Winnebago County Board

Don’t listen to limiting lectures

(continued from Volunteering’s Ripple Effect Volume XV, Issue 883 March 1, 2022…)

We didn’t want to buy a home in Rockford until our house in The Village of Beverly Hills sold. 1973 was a slow real estate market. I lived in a Rockford men’s boarding house Monday night through Thursday night, flew back home on Friday night, returned to work in Illinois on Monday morning. I was busy forming classes by day and teaching classes at night. This routine went on for six long months. In addition to my work schedule, I signed up for the Rockford Chamber of Commerce’s 7:00AM, ten-week, Community Leadership Program. One direct result of this engagement was my election to the Winnebago County Hospital Planning Commission. I was scheduling as many free, 59-minute, in-company, sample leadership insights workshops as I could give away.

After six months of my weekly commute, we found our new 4,200 square feet dream home right on the Rock River. All four bedrooms had their own separate shower and bathtub. Our cherry wood lined den with fireplace was serene. The classic winding staircase made a dramatic entrance to the living room and there was a second stairway off the kitchen. We even had an elevator from the basement to the second floor!

When I took over the Rockford franchise, I was told by several people as if it were engraved in granite, “It will take you 3 years to be accepted here.” We’d been in our new home for about three months, when I was asked to lunch by J.E. Bender, a local industrialist who owned manufacturing plants in Rockford and Chicago. Mr. Bender brought Lynn Martin, who was serving on the Winnebago County Board, along with him. I was flabbergasted when they asked me to run for Lynn’s Winnebago County Board seat because Lynn was running for Congress.

Believe me, I felt unqualified, but with their encouragement and promised support, I filled the statutory requirements, printed, and mailed flyers (see picture) to all registered republicans. I won the primary beating two second-generation residents with well-known names.

Rockford was solidly Republican. Winning the primary meant a certain win in the general election.

The lesson I learned from this experience not to let others limit my expectations and determine my destiny.

The action I call you to take is set your sights on the next rung up the ladder. Fully engage in everything you do. Play over the lines of your role. Do more than anyone has ever done in a job like yours.

The benefit you will gain is new horizons will open to you that extend beyond your ability to even imagine.

No matter the size of the puddle, make a splash!

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