I’ve been dabbling with a book called
Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Soccer Tactics, by Jonathan Wilson. Ignoring for a moment my esoteric reading selections, I was struck by a passage early in the book describing legendary coaches who achieved prolonged success. What they shared, Wilson writes, was a willingness to evolve, “A clarity of vision to successfully recognize when the time was right to abandon a winning formula and the courage to implement a new one.”
There’s nothing particularly novel about this observation. Eisenhower told us decades ago, “Plans are useless, planning is everything.” Heck, Darwin’s mantra could have been adapt or die.
Iowa’s market economy is showing impressive flexibility amid COVID-19. Machinists crank out face shields, ethanol plants shift to hand sanitizer, banks scale up massive lending programs, and somehow it all happens as we’re told to stay safe and STAY HOME.
The Rural Midwest must collectively exhibit the same agility and “clarity of vision” moving forward if we expect to grow. Our community and economic development tactics need to mature, which means we have to conquer our cultural aversion—let’s go ahead and call it hatred—of change.
First, a few potential positives amid the onslaught of dreariness:
- Our economy has some built-in resilience. We grow things, we make things used to grow things, and we process things that we’ve grown into food, fuel and materials. This means many of our industries are essential.
- Our population is dispersed, suggesting that infection rates could be lower IF we follow expert medical guidance with the blind loyalty of a Labrador retriever.
- Iowa’s strong leaders and well-managed institutions have our state positioned to react effectively without risking bankruptcy.
How will we build on these and other Iowa advantages when we finally have our foot on this virus’s neck? In the coming weeks, we’ll use this space to assess that very question.
Hopefully we can get the thoughts of others around the region. Hopefully, as well, there will be some disagreement, because disagreement drives creativity which powers change. And change, far from something to fear, is the source of amazing discovery. After all, it wasn’t that long ago I hated soccer.
A Deserved Thank You
So many amazing businesses have stepped forward in the last few weeks, it’s really only possible to thank whole industries.
So this week, a big shout-out to Iowa Lakes Corridor newspapers, television and radio stations. Enduring stuttering ad sales, self-isolation and the uncertainty that besets all of us, staffers at these great media outlets somehow continue to present and help us understand the news day after day. They are a source of comfort, whether it’s a familiar voice on the car radio or the welcome sound of the day’s paper sliding through the mail slot.
To everyone in local media, you are appreciated and you are valued.