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8-track Tapes

8-track Tapes

You’ve heard that old saying that cleaning your house while you have kids is like shoveling while it’s snowing, right?  Anyone with kids will tell you this is true.  In fact, we used to have a plaque in our home that read, “Excuse the mess, our kids are making memories”.  When I was a kid, my mom reserved Saturdays for cleaning—and it was a team sport.  She’d pop an 8-track (yes, I just typed 8-track) tape in the stereo and our entire family would jam out to Leo Sayer or Tom Jones as we whistled while we worked.  To this day, those songs are stuck in my head—since mom was a move-all-the-furniture-and-sweep-under-it-kind-of-housekeeper, it took several songs before we were done!  It was all hands on deck as the mess from the week of school and work chaos disappeared one song at a time.

Recently, a friend a mine asked me what our method was to keep the house clean when our boys were little, since they are now in the midst of lots of kids and lots of stuff. Let’s just say, although my mom taught me well, I am not the housekeeper that she is.  But, the method to our madness was “The 15-Minute Clean”.  When the clutter become too much, we’d stop everything we were doing and the entire fam would clean like maniacs for 15-minutes. It was just what we needed to bring life back into balance again.  With the four of us, I counted that as a full-hour of house cleaning.  Sure, the baseboards didn’t get dusted, but the disorder disappeared as we deployed our full family resources all at the same time.  So, when our kids moved out, we assumed these 15-minutes clean-ups would be a part of our past.  My husband and I even laughed a bit wondering how embarrassing it would be if we had blamed our messy house on the boys all these years, only to find out it was really us.  I won’t admit guilt here, but there have been more than a few times that our dryer looked like it was vomiting clothes that had quickly been pulled halfway out, but not folded.

It’s not uncommon for families to deploy all our resources to make something happen.  It could be cleaning the house, making a dinner, or pulling off a big party.  With a soldier in the family now, deployment has a completely different meaning—one that makes me proud and cry at the same time.  I love how Merriam-Webster defines deploy:

Definition of deploy
transitive verb

1 To place in battle formation or appropriate positions
2 To spread out, utilize, or arrange for a deliberate purpose

Of course, it lists the obvious definition; the one that apparently causes my allergies to act up.  But, it’s the second definition that caught my attention today:  to spread out, utilize, arrange for a deliberate purpose.

That’s really what a community foundation does.  We have nearly 400 charitable funds spread out over a variety of amazing causes.  We make grants every week from these funds, so grantees can utilize the donations to serve people and further their missions.  This is important to note since our donors are extremely deliberate about what causes they love and what purposes they’d like to fund.  Essentially, the Foundation is deploying our financial resources out into the community.  Like the Army, our deployments have to be well thought out, intentional, and with an end goal in mind.  It’s work we are all proud to do daily for the betterment of Grant County.

In addition to deploying dollars strategically, we have also been a part of many exciting developments in Grant County where our greatest asset, our people, have been mobilizing like we’re on a mission.  And, we are.  We have been coordinating our efforts, communicating our plans, and cultivating our relationships.  While we hone our strategy, we’re strengthening our culture. This is of paramount importance since a positive culture is never an accident.  If Peter Drucker is right, and I think he is, then “culture eats strategy for breakfast”.  Now, strategy is nice, don’t get me wrong—but, strategy is textbook.  Sure, it takes brains and bravado, but every community has those two ingredients.  They don’t all have a quality culture.  Culture.  Culture is a different animal. It’s much harder to develop a healthy, vibrant culture.  But, if you have one, or are building toward one, it’s nearly impossible to beat.  And if you can combine a steadfast strategy with a constructive culture, the opportunities that await are only limited by your creativity.

It’s common sense.  We all know this.  We learned it back when we were listening to Leo Sayer, Michael Jackson, Hank Williams, Jr., or Taylor Swift while we mowed, mopped, made beds, and mated socks.  We deployed our resources and got things done.  You might even be laughing a bit, wondering how embarrassing it would be if you had blamed our community challenges on others all these years, only to find out you were at fault, too.  And, if it were only about strategy, that theory might just work.  But, it’s about more than that—it’s about culture.  Our collective culture.  Fraternities and sororities know this.  The Pacers and the Colts know this. And, yes, the military knows this—they know it well.  Good strategy takes us from 8-track tapes to Spotify playlists. Good culture is the music itself.

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