13 Oct Energy Vampires
It’s getting close to Halloween. How can I tell? Well, my 8 year-old niece keeps offering to do small chores around our house if we agree to pay her in Hershey bars. Deal! (Her parents may not be aware of this arrangement; it may be best—for me and her– to keep it that way, if you don’t mind.) This is one reason why Katie loves to come and visit the Community Foundation; Halloween or not, we have a year-round Candy Bar. It’s a unique way to interact with donors and county visitors when they walk in to drop off donations, mail, or simply to learn more about Grant County. One donor comes in several times a month instead of mailing her donations. She said her husband likes it when she picks up some “sweets for her sweetie”. We ran into another donor at lunch who said he was going to be stopping by soon and hoped we would have his favorite York Peppermint Patties when he came by. (Meagan ran over to CVS right after lunch and we were ready when he came in to make his donation a few days later.) Our little Candy Bar is just part of an overall philosophy of (a) being easy to do business with and (b) delighting our customers. It’s amazing how small gestures can turn something ordinary into something extraordinary. And, it helps to keep a little garlic handy to ward off the Energy Vampires.
I learned about Energy Vampires in a book I recently read called The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy by Jon Gordon and Ken Blanchard. Early on in the book Gordon tells the tale of young man traveling to a village seeking wise counsel. This man says to the wise one, “I feel like there are two dogs inside me. One dog is positive, loving, kind and optimistic and then I have this fearful, pessimistic, angry and negative dog and they fight all the time. I don’t know who is going to win.” This man of great wisdom thinks for a moment and insightfully says, “I know who is going to win. The one you feed the most. So feed the positive dog.” The one you feed the most! Brilliant! And it’s true. Every single day we make a choice, don’t we?
Now, I’m not saying the choice is easy; I’m just saying that the choice is ours. Yet, even though we know this and often try our best to feed the positive dog, life happens. We decide to be a positive influence and proactively problem-solve. We strive to be solution-oriented, forward-moving, difference-making and that’s when Energy Vampires strike.
If you love our community (and if you’re reading this blog, I bet you do) Gordon gives some great ideas about how to prevent Energy Vampires (EV’s) from stealing your positive energy so you can get on with the work of making amazing things happen. You see, it’s the negative energy that EV’s have that suffocates all things positive. Perhaps they’ve just been feeding their negative dog for too long. So, I wonder what would happen if we tried to understand them, love them, and fill them with positive energy? It won’t always make a difference and many EV’s won’t change, but like Mother Teresa once said, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.” It’s worth a shot.
There’s no doubt that negative energy can sabotage progress. We see this in sports all the time. But, we also see it where we live, work, play, and pray. So, remember what Ghandi said and don’t let anyone walk through your mind with their dirty feet. Instead use positive energy as the antidote. Gordon has a simple rule for this, “Your positive energy must be greater than all the negativity.” That positive energy fosters quality communication and an overall proactive culture. Besides, everyone knows that vampires hate the light!
So, why is this primer on Energy Vampires important now? Because the fact that Grant County is #1 in child poverty hasn’t changed. The work that it will take to develop a shared vision to make a collective impact is something that people are looking for, something that people are talking about, something we would miss if it doesn’t happen. That kind of work isn’t for everyone. But, it is for us.
We at the Community Foundation are working hard to ensure that the remaining $300,000 that Lilly has offered our Community Impact Fund receives its $1 for $1 match that’s required. We won’t leave their funding on the table for another community to take…we can’t afford that. So, we continue to talk to and work with other community leaders to determine where our collective impact will begin. In the meantime, we continue to seek donors to finish out this matching campaign so we can put those funds to work immediately.
Sure, some days it will be hard. We may feel like our best work isn’t good enough or temporarily lose hope. But, we promise that we’ll show up every day. We’ll keep our commitment to improve the quality of life for our kids and our future. And one day at a time, the work will happen. We’ll continue to invest the dollars you have generously given to make this community one in which we can all can be proud. And our goal will be to see this community, Grant County, as it could be. One of my faves, Seth Godin says, “It’s impossible to do important innovation in any field with your arms crossed and a scowl on your face.” In other words, Energy Vampires need not apply.