It’s a cinch by the inch but hard by the yard. Little by little gets it done.
Down on hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen linoleum floor I was joined for awhile during the hour-after-hour ordeal by my 5-year-old grandson. I had to do it. The rental was to be moved into the next day. Jacob, on the other hand, volunteered.
Jacob likes to be close to his grandpa, and of course I like it that way, too. His favorite activity on Tuesday nights is to wrestle. We have the best pillow fights. His little brother Ryan gets in his licks, as well. They’re due a baby sister soon, but with two big brothers she’s sure to enter the fray of flying feathers.
Teacups and dolls just don’t seem to fit that family.
And besides, Mighty Machines don’t come in pink.
The floor-scrubbing-thing was grueling. Like stacking chairs, I hovered over Jacob, who’d crawled beneath me, and together we scoured away.
That’s when I shared with him an important lesson he’ll need as he prepares for his kindergarten interview on Thursday at Tillicum Elementary School. It’s a lesson he’ll need to apply throughout his education and his life.
It’s a cinch by the inch but hard by the yard.
Little by little, square by linoleum design square, in a sing-song sort of way with me and then Jacob alternatively beginning and the other finishing our mantra, the entire floor became spotless, an otherwise overwhelming task, one that included scouring behind the stove and beneath the refrigerator which, though it had wheels, had never been moved.
There’s an ancient proverb that contrasts the sheer grind-it-out, get ‘er done, mental and physical focus that is required to achieve absolutely anything – and the slothfulness-of-a-slug who by the same token, the same measurement, the same opportunity: fails.
“The sluggard is deceived by the smallness of his surrenders. So by inches and minutes, his opportunities slip away.”
Speaking of slipping away, I received a call this morning that the budget crisis in our state of Washington is far worse than anyone has let on, leading some to believe that there is no way to exhume ourselves from this financial grave other than to raise taxes, or expand gambling.
How did we get into this economic quagmire? A more important question is how do we get out?
By the inch of initiative.
Without resorting to the "low-hanging fruit," as in the forbidden fruit of the proverbial Garden of Eden: taxes – “trust me” the serpent hissed; or further entombing our citizens in Gambling’s Graveyard – both evils sure-to-be offered by wicked-witches disguised as politicians, here’s an idea out of Alabama called the "Initiative 7 Project.”
“In-i-tia-tive – noun (plural in-i-tia-tives) Definition: introductory step: the first step in a process that, once taken, determines subsequent events.”
Begun in 2004, it’s been dubbed the "what-if-we-could" initiative that “identifies and equips would-be entrepreneurs creating home grown economic growth.”
“How do you create jobs and stimulate economies without state-of-the-art infrastructure and money for hefty incentives?”
U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, (D- Ala.) states the answer is to “focus on small entrepreneurial businesses. Instead of waiting for outsiders to come in and change the region’s destiny, local residents are slowly making a difference and transforming the economy and their own lives through old-fashioned entrepreneurship.”
By the inch.
“It’s vitally important to grow the small businesses that are in our communities,” Davis declares, “because the overwhelming majority of jobs are created by small businesses.”
Small businesses like the annoying-to-farmers underground saltwater aquifers that innovative entrepreneurs have turned into a thriving shrimp-growing industry thanks to the Initiative 7 project. Bakeries, theater-production companies, even a quilting museum and more have profited from the project.
But perhaps the biggest plus has been the improvement in quality-of-life perceptions of the people, “instilling hope where economic hardships have dampened people’s spirits for years.”
That result alone proves the principle that what matters most in a community – its greatest asset, the mighty machine that drives development – are the people themselves. Investing in people, helping them become ‘in the pink’ through their own hands-and-knees initiatives, is priceless.
An overview of the initiative-by-the-inch, inside-out approach to community development is attached.