Degrees of Separation

Consider the most capable of the very youngest or least experienced person on your staff. What sets them apart from the others is largely limited to the lack of experience and results. That person likely has not had a chance to see an initiative through from beginning to end and following through is largely a matter of good habit.

In the parks and rec professions there are a lot of examples of those who did follow through and those who did not. They are easily recognized. Those that followed through likely include:

• Cities and municipalities with new equipment and well manicured fields of play as their levies were continuously passed and budgets annually increased.

• Staffs with a bright and energetic approach as they have been well supervised and feel positive about the job that they do.

• A content and participative public who supports the efforts of the parks and recreation departments by pitching in whenever volunteers are requested, proving their belief in the mission that the professional has established (like parents willing to umpire leagues, garden centers willing to donate seedlings, and so on).

• Return traffic/repeat business –- familiar faces showing up year after year or even week after week, proving their happiness and approval of the direction of the parks and recreation entity.

On the other side of the fence, parks and recreation administrations that don’t follow through seem to get a certain “look” to them.

• Their facilities are always either completely rusted or freshly painted. The paint in these instances usually looks like it is whatever was left over from the most recent other project and rarely blends with anything (i.e. marine/pool blue on swing set stanchions). It’s usually applied sloppily and hurriedly and there are splatters all over the concrete surrounding the apparatus or building. No plan, no maintenance, just cover up. No follow through, just clearly crisis management.

• The administrations have no theme. There is no master plan in place or mission statement involved. It’s not clear to the public who has responsibility for the efforts or places covered under the administration. You hear people say things like, “Oh that pool is run by the city? I didn’t know that.” No signature, no follow through, just fragmented efforts done with minimal effort, minimal commitment and dismal results

• The employees are an unmotivated bunch. They often blame lack of budget for the system’s shortfalls and it is typical to hear them say things to the public while administering programs like, “Well, they never tell me anything,” or “I don’t ask anymore, I just do what I am told.” Without following through and being excited about their role or asking the questions that would enhance their job or better the workplace, they become another part of the problem.

The notions that I often write about tout the beauty of clarity in simplicity. Following through can be a staple of life that makes and keeps things simple for you.

My grandfather often harped on the sheer waste of those who chose to complicate their lives. That same common thread about following through could be seen in every sentence he uttered.

He’d been an iceman (summer) and a coal man (winter) for the same company for 25 years until his shoulder gave out in his forties. He learned a trade as a barber that year and cut his last head about a week before he died at 82.

He’d say, “What’s so dang hard about all this? Finish high school and get a job. If they treat you well, stay with that company. Don’t hop around; show your loyalty because one day you may need theirs. Find a decent partner, marry up and stay married. Buy a house, live in it and pay it off. Send your kids to school if they want to go and teach them a trade if they don’t. Make sure they graduate. If they’re not gone by 21, boot them out — you’ll have done enough. Don’t retire young or you’ll die young. And when you don’t know what to do, find work. A good day’s work will always make you feel better.”

A life of following through made him one of the happiest and wisest people I was ever fortunate enough to know. Is this a New Age theory about to set the world on fire? No, not really. But is it a simple principle that most of us should remember more than now and then? As my uncomplicated grandpa used to say, “Yep.”

Ronald D. Ciancutti is the purchasing manager for Cleveland Metroparks, a metropolitan park system that encircles Cuyahoga County and includes more than 20,000 acres of natural land, six golf courses, seven nature centers, a variety of special interest facilities and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Ron can be reached at

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Related posts:

  1. It’s Not My Fault…
  2. Building Blocks
  3. Sudden Separation
  4. Shoot The Messenger
  5. Become A Moral Compass

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