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-Article by Erin Dixon

Each of us is capable of impacting our world in a positive way. Colorado City County Management Association (CCCMA) 2017 Winter Conference Keynote Speaker Jerry Traylor talks about the power we all have to make positive contributions in our workplaces and communities. Traylor describes his inspirational life journey living with cerebral palsy, running across the country, climbing Pike’s Peak and drawing strength from friends, family and others along the way. Traylor validates, empowers, and inspires his audiences and challenges you to look within.

 
Don’t Worry About What You Lack, Use What You’ve Got

“The circumstances don’t matter. What matters are the actions you take within the circumstance.”

– Jerry Traylor

Traylor learned at a young age that his disability was an extraordinary gift, shaping the way he lived his life. He saw that looking in the mirror and fixating on imperfections is meaningless, and he refused to let excuses control him. Traylor acknowledged his talents and ambitions, and used them to impact the lives of others. As a leader, you must use your own unique gifts to serve your community in the best way you know how.

Traylor jokes that his mother may have been the pioneer Compliance Officer for the Equal Opportunities Act. She used to tell her other children to play fairly with Jerry, or treats would be withheld. She did all she could to level the field so that Jerry could succeed. Though Jerry did not move the same way as other children, he embraced the tools and support he needed to conquer his circumstances and continues to do so today.

 
Strive for Excellence While Leaving Perfection to God

“When we are no longer able to change the situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

– Victor Frankel

As humans, perfection is unattainable. Failure is an opportunity to analyze your situation and change your strategy for the better outcome. Instead of seeking perfection, start pursuing excellence by improving communication with your team and your citizens. Traylor implores local leaders to seek wise council from peers and mentors. He asserts that asking for help is a sign of strength and demonstrates the desire to improve.

Encourage Participation from Your Citizens

Local governments must strive to foster a spirit of engagement with residents. Ask their opinions and get them involved in panels, boards, commissions and volunteer opportunities. The more residents are engaged, the more successful your community will become. Embrace your community and empower them to help set high standards. You cannot please everyone, but you can be transparent. Educate citizens about your vision, and take their objections as constructive criticism.

If You Know You Can’t, You Don’t Know

“Success comes when you and I learn to control our limitations rather than letting them gain control of us.”

– Jerry Traylor

Do not limit yourself by thinking you cannot achieve your ambitions. Even if you don’t feel you have the tools to be successful today, tomorrow you may meet someone who shares a new method or way of thinking with you. Traylor mobilized his potential, completed the Denver Marathon and summited 14,000 feet of Pikes Peak Mountain. “Don’t take the easy way,” Traylor says. Choose to go beyond expectations and strive to embrace your potential. Look back on what you’ve accomplished already throughout your career, but keep your eyes forward to what is to come.

Focus on Commitment, Not Complacency

“I am just a common man, but I work harder than most common men.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

You don’t have to know all the answers to devise a workable solution. Trust that your persistent preparations are enough to achieve success. We all face situations where the odds seem stacked against us. But each enduring step wears down those barriers until, eventually, you’re on the other side, still moving forward.

Be Sure Your Vision is Greater than Your Day-to-Day Pain

It’s easy to become discouraged by the daily challenges that local government leaders face. However, Traylor emphasizes that your ultimate vision should overcome the hardships. In the toughest times, think on what motivates you. Bring others into your vision – be they staff, colleagues or citizens – and allow your vision to grow through collaboration.

Surround Yourself with People Who Believe in You

“If more than one person is able to take ownership of that vision, they will push harder for the team.”

– Jerry Traylor

Traylor encourages all of us build a community from within. Look to your colleagues, council and citizens to thrive together. Remember why you became a city manager. Be true to your passion, those you work with and the people you serve. Everyone wants to get involved and make a difference. “Give them a chance,” Traylor says.

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