Involvement and Practice LO12253

Edwin Brenegar III (
Wed, 29 Jan 1997 06:30:53 -0500 (EST)

Replying to LO12245 --

On Tue, 28 Jan 1997 wrote:

> I attended one of the conversations which grew out of reading the Wheatly
> & Kellner-Rogers book. At one of the early gatherings (we've had maybe
> half a dozen), someone provoked me into 'involvement' with his comments.
> He works with various church congregations, and especially with busy
> ministers -- ministers who find themselves too busy to do everything.
> After having them talk about what it is that they do in being so busy, he
> poses a hypotethical situation: Suppose you could pick a few people and
> talk with them about whatever you wanted. Who would you invite, and what
> would you like to discuss? After they recover from such an outrageous
> proposition, they suggest some subject they genuinely have some interest
> in exploring, and identify some people whose ideas they respect. Then the
> kicker -- his next question is simply this: Why don't you just _do_ that?
> What is it that stops you?
> The point for me was this -- if I think the subject really is challenging
> and if I'm willing to make the commitment, I can _create_ a circle. His
> comment removes the excuse of "I don't _have_ time" and makes me admit "I
> haven't _made_ time".
> One of my values lies in the education of the children. So I went to the
> principle of a nearby high school and essentially said, "Here I am; here
> are some things I'm interested in, some things I can do; is there some way
> you can help me help the teachers or the students?" That has gotten me
> involved, it has helped me 'practice' some of the concepts of community
> and learning. It seems to me like a win-win situation.


I'd like to offer my affirmation of your thoughts, share my experience
with involvement and provided a practical suggestion about "invovlement."

About 20 months ago, our family picked up and moved to a new city to be
closer to our families. We moved without me having secured a job, and
with the expectation that I would start a business doing leadership
development with organizations, whatever that is.

I started with a short list of 5-10 contacts. I called them, set up
appointments. I talked with them not about what I could do for them, but
about their impressions of need in the community, particularly in regard
to leadership development. I would explain to them what I hoped to do,
and ask them for people whom they thought I ought to get to know. Each
person would give me at least 2 or 3 names, sometimes as many as 8 or 10.
I would contact them and go through the same procedure. I picked up
enough work to supplement the savings we were spending for shelter and
food. What I found was that there is a wide open opportunity for people
to get involved if they don't enter into pushing their own personal
agenda. If people are willing to become involved in an open and
collaborative way, there are more opportunties that can fill a life-time.

I'm involved in meaningful development of leaders in a wide variety of
arenas and communities, because, I believe, IMHO, that I went with openess
and willingness to be involved. I beginning to find longer term projects,
and ones with more consequence and visibility. It takes time. One
example of how this approach has worked with me is the following. A new
friend invited me to lunch with four other people, one being the new
publisher of the paper. Our local paper had been just bought out by
Gannett, and this was the individual to turn it into a Gannett
organization. We had a great lunch. This publisher contacted me within a
couple weeks, asking me to vice-chair an education task force which was
the result of a larger community-wide visioning project. My willingness
to be involved in this has been a tremendous opportunity to build bridges
between individuals and groups who have been on opposite sides of
education issues. As the two new guys on the block, we aren't tainted by
past political baggage, but can be real catalysts for openess and
innovation. It is an exciting project which affirms that specific value
of involvement.

Now my suggestion to others who might have read this far. Involvement is
really about establishing relationships with people with whom you want to
build community. A lot of the people I met my first eight months in town,
I may not see for several months, but when I do, it is like no time has
passed. And why, because of our introduction to one another was not based
on finding work, but on establishing mutual respect and recognition of our
common need to build our community. When the time is right, we'll work
together, whether as volunteers, or for a fee.

So friends, get involved, have fun in discovering people and opportunities
you probably never imagined existed.

Together In Service,

Ed Brenegar
Leadership Resources
Hendersonville, NC 28791
704/693-0720 voice/fax


Edwin Brenegar III <>

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