Continuing with my vacation theme, another place that we saw in Little Rock was the Heifer International Headquarters.  (Heifer is one of my favorite charities — giving animals and training to people in need with the proviso that they in turn “pass the gift” and give the animal’s offspring to another family in need.)  When they went to build, they were first told no by the Environmental Protection Agency.  The land that they wanted along the Arkansas River was  “too toxic” to use.  Instead of giving up, they removed 75,000 tons of earth and cleaned up the site.  Now, instead of an abandoned railroad yard, the Heifer building is a gorgeous, LEED Platinum facility, surrounded by land that has been transformed into a wetlands area.

The results inspired the Clintons to continue the trend, so next door to the Heifer Headquarters sits the new William J. Clinton Presidential Library, another LEED Platinum facility surrounded by controlled wetlands and trails.  They even reclaimed an abandoned railroad bridge over the river and connected it to 15 miles of walking/biking trails along the shores.  When we went on tour, the guide had us look out over the Little Rock skyline — and the $2 billion in new construction that has occurred since Heifer first reclaimed its land.

It certainly would have been easier for Heifer to find another location for its headquarters — either in Little Rock or in another city, but it would have been inconsistent with its mission.  “If we’re going to have a lasting impact on ending world hunger, then everything we do must renew the earth and not deplete it,” said Jo Luck, Heifer’s president and CEO, on the Heifer website.  

Heifer’s decision to build this kind of building is totally congruent with its mission.  Clinton’s choice to contribute to the revitalization of the downtown Little Rock economy is also in alignment with his lifelong work on behalf of the state.  I believe that both made their building decisions to be authentic with themselves, but wound up having a large external impact as well.

How can you translate your mission into visible, tangible manifestations such as the type of building you occupy or the location where you build it?  Are there other significant ways to practice what you preach?  Even if it isn’t the easiest way to do something, it might be the most important.  Choosing the hard road can be the high road for both your organization and its community.

— beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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