I had a different column already finished for this week. Then last week happened and I decided to change my column. So here I am, writing a column right before my deadline, about a completely different topic than I had planned. I am not a procrastinator so for me to change last minute means it was a pretty spectacular week.
Last week was one of those weeks that reinforced for me why I love my job. It was such a completely positive week that if I could have somehow brought every single person in the Alpena area along with me for the week to hear what I heard and see what I saw, I would have.
What was so awesome? Don't be disappointed. It's not some big announcement. It's not a huge secret I can finally reveal. It was the positive attitudes and action I encountered everywhere I went. I'll share just a few examples of what I encountered last week.
On Tuesday I presented to the board of a local credit union during their annual strategic planning meeting. I was asked to give a general update on how Alpena is doing and what the future might look like. Not everything in the update was super positive. It was just simply reporting of facts. What was energizing about that experience was their engagement and genuine interest in the community. It wasn't the type of interest that stems from gossip, anger, or complaints. They had questions that showed real concern for the well-being, growth, and future of the area. I left that meeting feeling pretty energized by their sincerity.
That alone would have made it a great week. But then I had the pleasure of attending a branding meeting. You know the Alpena brand I'm talking about - Alpena: Sanctuary of the Great Lakes. I attend most of those meetings and this was one of the best to date. The reports were all about action to build the brand that had taken place since the last meeting. I learned that the brand merchandise is now ready. The youth committee had an awesome project to report on. Progress was moving forward on improving the bike path. The Alpena app had been released. It was one action item after another that had been completed or had at least seen considerable progress. I was so distracted by the positive vibe from that meeting that I walked back to my office in the rain, carrying my umbrella that was still all folded up. But I didn't care about the rain. My mind was occupied by all the positive energy I had just absorbed.
As if that weren't enough positive for one week, I also participated in an economic development meeting. Economic development isn't always the most exciting topic. It can actually be slow and boring at times. Not to mention this meeting was organized with the goal of asking for help and additional funding. Sounds extra fun, right? But by the time the presentation was over, the energy in the room was intense and contagious.
People were excited to hear about all of the progress that had been made in the last few years. They were asking questions that didn't stem from negativity, much like the questions from the credit union group earlier in the week. Their questions were legitimate questions about real solutions and ideas to continue to build the economic development program and move forward. The people in attendance were very excited about the future, and very interested in becoming more engaged in moving economic development forward. The difference in energy from the start of the meeting to the end was noticeable and inspiring.
Positive things happen all the time, but what struck me as unique about last week was that I couldn't have gotten away from the positive energy if I had tried. Not that I wanted to. The positive energy was everywhere. I was surrounded by positive people who were taking positive actions and choosing positive attitudes. And it wasn't just the same people that I kept running into again and again. It was all the different people I came in contact with. I couldn't have asked for a better environment.
I promise I didn't soak up all of that positive energy and keep it for myself. It's out there and it appears to be spreading. I hope you felt I like I did last week. I hope the positive vibe crept into everyone's life in one way or another so it can inspire more positive attitudes and actions. We are on to something here and it sure is good! Jackie Krawczak is the executive director of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce. Her column runs bi-weekly on Tuesdays. Follow Jackie on Twitter @jkrawczak.