Every town has that thing, that negative thing, that happened. “Everything was fine until….”
Every town has one. It might be from 5 years before, like Deb ran into when she started at Webster City, Iowa. They had lost a factory. It might be from back in the day. The worst recent example was a summary of a small town’s history that pointed to an event in the 1900’s that “the local economy never recovered from.” There’s no one left who lived through it, and you’re still talking about it!
Listen, if people are still talking about stuff from way back, your best action step is to give them something positive and current to talk about. Even if they’re complaining about it, they’re having to talk about the present.
Since it felt to Deb like everyone in town was obsessing over the empty buildings downtown, Deb decided on a Tour of Empty Buildings.
Nine months later, she told me about all the positive changes that had happened since. I asked her, “How long since anyone mentioned the factory closing?”
“Oh!” she said. “It’s been months!”
How did a single event change the conversation? She put people into action, even if they didn’t believe in it. People were acting their way into a new way of believing.
“Action leads to insight more often than insight leads to action,” authors Dan & Chip Heath said.
Start with action. Belief comes later.
Keep shaping the future of your town,
PS – PS – I interviewed Deb about how this worked in our video this month, Changing the Conversation to Change the Future