I often meet people who tell me that they are “about to do something” as soon as their plan is fully developed and critic proof. While well-intentioned, that way of thinking can be a hindrance to helping our region. The best time to do anything is not when you have it all figured out—sometimes you’d be better off to just get moving. I’m amazed at the energy that’s created from forward motion. Forward motion can catalyze the understanding and healing of the issues that impact our region deeply – violent crime, drug abuse, economic and educational inequities and hopelessness. Our region’s current reality requires we don’t sit idly by until we have it all figured out.
Thankfully, in our region we have an army of caring men and women, organized through Ready by 21® St. Louis and East Side Aligned, who saw the need in our communities and got to work. Two years ago they joined together to begin creating conditions that equip every child for success by aligning and advancing policy, practice and investment. As these leaders started meeting they realized that they were attempting something that hadn’t been done before – stimulating partnerships at scale. They were frustrated that we had terrific organizations doing fine work, but the magnitude of the challenges in many of our neighborhoods could not be overcome by their efforts alone. They began cultivating a space where all who want positive outcomes for children and youth in the St. Louis region could join to create a blueprint to make it so. They knew we were missing an opportunity to work differently—collaboratively— to leverage our strengths and, ultimately, help more people. Since then, the conversations in the St. Louis region have shifted, in large part due to the advancement of Ready by 21® St. Louis and East Side Aligned. And, there is still much more work to be done.
I appreciate these leaders and am happy to be a part of their army. They are putting their shoulders to the wheel by helping think through the small steps that will ensure more children and youth realize the possibility of prosperity. They realize that to solve the issues plaguing our region, we must approach the situation like war. Like in war, we must look at the entire landscape, and after each battle regroup and restrategize from the lessons we’ve learned and the victories we’ve earned. We may not know every battle heading our way, but we’re in it for the long haul because wars are won one battle at a time.
In each of these battles, trying innovative ideas and concepts will be a major part of our success. Innovation is not about meditating on an idea until it is perfect for public consumption. Innovation requires that you listen, put your best thinking out there, and then listen some more, refining your strategy based on what you learn. I am proud of the leaders who continue to put their ideas out there, who continue to inoculate themselves from the critics who don’t believe that we can work differently in this region to get better outcomes for children, youth and families. I am proud of these leaders who are absolutely innovating and championing a new way to work. Thank you for doing something now! We can absolutely change the trajectory of a generation by taking measured steps in the right direction. Let’s go St. Louis. I invite you to share your thoughts on what can and must do to create conditions that transform lives and our region. Register today.