Think outside the box

Our City
by A.F. Mayor Marc Beitia

I had a goal and a plan set to achieve it. The day was perfect. December 23, 2013. Spitting rain. Winds at 15-20 mph. Then I crested the ridge. The part of the river I had planned to fish already had seven fly-fishers on it. Four of whom were right where my plan was to take me. So I pondered and watched. I could do that from where I stood as I strung up my rod. Time was on my side; which again sometimes happens when you plan for it. They were fishing with a bobber and heavy nymph; I wouldn’t be. Their techniques were obvious. Some were better than others. A few enjoyed consistent success for 14″-18″ trout, even in the 20 minutes I watched them.

So I cogitated. I still had the goal, but the plan would have to change. I don’t know if I fish this spot more than most, but I do fish it frequently, and always with success. I was going to have to get out of my box. We do that to ourselves sometimes don’t we, put ourselves and the way we see things in a tight and tidy box. With seven fly-fishers, the box was full. So I watched. The upper river wind played havoc with the top current and caused visibility into the river’s depth to be limited, even from where I stood. So I had to rely on past experiences and memories of where I hadn’t really fished to the extent of my abilities. We do that too, don’t we? When things don’t go exactly our way, we may try something else, but often only half heartedly. Hell, it wasn’t our go to plan; it couldn’t possibly be as good. I think too often we get stuck in our own ruts. It works, why change it? Change is hard. It requires thought, no small degree of uncertainty and even discomfort at times. Who would knowingly subject themselves to that?

The new American Falls City Council will be sworn in, along with yours truly, on January 2, 2014. However, yesterday, December 23, I gave them all something to ponder and cogitate. I hope it doesn’t cause them too much uncertainty or any discomfort. So far I only have one response, but I am still hopeful this plan will come together. I have asked them to give very serious thought to what they believe the core values of the council should be, what their core purpose on the council is and to write an article to be published in a newspaper or periodical of their choice in 15 years that will describe the results of their work for the next four. All this is in preparation for our first visioning session that will take place two days after the meeting on January 2nd. This session will be followed by three others where plans and goals will be formalized and the real work will begin.

My goal is that the years before us will be at least as productive as the eight behind us. Beyond that I will keep my thoughts to myself as I don’t want to build a box for the council that hasn’t even been sworn in yet. The initial choice and direction will be that of the seven of us, no voice more important than another. The only way successfully forward is as one. As many of you know I teach leadership and personal responsibility to my students and FFA members. I can only hope that I will someday be as good at it as Jim Koetter, the best coach and teacher I have ever known (Melba Rae Barnett and Dick Brulotte very close seconds). I do my best day in and day out. As I alluded to last week, sometimes it is difficult to put into practice what I teach in the classroom and FFA outside of it. In class we define leadership as the ability to cause others to identify and take action in attaining the goals of the group. Often, easier said than done, but it is what it is. What the Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) of the 2014 city council will be I don’t know, but whatever it is it will be one we all share. I am so looking forward to the discovery and finding how far out of the box we can take American Falls.

While the spots that my goal and plan centered around were occupied, my favorite spot was open. But, there was no way in hell I was going to fish it in front of seven other folks. It is good for a few reasons, and those are two of them. No, I had to get out of the box. The wind shifted slightly, patience does pay off, and there it was, a ledge across from where many normally fish but never fish itself. It could be difficult to get to, but not drowning difficult. Lilly (my yellow lab) and I set off down the ridge with a new plan to gain our BHAG. I was after the one that would put my heart in my throat and stop my breathing. Normally, I am not a big-fish hunter, small streams and spring creeks are my passion. But, I hadn’t caught one that set my reel on fire for nearly a year so I went hunting.

I tell my students there is no shame in not achieving their goals; the shame is not truly attempting to achieve your goals. That is the hard thing about goals and visions, without action they are only dreams of what could have been. I have every confidence that your new city council will set the bar ever so high and have the courage and conviction to see their BHAG through to a successful completion.

I hooked five fish in the three hours that I fished. Judge Laggis, they were all picture worthy. Sorry, only he and I know what that benchmark is for us. I landed three. The second fish I caught was the one I was after. Although in the end this is only a fish story, I am pretty sure it was a he, I saw him twice, got away. Today, same place – same plan, I redeemed myself somewhat as I believe I landed the second one that got away, a hybrid two inches over the benchmark, fat and very sassy. She made my reel sing, but didn’t set it on fire. Sometimes it is better to dare greatly and come up short than to not dare at all. American Falls City Council of 2014, you have my best intentions and my every effort, let’s do great things!

Until next week…

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