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Change often begins at the edges. It starts with just one voice — one idea that makes a difference. “Penny on the Edge” champions those who are willing to go first and challenges readers to think differently about how we grow our economies. This means understanding the intersection of entrepreneurship and economic development, along with the need to balance grow-from-within and traditional recruiting strategies. My intention is to provide ideas and support, make you laugh, and sometimes even annoy you as together we drive change from the edges.

Happiness inside the box: The role quiet time plays in your success

Munson 2-croppedOn most days, Munson spends a great deal of time looking out the window. He pays attention to squirrels and chipmunks, and one day I swear he stared at a leaf for over 20 minutes. And then he meows. A lot. But today, Munson simply could not think outside the box. More often than not, that’s where he was for most of the day — quiet and perfectly happy inside the box.

I am a self-proclaimed change junkie. Doing the same thing, the same way, over and over makes me twitch. And when someone’s first answer to something new is “no,” I feel claustrophobic. And when someone says, “We’ve always done it this way,” I break into a cold sweat.

But even I know how important it is to sometimes think inside the box. To take time to appreciate what we have and what is going right inside our organizations and our communities. To take stock of what needs attention or what needs to stop. As leaders, we are so often pushed (either by ourselves or others) to drive change. But sometimes it pays to just sit still. Our founder, Edward Lowe, called it pondering, and he situated certain places throughout the foundation property that entice you to just sit and think.

This isn’t always easy. We push ourselves, our teams and our community to innovate and move quickly. Several years ago, I was blessed to be part of a team of revolutionaries who were committed to driving change in Baltimore.  I could not figure out why those outside our band of rebels were so reluctant to get on board. And then it hit me — I was spending most of my time driving the community into the future and little time appreciating the past.  It was time to get inside the box.

At that time, I’m not sure I did that very well. I’m simply not the sentimental type. But I’m learning how important it is to celebrate who we are — blemishes and all. To appreciate heritage while driving change.

So today I ask you to consider following Munson’s and his hero’s (Ed Lowe, founder of Kitty Litter) example and spend a little time pondering inside the box.  Just don’t stay there too long. There are chipmunks, squirrels and some really interesting leaves waiting to be discovered.

Penny Lewandowski
A thought leader in entrepreneurship and building an entrepreneurial culture, Penny Lewandowski is senior consultant of external relations at the Edward Lowe Foundation. She is a frequent speaker on new ways to think about economic development – especially how a grow-from-within strategy leads to thriving and sustainable economies. To send Penny comments,   click here.

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