Challenges often lead to compulsion. In other words, it's quite easy to overreact to any challenge that faces you, and do the rash thing first, then clean it up later.
Unfortunately, this approach (which I've taken myself, much to my long-term chagrin) is often inefficient and doomed to failure, creating more challenges in its wake.
What I've found through talking out the day-to-day and big-picture challenges that often confront parks and recreation professionals, whether it has to do with budgets, programming, facilities and any of the myriad facets of management they're faced with, is the studious approach they have taken.
The fact is that a studied, careful (yet not too cautious) approach to any problem most often yields the best answer. A rushed decision is often based on assumptions that have no basis in reality.
Take the case of Bend, Ore., featured this month in Everything H2O on page 6. The city knew that it faced a demographic challenge -- namely a surge in population growth, and the changing face of its families.
Rather than quickly decide to simply do something, the problem was studied and addressed through a careful plan that is working. The full story, of course, is found further on in these pages, but the lesson is profound.
On its face, it seems quite simple, but we all know that events don't unfold simply. They often rush at us suddenly, precipitating a rushed and rash decision-making process.
The challenge, when it comes to challenges, is to take time to dissect what confronts us, slice it into manageable pieces, plan the pieces as carefully as possible, and allow flexibility in the plan.
I was one of those teenagers who took driver's education in school, rather than at a driving school. Though I complained at the time (it took six weeks, rather than six days to complete), I realize the benefits now.
I will admit to being somewhat of a speeder, as the tickets will attest, but I have been a defensive driver, constantly keeping an eye out for potential hazards.
Good planning is like good driving. We were constantly drilled on the IPDE process (Identify, Predict, Decide and Execute), and to "leave yourself and out". This, for me, encompasses the planning process, whatever it may be that you're planning, whether it's a road trip or a new park.
You don't simply Execute and hope for the best, and you leave "outs" so that you can more easily maneuver around the dangers and obstacles that will certainly lie along the path, regardless of how well the "trip" has been planned.
Please continue to send us your stories of success while you navigate the roads of your profession, whatever they may be. As always, your input helps others who are in similar situations, and something tells me that it will come back to you.
Regan D. Dickinson