemic, contagious behavior is caused by a relatively small percentage of the population.  He argues that it is not necessary to change everyone, only a small percentage of the population to affect change.  As an example Gladwell cites the Broken Windows theory developed by James Q. Wilson and George Kelling and implemented by New York City in response to the alarming crime rate.  According to the theory if a window is broken and left unrepaired then people walking by will assume no one cares and no one is in charge.  Then Mayor Rudi Giuliani and Police Chief William Bratton viewed graffiti, public disorder, and aggressive panhandling as equivalents to broken windows.  New York was messy and people were contributing to the “messiness.”  They determined that was the root cause of crime in New York City. The “messiness” was addressed at the basic levels and the crime rates dropped precipitously.

What messages are our “broken windows” sending? How do we look through them to find and eliminate the root causes of the “messiness” in our community and create a tipping point for change?

Loretta P Dodgen, Ed. D.

President, Multiple Choice, Inc.