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February 2008
Learning to Live Intentional Lives
By John Paul Galles

    Competing in the 21st century requires a thoughtful response to the opportunities and obstacles that confront us each and every day. Making the most of our days and lives requires that we respond intentionally from an analysis of the options, consideration of the choices and an understanding of the expected outcomes before we act with determination to improve our work, our families, our communities and our lives.

    Stephen Covey in his book The 8th Habit—From Effectiveness to Greatness builds on the premise that “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In those choices lie our growth and our happiness.”

    How we choose and how we act are a cumulative result of our perception of those stimuli and our preparation to respond. Our actions determine our futures and the reception we receive in our encounters.

    At a recent lunch meeting at Whitehead Manor and Conference Center, I had the opportunity to meet with Mike Whitehead and several local “communicators” to discuss the concept of intentional thinking and how that may be effectuated in the Charlotte region. Those in attendance were given the opportunity to identify themselves and what has shaped their individual thinking, and the words they craft in their businesses to convey thoughts, ideas and messages to customers, employees, readers, audiences and the public.

    Having experienced rapid growth in the Charlotte region over the past decade and expecting even greater growth over the next, it is especially important that we initiate dialogues all over this community that stimulate conversations and encourage intentional thinking that leads us to more collective actions for the benefit of the entire region.

    How will we live with the increasing diversity in this community? How will we educate our children for their longer term success? How will new residents interact with those who have grown up here? How will young interact with older people? How will we address transportation, air quality, education, crime, immigration and health care? How will we balance public responsibility and encourage private initiative? How will we prepare our children for the future? How will we manage the elderly population through their remaining years? How will we live with the restructuring of our economy and the globalization of economy at the same time? All of these questions and more are the topics that we can examine and consider and act upon in ways that improve our lives and our futures. It takes talent, participation, time and thoughtful direction to build upon the space between stimuli and response.

    As Americans, we have always maintained a strong “work” ethic that has driven the successes of our nation for over 200 years. With the growth of democracy around the world and growing capitalism at the same time, other nations and their businesses are instilling a strong “work” ethic within their work force. To continue to compete and build on our own economic capacity, it is now more essential than ever that we expand and advance our “learning” ethic so that we can continue to improve on our economic success and continue our leadership position in the world.

    We can do that learning in that space between opportunities and obstacles and the times to take action. Learning improves our decisions and actions. We will be more successful collectively. We can start in our own community.

    If you would like to volunteer in dialogues that help us learn about each other and how to improve our community and/or if you would like to get involved in intentional thinking exercises, please let me know. I will forward your inputs to Mike Whitehead who intends to organize these events to the benefit of ourselves and our community.

John Paul Galles is the publisher of Greater Charlotte Biz.
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