More boundary spanners needed

Are you a boundary spanner, too?

If you are not sure what that is, don’t worry. I will share more details after I share about my week serving as the mayor of the best small town in America.

In 2019, I hosted several Curbside Chats and enjoyed the conversations with members from various walks of life here in our community. One of the things I picked up during those early chats was something I still use today, and that is asking someone I am meeting with “What can I do for you today?”

This is usually a good way to get to the heart of the matter and work toward a solution quicker. As I learned last year in one of my management courses at Ball State University, getting to the point is a personality trait of mine and that I prefer to spend 58 minutes figuring out the solution than 58 minutes of small talk to learn the problem.

Back to those Curbside Chats, though, I wanted to host them during 2020 and 2021, but with everything we have dealt with from the COVID-19pandemic, I didn’t feel comfortable doing so.

Now in 2022, we are back to hosting and just recently held the first one with special guest Department of Public Works Director Chad Dixon. While the weather wasn’t perfect, we still had some good conversations with those who attended. Like in 2019, I walked away with several follow-up questions to get answers to and look forward to finding out the details of those citizens’ concerns. Thank you to everyone who came out.

This past week, we had a chance to learn and use a few electric mowers from Mean Green to see how they did. This demo gave the airport authority, Seymour schools, parks and recreation and department of public works a chance to see what they thought.

It also gave the directors all a chance to go back and explore various costs when it comes to our current mowers and crunch some numbers before the next round of capital planning to see if they are something that makes sense or that we should pass on. Thank you to Wright Implement for setting up a two-day demo so we could get more than a few minutes to build an opinion.

Back in high school, I did a good job of spanning the different groups and being friends with many from many different areas. Over my adult life, I have often been able to do that, as well. My experiences as a father, husband, small business owner, volunteer, nonprofit director, council member, mayor and so many more allow me to connect with so many different people.

Earlier this week, I heard someone comment about us versus them, and that led me down a rabbit hole to read as much as I could on the subject. The thing I read in several different articles was that with an us-versus-them mentality, we categorize people and use those categories as a basis to exclude people.

One of the articles stated we need more boundary spanners that break down those categories and connect people, and as I read about it, I realized I have spent most of my life doing just that. Now that doesn’t mean I can span all boundaries.

Unfortunately, I have some people I can’t seem to connect with, and I guess that is sometimes how it goes, but I am pretty proud of my ability over the years to not hold a grudge because as Wayne Dyer said, “Change your inner thoughts to the higher frequencies of love, harmony, kindness, peace and joy, and you’ll attract more of the same.”

By holding that grudge, my thoughts wouldn’t be trying to attract positive energy. Instead, I would be attracting negative energy. Spanning those boundaries over the years, though, I have gotten to know some amazing people who might not have been in the best times of their lives.

Each one in their own way has taught me something I get to add to my knowledge base. No specific examples here, but I thought this quote I recently read from one of their social media walls sums it up best: “I’ve got friends with degrees, LLCs and felonies. I’ve learned from all of them.”

Thank you to all I have learned from during my years because each one of you has helped create the person I am today, and everyone I interact with today will help build a better me for tomorrow.