I recently received three outstanding books. They are diverse but all very good books.

Lon Parks, a long-time friend and mentor, someone I have enjoyed being around for years, gifted me two of the three books. Both Lon and his beautiful bride, Betsy, also someone I admire, have blessed me with their presence in my life and they have been of genuine support to me throughout my career. Most importantly, they have blessed our community. I always know when Lon sends a note, or brings me a book as a gift, he has put thought into it and so should I as I read it.

The book he provided me when I retired and took the chamber position was “Principles” by Ray Dalio. I committed to finishing it before I started another, other than the ones I am required to read for my doctorate program. I recently completed the book, and just as expected, Lon gifted me another book. But I desire to reflect on the books I read and look for application in my life. So with the book, “Principles,” I reflect on the main point of the book, which is that we are to embrace our reality and deal with it, both professionally and personally. Dalio provides a five-step process to get what we want out of life, again personally and professionally.

The five steps are 1) Have clear goals, 2) Identify and don’t tolerate the problems that stand in the way of achieving those goals, 3) Accurately diagnose the problems to get to the root cause, 4) Design plans that get around the problems, 5) Do whatever is necessary to push these designs through to results.

When it comes to goals, Dalio suggests we must prioritize our goals, and don’t confuse our goals with desires, as a proper goal is something we truly need to achieve, and we should never rule out a goal because we think it’s unattainable. As well, we should not limit our goals to what we know we can achieve, if we do, we are setting our goals too low. We need to strive for more.

Dalio also suggests we must identify and not tolerate problems. We must commit to viewing problems as potential improvements, and we should not avoid confronting problems because they are rooted in harsh realities that are unpleasant to look at. We need to diagnose the problems and get at their root causes. Strategic thinking requires both diagnoses and design. This requires we must speak to relevant people and look at all evidence or situations to get to the root cause of any problem. Then, we must design a plan, and remember there are many paths to achieving the goals — we simply need to find one that works, then we must push forward to completion. My main take away was that we must have a plan, without a plan any direction will work.

I believe we can all be impressed with our community and its desire to grow, to move forward and create opportunities that will benefit generations to come. Considering the need of application, we should all be encouraged to work together to meet our goals and objectives for the community, this includes the CIP and TIF that has been development for the betterment of the community. We need to leverage our working relationships to accomplish the needs of our community.

As Dalio suggests, quality relationships make for a great community and provide great support for efforts to accomplish any defined goal. The Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce is committed to working together with all that’s supporting efforts to highlight and pursue initiatives that make our community an outstanding location to live, work and play.

Also, please mark your calendar and plan to attend our next scheduled luncheon, where we receive an update on access to healthcare. For more information, please contact the Chamber at 580-355-3541, or visit our website at www.lawtonfortsillchamber.com.

Brenda Spencer-Ragland is president and CEO of the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce.

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