Power of hope

At the National Speakers Association’s (NSA) Influence 2019 conference in Denver, Colorado a couple of weeks ago the leadership expert, John Maxwell was one of our speakers. Mr. Maxwell says, “Leaders are dealers in hope. If there is hope in the future, there is power in the present.” I know this is true in education, business and in the personal areas of our lives.

I remember a guy on my floor in Towers at WVU my freshman year. He was struggling in chemistry. The night before the first big exam while the rest of us were studying he went out to drink beer. He didn’t have a lot of hope for success. When the exam results came out he told us, “I told you I would fail.” He left for the army after first semester. As a high school coach, adjunct college professor and Regional Manager for a large company, I see consistently, if people believe they can succeed (have hope) they will work hard to achieve the goal. Hope is the starting point.

As an adjunct at Pierpont I told my students in August, “If you graduate as planned in May AND if you stay drug free there is a $50,000+ per year job waiting for you.” All of my students had at least one job offer by the end of October. I have been privileged to see some of them in action in industry after they graduated. They are doing very well. A former student of mine is now working for Dominion. I require all of my students to be proficient in doing public presentations. They all struggle with this initially. I was part of a large industry group that was touring a Dominion facility last year. This former student had to explain a portion of the facility to us seasoned professionals. He was very knowledgeable, professional and comfortable in front of us. I was proud of him.

The front-page story on Sunday two weeks ago in the Parkersburg News and Sentinel was, Database shows MOV flooded with pills. It discussed how many millions of opioid pills counties in the MOV received in the seven-year period from 2006- 2012. Remember 5 of these 7 years were during the Great Recession when many people were unemployed. Wood County lead the list with 40 million opioid pills and an average of 65 pills per person per year. Washington County had 23 million pills and 53 average pills per person per year. If there is no hope in the future particularly if someone is unemployed it is probably much easier to turn to drugs and alcohol.

During this same period, the article showed that Doddridge County, WV received less than 1 million pills and averaged only 17 pills per person per year. One explanation could be that the people of Doddridge county had more hope at that time than other counties in the MOV. I was in the energy industry then and recall, starting in 2008 the oil and gas industry was starting to pick up due to Marcellus drilling. In Doddridge County, there was no recession. There were oil and gas industry jobs, pipeline jobs, construction jobs and other local businesses like restaurants were expanding. I was surprised to see the large number of women driving water trucks. I learned they could make 2-3 times more money driving a water truck than working in retail or in a restaurant AND they could be home when their children got out of school.

My friend and vice-chairman of Shale Crescent USA, Jerry says, “If you really want to help a person, the best way to do it is to give them a good job.” In Doddridge County to keep those jobs people needed to stay drug free. Most important they could see a brighter future because of their jobs. They had hope and so did their children. One of the best weapons we have in the war on drugs is hope from a growing economy creating a brighter future.

A recent study from Jobs Ohio showed $4.6 Billion in investment upstream, midstream and downstream for the first half of 2018 alone with investment continuing into 2019 and beyond. We are working with WVU and WVDO on similar information for West Virginia. We do know that hiring for engineers, technicians, skilled trades and positions like truck drivers has been on going in manufacturing and petrochemical industries. One company I talked to was hiring plant operators at $36 per hour. Companies paying less were losing their employees. They have had to raise wages and hire new people. A number of people and companies in the Region are working at the Shell Cracker site in Monaca. Other companies are looking for truck drivers. There are openings for apprentices in the skilled trades. It takes 4-5 years to achieve Journeyman status so the time to get started is now.

There are always negative people. At a recent public meeting on new project there was overwhelming support. However, there were some paid antis from out of the Region who came to speak against it. It is easy to be anti when someone has a job and the jobs you kill aren’t yours. We know that plants built here will be the cleanest and most efficient in the world. They will be built somewhere. The planet and we all benefit when built here under our environmental laws then in places like China. We can transform our Region, fight the opioid epidemic and raise people into prosperity. It starts with hope.

Thoughts to ponder.

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