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Any “This Is Us” fans out there?  If not, you should be.  If so, I hope you’ve had the chance to rehydrate and replace your tear supply while the Olympics have been occupying your time.  The truth is, whether you’ve watched or not, you’ve probably heard about the dreaded Crock-Pot incident.  Spoiler Alert: The Pearson family’s Crock-Pot caught on fire.  And, with the fierce love that the world has for the Pearsons, everyone started hating on the Crock-Pot bigtime.  Literally, boycotting it’s use!  Not since the invention of New Coke have so many people been so against something so quickly.  In fact, it took This Is Us hunk, Milo Ventimiglia, showing up during a Super Bowl commercial, pushing the hashtag #thecrockpotisinnocent to calm things down. He became a brief spokesman for Crock-Pot in a last-ditch effort to save the slow cooker industry and all those whose retirement is heavily vested in the Crock-Pot stock (NL) that sank 25% overnight–almost faster than the Pearson’s faulty time-saver went up in smoke.

Like easy-on-the-eyes Milo, I’m also a fan of the Crock-Pot.  Recently, after a long day at work, I came home to the aroma of a hot pot roast dinner filling the air.  It was such a hectic day that I had completely forgotten that I left the trusty Crock-Pot on low and filled with a beef, onions, potatoes, and carrots before I left for work.  So, I walked in the door wondering what we’re going to do for a dinner plan, quickly smelled that dinner was ready, and suddenly remembered that I was the one who had actually cooked that dinner!  As Clark Griswold said to Cousin Eddie in Christmas Vacation, If I woke up tomorrow morning with my head sewn to the carpet I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am right now.”  I literally surprised myself!

There’s something to be said about slow and steady winning the race.  There’s even more to be said about planning your work and working your plan.  Add in a dash of leveraging the tools you have so, you can work smarter instead of harder and the trifecta might leave you as pleasantly surprised as it left me.

Crock-Pot defined ‘working smarter instead of harder’ again tonight as two late work schedules brought my husband and me home to a couple of unbelievable, fall-off-the-bone, Cornish Hens.  I’m telling you, it’s like a magic meal-making time machine!

Alas, there is a plot twist!  What if we scrapped these dinner plans and made real plans by applying my newly created Crock-Pot Theorem to making our community a better place for those we love the most?  I think Pythagoras himself would be impressed.  See what you think…

Step #1:  Like your Crock-Pot, it’s always best to utilize the tools that you readily have at your disposal.  These include your personal gifts, talents, and abilities as well as the abundant assets and resources accessible to you.  For instance, the City of Marion has a 2030 Comprehensive Plan that was written and passed by the Common Council in 2010.  True, it’s eight-years-old, but there are a multitude of amazing ideas held within—many which haven’t been accomplished yet.

Step #2:  Just like the tortoise and the hare, and the entire premise behind the Crock-Pot, slow and steady wins the race.  Sure, a 2030 plan sounds like it’s thinking too far into the future.  But, the reality is that we’re closer to 2030 than we are to 2000.  <<mind blown>> And, in twelve years we’ll be twelve years older–whether we act now or not.  Might as well work as efficiently and effectively as possible while we take these trips around the sun.

Step #3:  Every winning coach in the history of time has known the importance of a good game plan.  Knowing your end game, beginning with the end in mind as Stephen Covey called it in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, is the first step to winning life’s Super Bowl.  As the old adage goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there”.  Let’s face it, we’ve tried that, and it doesn’t work.  Our community deserves better.  Our future leaders deserve better.  The next generation deserves.  We deserve better. It’s halftime in Grant County and we’ve got a game to win.

Sadly, our macro problems don’t have microwave solutions—but they do have solutions, if we all work together using the Crock-Pot Theorem.  And, I guess it’s fair to admit, even with long-term strategy, good intentions, and leveraged resources, it’s still going to be demanding work.  Perhaps that’s why John F. Kennedy said, We choose to go to the moon.  Not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard.”

In the end, the Grant County story is ours to write and ours to tell.  It’s our choice how that story reads.  Perhaps if we change, our home will change, our neighborhood will change, our community will change, and our county will change.

If we could only microwave the solutions to our challenges and enjoy some instant gratification.  Then again, I’ve never been satisfied by eating a Hot Pocket, have you?  This is about a new approach.  This is about testing out the Crock-Pot Theorem.  This is the home-cooked meal concept vs. stale pizza.  This is how we fall in love with our county again.  This is how we will plan for our future.  This is our chance to rediscover the community that has given us fond memories.  This is our time.  This is us.

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