Bringing jobs back to MOV – be dealer of hope

“Leaders are dealers in hope,” says leadership expert John Maxwell. Mr. Maxwell also said, “If there is hope in the future there is power in the present.” As an athletic coach, college instructor and business leader I know that Mr. Maxwell is right. When people have a dream that they believe incredible things can happen.

Way back in 1999 the high school boys’ soccer team where I am assistant coach had never won even a section championship. We usually won a few more games than we lost. That year we began teaching leadership to our seniors. At the beginning of the season I asked our seniors, “What is your dream for this season.” BJ our captain said, “Coach, we want to play for the State Championship.” This was totally unrealistic but BJ was able to convince me, Bruce (our head coach) the other seniors and then the Team that it was possible. Our team began to train and practice at a higher level. The boys work ethic got stronger. They complained less. After an incredible season, against all odds, we played Morgantown High in Wheeling for the State Championship. Their hope in the future changed what they did in the present. It also changed the future for the boys that followed them, some of them were not even born in 1999. Twelve State Tournaments and five State championships later I can say that our players believe in the future. I have seen similar results in business, sales and safety. When people have hope and belief in a dream (the future) they are more likely to do the work and then the magic begins to happen.

We have a similar situation as we work to bring high wage jobs back to the MOV. As our community begins to regain hope people change their actions. Their attitude changes and that becomes contagious. I have been teaching a leadership class at Pierpont Community College in Fairmont for the last two years. Because of the success of other students, I can look my class in the eye at the beginning of the semester and say, “If you can stay off drugs and graduate as planned in May a $40,000- $50,000 per year job to start, with benefits is looking for you.” So far at least 1/3 of my class already has job offers. Some have more than one offer to choose from. Everyone is getting interviews. Our region is growing again.

That is not the case everywhere. Remember the CEO from the Netherlands we met at the Global Plastics Summit in Chicago who said, “Americans are so optimistic. You would never see that in my country.” Recently I met a student from France who wants to stay here. I asked, “What is the biggest difference between here and France?” He quickly responded, “Here you still believe in your future.” We have a similar situation in the coalfields of West Virginia. Many of the coal jobs are not coming back. Unless those folks leave, their future looks bleak right now. How sad to live in a place that doesn’t have hope or optimism in the future. They also have a huge drug problem. My guess is that many people turn to drugs when they have no hope.

It is important for all of us to have hope in the future so that we will do the work to prepare for it in the present. This optimism may give many people the reason they need to stay off drugs. This optimism is also a reason for prospects to choose to come here. If you were going to spend millions or even billions of dollars to expand and grow your company, what type of community would you prefer to relocate to? We can all choose to be dealers of hope to those we come in contact with. Maybe you can help someone to avoid a drug problem or seek treatment because of the hope you have given them. My desire for you is that these articles will help you to understand why we should all have hope in our future.

The jobs we have been talking about in this series are real. They are coming like Solvay and Hino. People need to be prepared and educated to fill them. Our community needs to be prepared and welcoming. This isn’t a sprint, it is a marathon. Believe in your future.

Thoughts to ponder.

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Greg Kozera is the Director of Marketing for Shale Crescent USA www.shalecrescentusa.com . He has over 40 years of experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert with a Masters in Environmental Engineering and the author of four books and numerous published articles.

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