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From bleeding to leading


The old newsroom saying is, "If it bleeds it leads". This is because despite what we might say to others or ourselves about the types of stories we want to hear, we usually end up [clicking] on those that draw out our fear and anger. This is the result of our "lizard brain" and was highlighted in a relevant piece called "The Business of Internet Outrage".

The thing about outrage and fear is if we are not careful they can takeover the narrative we tell ourselves about our community and society. While there are tragedies and injustices happening in our communities everyday, what we often lament the news for not carrying is the positive stories. We all know this and yet our lizard brains take us back over-and-over again for more negative emotional hits. As a result, we can get caught in a spiral about the demise of society no matter where you live or the political identity you hold. I imagine we all agree there are things we would like to see change and I challenge you as you move into this weekend to look for something positive to focus on rather than those that make you want to throw in the towel or "angry post" to social media. Become galvanized to action by something rather than resigned to ambivalence.

On a whim I have spent a good portion of the past week asking the question, "Who makes this city go?" (h/t Our Towns). More than 20 conversations have helped me amass a list of more than 50 names and the list is growing quickly not slowing down.

Big names are on this list. The heads of Centene, World Wide Technology and Civic Progress. But so are small names: artists, musicians, chefs and entrepreneurs. I bet you know of people who make this city go who are not on my list: your neighbor, your pastor, a small business owner. There are people all around us doing good work. Here comes the hard part: stop looking to the news for inspiration and instead, look to your fellow community members. Turn down the volume on your lizard brain and up the desire to see people, stories and initiatives making a difference. Finally ask yourself, "what might I do to make a small difference and inspire others?"

Regardless of what you may have heard from a boss, your parents, former friends or just the voice in your head, you have more power and ability than you think you do. This is something I have had to work hard to cultivate in myself.

Now its time to get off the bench and go forth boldly.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly"

Theodore Roosevelt


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