A couple of years ago, I finally made the decision to try to get more active and healthy. I figured walking would be a good place to start. I convinced my wife, Licia, to join me one morning at 6am. I laced up my old red Converse high tops and was ready to go. Licia looked at my feet and frowned.
“Are you really going to wear those?” she asked.
“Sure. Why not?” I asked.
“Because they aren’t good walking shoes,” she said.
“Sure they are,” I said. “They’re broken in. They’re pretty comfortable and they’re also pretty snazzy don’t you think?”
Shaking her head in the way I had come to know after 30 years meant that she thought I was full of it, she said, “If you are serious about getting something done, you need shoes for walking, not ‘snaz’! When you used to wear those shoes all the time, you weren’t this heavy and they aren’t going to support your feet well but you can try it if you want.”
“These are comfortable. I’ve had them for a long time. I’ll be fine.” I said and out the backdoor we went on that first walk.
After our walk, as I unlaced the Converse and rubbed my feet, Licia looked over and laughed, “I was right wasn’t I?” She could barely hold back the “I told you so” that I knew she was dying to say. “It was fine. I’m just out of shape.” “Yeah, right!” she said, and grabbed a cup of coffee that brewed while we were out and laughed her way to the shower.
After several more walks in the Converse and more of Licia’s taunts, we were about to head out on another Sunday morning walk. She tossed a bag on the bed. “What’s in there?” I asked. “Open it and see,” she said with a smirk. I opened the bag, pulled out a shoebox containing a brand new pair of New Balance walking shoes in my size. “I got them for you yesterday. Try them on,” she said. I was reluctant to give in and admit defeat. I knew the consequences of defiance – again, 30 years experience – so I took my time lacing them up and putting them on. I had that annoyed look on my face that I saved for moments just like this. I slid my big wide feet into the New Balances and stood. They felt different. Okay! They felt better – but I wasn’t going to admit that to her! We set the coffee pot timer and out the backdoor we went. Why was she smiling?
Later, over coffee, she couldn’t wait. “So, what do you think?” “I’m still out of shape,” I said dodging the real question. “No you butthead, about the shoes,” she said. Still reluctant to concede defeat, I answered, “They’re okay.” “Yeah, right,” she said. “You just don’t want to change and you don’t want to admit that I was right-again!”
I gave up.
“Yeah, okay! You were right – AGAIN!” I said. “They are better but I still like my old Converse.”
I never wore the Converse on another walk. I didn’t want to change from my old, but comfortable, Converse high tops to something arguably better until I was forced to – even though it was in my best interest to do so.
I’m not so different from most I suspect, but I’ve learned that change can be beneficial. I changed what I had become comfortable doing and the results are superior.
We have a lot of “change” to talk about in KC. We have already experienced some very good changes: taking taxes off the rolls in exchange for a better system; introducing more innovation into city government with KC Stat performance measures, and the appointment of a Chief Innovation Officer and Challenge Cabinet. We are now using GPS technology to plow snow and implementing a new economic development strategic plan. All of these changes have positively impacted the way we do things and how we interact with our citizens. In addition, the Citizens Commission on Municipal Revenue and the Small Business Committee suggested sweeping changes in our tax and business practices. Two recommended changes are currently being implemented or are already complete.
If we are serious about making our City better; on our way to being the best, we are going to have to get comfortable with the concept of change. We can’t possibly be the best unless we are at least willing to consider changing systems, strategies or policies that hold us back. Sure, things are working well enough, but if we want to be the best we can never settle for “good enough.”
We are now confronted with possibilities of change in a couple of significant areas: police governance and replacing KCI. Both of these issues evoke strong and immediate emotional responses. People have dug in with the 75-year-old state control of our police department. Despite the fact that the factors that precipitated this unique governance system are long dead. After St. Louis assumes local control this summer, we will be the only city in the country that does not control its own police department. Proponents believe the current system is “ good enough.” Maybe it is, but after 75 years, isn’t it time to at least have an adult discussion about the issue and make a decision based on current facts and circumstances?
Similarly, KCI is now over 40-years-old . It is perhaps the most convenient airport around but convenience can’t be the only factor considered in a billion dollar issue. There are serious and significant issues with how the airport functions, in terms of profitability, efficiency, utilization, airline usage and safety. The practical business, development and financial aspects of operating a safe and efficient major metropolitan airport must be considered in the overall discussion of major systems in this City. Again, it’s time we had an adult discussion about the facts and make a reasoned decision.
In the coming months, these and other issues will arise and command our attention. If we are going to make the right decisions – ones based on facts, data and emotion rather than simply emotion alone – we will need to be able to open our minds and hearts to the prospects of change. Change is not always scary. Change does not always mean something negative. Often, when you finally accept change, it slips on like a good pair of walking shoes and takes you farther down the trail.