Growing up on the plains of South Dakota, the month of August rolled in as a transition time. Our summer was nearly over and the routines of school would once again be upon us. The days were hotter than the usual summer days yet the promise of cooler weather was in reach. During the days of August, it was a time to harvest, exhibit, and prepare. It was a time of appreciation and anticipation.
August also ushered in the season of county fairs. County fairs brought a community together to showcase and discuss the fruits of our labors. Earlier in the year, we selected our best calf, raised our lambs, and prepared our best work. From then on and through the summer, we cared for and finished our work.
County fairs were a time to show our talents along with our hard work. We were all teens, and we did our best to prepare for the fair. Woodworking was on display, along with the best results of recipes baked. Livestock was placed in the appropriate county fair pen, awaiting to be shown to a small audience and, more importantly, the judging panel.
The end result of it all was a ribbon of pride or encouragement. The ribbon award rank was purple, blue, red, and white. Purple meant you could advance to the State Fair. Although it is easy to say now, the ribbons didn’t matter too much. There may have been some disappointment but it faded quickly.
County fairs were community time. They were different than company picnics in that there were no local politics. The people who wanted to be there, were there. It also was a time of conversation, catching up on what the summer months had produced and check on how dark our tans were. During the summer, we were dispersed to our family farms and daily interaction with friends was limited to Sundays and the county fair.
County fairs created an arena of appreciation. A satisfaction in the work done. A time to pause and be grateful.
County fairs aren’t a season but, in many ways, it was just that. They signaled a change ahead, a transition to summer ending and school beginning.
What does this have to do with leadership and change?
A good question. As I write this, I am unsure. But as I think about it, the points may be simply these:
- Our work tells a story. What story does your work tell this past summer?
- Our community needs a time to come together to have simple conversations. Have you created an environment for simple exchanges?
- Our cultural seasons may not match our quarterly ones. Are you creating an opportunity to celebrate transitions and achievements at the right times?
- We work hard. Sometimes we excel. Other times we get close but not quite to the level of expectation. Do you recognize the efforts expended?
Organizational work is different than the work to prepare for a county fair. In the heat of the summer though, county fairs may be a good reminder to celebrate what we accomplished while preparing for continued learning and work ahead.
What summer events do you remember, and what are the points to embrace in the work we do now?