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Economic Development is . . . (increasing the flow) of capital through the community and reducing its leakage.

Cocoon

A man found a cocoon for a butterfly and placed it on his windowsill by his desk. One day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through the little hole. Then it seemed to stop making progress. It appeared stuck.

The man decided to help the butterfly and with a pair of scissors he cut open the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. Something was strange. The butterfly had a swollen body and shriveled wings. The man watched the butterfly, expecting it to take on its correct proportions. But nothing changed. The butterfly stayed the same. It was never able to fly. In his kindness and haste the man did not realize that the butterfly’s struggle to get through the small opening of the cocoon is nature’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight.

In building Tama County’s economy we are going to struggle like the butterfly in the cocoon. Businesses and jobs are not created without struggles. We tend to avoid situations where we struggle. We want to know all possible outcomes before making decisions so we don’t have to struggle. When we do meet the hardships and struggles, we desperately seek someone or something to blame and then frantically seek to overcome them. Too many times we take actions to get back into our comfort zone without learning anything from our struggles.

Struggling can actually help you. Help you focus. Help you learn. Help you mature. Help you build relationships. Struggling pushes you in a direction that helps you overcome old negative habits and thought patterns on to growth.

Struggling forces you to focus on what’s important. Nothing like some hard times to help you prioritize everything in your life. Struggling can help you deliver laser-like focus on what is truly a necessity and what is a luxury. Some things ARE important. By default, that means that some things just aren’t. Struggles help you identify both.

Struggling reveals who you really are. When you squeeze a tube of toothpaste, what comes out? Toothpaste (I hope). It was contained inside the tube. When YOU get squeezed, what comes out of you? A Bad Attitude? Depression? Anger? Bitterness? Or is it Reassurance? A Can-do Attitude? Each of those things were already inside you and it took pressure to bring them out. Once you see what’s really on the inside, you can begin to work on your weaknesses and celebrate your strengths.

Struggling shows you that life is a team sport. No man (or woman) is an island. We all need each other. Struggling helps you connect with others whether you’re the one with the struggles or whether you’re the one giving support. Don’t be afraid to let another person lift you up, and never hesitate to encourage someone who’s struggling.

Hard times and struggles have their place in all of our lives. Without them we have no way to really appreciate the really good times. I know it isn’t easy. I’ve had my share of struggles and hard times, but each one of them taught me something. I’ve experienced job loss, sick children, and financial struggles. But again, each one of these struggles helped me learn to use self-discipline and trained me to make better decisions in the future.

As we begin to work to build our economy, let’s all embrace our struggles and learn from each of them.

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