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May President’s Message – Passing the Proverbial Baton

Picture this: It’s a bone-chilling spring Friday evening at a high school track meet. One fan is not dressed for 35 degrees, rain and 30 MPH winds (me). A second fan (wife) is dressed in proper winter garb but still using her husband as a windshield. They wait over three hours to watch their son run the 4x200 yard relay. The son is so excited for this race because he’s a sophomore running with 3 seniors on varsity. They had won the 4x100 relay earlier in the meet. After a 1-hour lightning delay and further temperature drops, he stands at the first hand off, blowing on his hands to keep them from going numb. The gun sounds and 23 seconds later his teammate is stretching the baton to hand off. They are in first! My son looks forward with palm out to receive, the baton hits his palm… and he doesn’t feel it. His teammate lets go. It falls to the track.

The runner in the next lane kicks the baton 20 yards off the track and my son is devastated. He let his team down, and a team of seniors at that. My wife and I watch in the stands as his teammates and coach huddle around him after the race. We’re sad but are glad to see that he isn’t facing the disappointment alone. He doesn’t have too much time to wallow—he has to run the 200-meter individual two races later. After the pep talk from the relay team and sprint coach, Jimmy bounces back and wins the 200-meter individual. Not a bad meet overall, but when I picked him up all he could talk about was the drop and how he let his team down.

Fast forward to practice Monday and the team took 3rd place out of 21 schools. They received a nice plaque and my son was awarded 2 metals for winning the 4x100 and the 200-meter dash. He got in my car after practice and was beaming ear-to-ear. I asked him, “why the big grin?” He told me that his teammates awarded him the team plaque to keep FOREVER! The team captains can award the team trophy or plaque to one of their teammates. His senior teammates got together and they knew Jimmy was down from dropping the baton. They told the entire team the story of their huddle after the disqualified race and how they encouraged Jimmy to focus on doing his best in the next race. He came back and won to help bring the team to the 3rd place finish. Jimmy’s voice cracked with excitement retelling his experience. I am sure that this plaque will hold special meaning in his heart, way more than any individual metal.

You might wonder why I’m telling this story. Last week, the CFBC held our Strategic Planning meeting. In attendance were 14+ past CFBC Presidents, Strategic Partners, the Executive Committee and our CFBC staff. A LARGE group to say the least, and a very difficult task of getting through the entire agenda. Jeff Conner, our Chairman of the Board, ran the meeting. Giving Forum-like updates around the group and time to answer questions was supposed to take 30-40 minutes. Instead, it took 2 hours of a 4-hour agenda. Did we drop the proverbial baton asking for the feedback and shared experience of over 20 people? Even though falling behind on the agenda was a baton drop, the shared experiences of everyone did help to identify and talk through aspects of strategic planning. It also gave all of us a chance to hear from the future voices of CFBC like Nicole Puch Ziemba with Primrose Candy Company. She is a current Chair for the Emerging Leaders Committee. I was lucky to sit next to her and listen to her shared experiences, witnessing her growth as a leader. Our past leaders play the part of the track team seniors. Providing guidance, experience, encouragement with mistakes, a focus on the future and the proverbial plaque to call attention to perseverance under pressure. Nicole is the up-and-coming teammate that won the 200 dash and will be part of what will make CFBC continue to be a fantastic organization.

As we finish out Crain’s Small Business Week, let’s Evolve by Getting Involved! 




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