Connecting the Dots for a Successful 2017

Jan. 9, 2017 null

Connecting the dots for a successful 2017
By: Angie Dethlefs-Trettin, chief community impact officer

When I was young, I loved a good dot-to-dot art project.  Remember those?  You could use a pencil, a marker, some crayons or - if your parents were adventurous - paint.  For the most part the image that appeared at the end wasn’t overly complex, but there was a great sense of fulfillment when the picture finally appeared.  And once I could see the outline emerge, I now had a new coloring page.  All I had to do was reach for the crayons and it would soon be the next piece of priceless art on the family refrigerator.

As we all jump in to our plans for achieving our 2017 goals, it strikes me that our collective strength and success is much like a dot-to-dot picture.  By making connections with one another, we can create the big picture successfully by stringing together our individual talents and expertise to reach goals. In my work at the Community Foundation, my job is to help facilitate these connections and here are some tips I’ve learned along the way.

  1. Be present.  When we take the time to truly engage in a conversation, or really see the issue in front of us, there is no telling what ideas and solutions might arise.  Don’t rush through a meeting or an interaction; take time to be present, learn and connect.
  2.  Be proactive. For some, making a suggesting or encouraging a connection might seem intrusive or “someone else’s job.”  Don’t allow yourself to have such an easy excuse.  The connection you make could mean a world of difference - so make it.
  3. Ask “what if?”  There are usually ample reasons why something might not be a good idea… but then again, what if it was a great idea?  Use that as your guide.
  4.  Keep your head up.  Look for opportunities to make introductions of unlikely partners, reach across aisles and see beyond the silos.  When we are looking up and thinking past the obvious, powerful things can happen.

Just as we connect the dots in for our professional advancement, each of us has the power to consider how we can connect the dots for our community.  It might be how we can support a neighbor who is struggling or help a child with a budding talent reach their full potential. Sometimes the dots that need to be connected are right in front of us- our colleagues, our neighbors, our classmates, our family members… ourselves.   

We each have an opportunity and obligation to help connect the pieces.  If we all challenge ourselves to make an introduction when we have the chance I am certain the image that appears will be an even more vibrant Central Iowa.  We just need to decide to pick up the brush and not be afraid to add the paint.