April 25, 2019

Oklahoma is OK

by Nathan Mellor, Ed. D.

Strata’s corporate office is located in Oklahoma City. One of the things which Oklahoma is becoming increasingly known for is the number of entrepreneurs and other notable people who have called Oklahoma home.

Before moving here, I did not realize that Chuck Norris was born in Oklahoma. In retrospect, it only makes sense that he is from a place known for severe weather. For those who like Chuck Norris jokes, what do meteorologists call a tornado that exceeds an F-5 rating? A Chuck Norris! I also did not know that the Sooner State was the birthplace of Brad Pitt. If you have never been to Oklahoma, I can assure you the vast majority of people who live here have the same rugged good looks as Mr. Pitt!

In the world of business, although the State is young (founded in 1906), Oklahoma has already produced historically significant entrepreneurs such as David Green, the founder of Hobby Lobby, one of America’s fastest growing retail companies, as well as Sam and Helen Walton, the founders of Wal-Mart, a company that has grown from humble beginnings in Bentonville, Arkansas to become the largest company in the world.

Flexible People

There are many reasons why Oklahoma has produced its fair share of entrepreneurs. One of the reasons that I would suggest is because of their flexibility in the face of adversity. While flexibility and resilience are not limited to those who live in the American Heartland, or are familiar with the unpredictable nature of “tornado alley,” it does seem that those who are aware that plans can be altered instantly are more cognizant that being flexible is a character quality. When people endure difficult times, when they learn the meaning of the concept of persistence, the true nature of their character emerges. It is because of this demonstration of character in the face of uncertainty that we find the hope to continue pressing on. Below are three observations about people and organizations that are flexible and demonstrate the resilience to persist to success: 

They Keep The Big Picture In Mind. When facing a difficult decision, leaders are forced to sift the essential from the nonessential. Although change can be disruptive, it can also be helpful in clarifying what really matters. Think of the people you have seen on the news after a severe storm. Standing in front of a destroyed house, when asked how they are doing, they often respond, “We lost our home but no one was hurt, and that is what really matters.”

They Focus On The Future. I am continually amazed by the resilience of people who have experienced heartbreaking setbacks. In the face of devastating loss, they remain focused on the future. Instead of concentrating on what they have lost, they turn their attention to what remains, and commit to doing what needs to be done to rebuild.

They Say Thank You. Empathetic leaders recognize the sacrifices made by others. They are aware of the early mornings, late nights, and time away from friends and family required to get through challenging times. When they ask their team to push through to meet a tough deadline, restart a project, or help on an assignment that is not included in the job description, they express thanks for the effort. Gratitude is an important component in creating a culture where people are willing to be flexible in order to help the team succeed.