Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

A Big Day at the Lake

Perhaps no other single event at Lake Norman impacts children as much as Big Day at the Lake.  “Big Day,” which takes place on a Saturday in July, was created by Business Today publisher Dave Yochum.  On July 21st, the Lake Norman business community, along with quite a few retired and active community citizens, opened their checkbooks and shared their time and resources with 144 at-risk children from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte.

Close to 80 boat hosts took out the Big Brother or Sister (Bigs) along with their “littles” who enjoyed a morning on the lake – many for the first time.  Then it was off for lunch at the Energy Explorium where 600 hot dogs, 75 pizzas, and 20 pounds of Cole slaw was dished out by the volunteers from many of the lake’s active civic clubs.

Big Day organizers set a goal of $50,000 in cash, and while businesses are just beginning to see the clouds of economic recession fade, the group exceeded their goal with slightly more than $60,000 collected.  It is estimated that 83% of every dollar collected goes right back into the charity itself.  Those contributions will help assist the organization long after the summer has passed.

I have been fortunate the last few years to be the guest of the Brian Sisson family as Brian, Tricia, Kaitlyn, and Sam typically hosts a “Big and Little.”  This year the Sisson’s took Willie and his Big Brother Aaron Grissom out on the lake.  Willie is a fifth grader and you could see the excitement in his eyes as he stepped aboard the Sisson boat.

Willie with his big brother Aaron and Aaron’s girlfriend at Big day

Aaron and Willie have been teamed up for a couple of years.  They have battled the rapids at the WhitewaterCenter in Charlotte and taken in Carowinds but I don’t think any of that compared to piloting the boat back to the Peninsula Yacht Club or making the flip off the back of the boat into the cool water with all the other children watching.

Hearing the splashing and laughter last Saturday at Big Day at the Lake brings back so many fond memories I have as a child with the wonderful trips our family took to the beach and our days out on Lake Wylie (SC) that we just affectionately referred to as “the river.”

Kids like Willie will never forget their Big Day at the Lake.  A day when strangers became friends.  When the families of Lake Norman opened their hearts to impressionable young people letting them know we care.

It was a day when Charlotte’s kids were our kids. A day filled with a compassion as wide as the shoreline and deeper than Lake Norman’s deepest point. It was a day like no other.  It was our Big Day at the Lake.

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July 30, 2012 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Social Causes, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Leadership Experience – Leadership Lake Norman

ImageThe poet Archibald MacLeish once said, “There’s only one thing more painful than learning from experience, and that’s not learning from experience.”  How many times have we seen people who have made mistakes in the past, turn around and make the same ones again.

This past month, the Chamber graduated one of its largest Leadership Lake Norman classes.  Created in 1996, with the first class in 1997, Scott Lawrence and his Board saw the need to create and nurture future community, elected, and business leaders of our region.  The program was developed to expose these individuals to the resource agencies, history, and community infrastructure of our communities, county, and state.  The program has seen graduates emerge as town elected officials, a North Carolina State House representative, Civic Club presidents (Rotary and Kiwanis), and Chamber Board Chairs as well as members of the Board of Directors.  Several of our key town staff including two town managers, assistant mangers, police chiefs, parks and recreation, and planning staff  have graduated.  Not to mention the many business leaders in both corporate and small business.

If Leadership Lake Norman focuses on one thing, it is to learn from your experiences.  Those experiences begin with the team building exercises, continue with the sessions, and culminate in graduation.  Those who make it a practice to reflect on personal experience, evaluate those experiences, and learn from them, distinguishes those who lead and those who will follow.   It reminds me of the parable of the fox, the wolf, and the bear.  One day they all went hunting together, and after each caught a deer, they discussed how they would divide their spoils.

The bear asked the wolf how he thought it should be done.  The wolf said everyone should get one deer.  Suddenly the bear ate the wolf.  Then the bear turned to the fox and asked him how he proposed to divide the rewards.  The wise fox offered the bear his deer and said the bear should also take both his own and the wolf’s deer as well.

“Where did you get such wisdom?” asked the bear.  “From the wolf,” replied the fox.

After facilitating fifteen leadership classes there are a few take aways that I have:  First, an effective leadership class has members who complement each other and leaders always emerge in every group.   At every leadership retreat a leader will appear, sometimes several, with a couple of common characteristics: they know exactly where they are going and they persuade others to follow.

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Children from Ramah Christian Classical School make a presentation at Leadership Lake Norman.

A great leader earns your trust and inspires confidence in their followers  It’s been said, a good leader inspires their followers to have confidence in them.  But an outstanding leader inspires their followers to have confidence in themselves.   At this past graduation, a friend attending a later reception of current and past graduates noted the enthusiasm and chemistry of the class members. This particular person, a chamber member themselves remarked, “it must make you feel really proud.”

Yes it does, …intensely.  Knowing that in 1997 a group of people developed a program based on a vision of the community we could become – and in the process – 287 people have participated and today each play a vital role in leading our communities and its businesses.  Yes, I’m very proud!

Download the Leadership Lake Norman application from the Chamber’s website.

July 9, 2012 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Lessons | , , , , | Leave a comment