By Gerald F. Schnepf, Executive Director

“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind!” is the famous quote credited to astronaut Neil Armstrong as he stepped on to the moon, 49 years ago – July 20, 1969. It has become indelibly etched in the minds of many and is symbolic of any effort of achievement! The start of any project normally begins with small steps while always keeping the bigger picture or vision in mind.

It would be easier to simply bypass the numerous small steps and get to the end goal. We know that is generally not how it works. Armstrong’s phrase is one that many Iowa communities need to keep in mind. The goal of improving the appearance of your community takes many steps, hours of project coordination and planning of the project, numerous volunteer hours and materials, supplies and funding. None of these come easy – they require hard work along with a strong sense of commitment.

All of us have attended meetings where we talk about a great project for the community. It tends to start with an active and excited discussion until we come to the subject of “cost.” When we discover the price tag, we tend to get discouraged. In a number of instances, we walk away from the idea. We throw up our hands and dismiss the potential of the project for the community.

In other cases, we continue the discussion until someone encourages us to break down the costs into stages or segments. Once we do that the initial project cost becomes easier to handle and one we can accept. For example, a million-dollar project can often be broken down into phases. For example, we can start with a first step of $200,000 and the remaining costs spread over a period of time – in other words “small steps.”

Leaders need to be diligent, task masters at times and in some ways, magicians. All of this along with good luck, is the formula for success. Thanks, recognition and even rewards from leadership to all those involved or that provided support – in the form of a celebration. A series of celebrations for each “small step” can bring increased awareness and support. Take your “big” idea and see if you can attain it in small steps. It may take a little longer, but the satisfaction and benefits will still be achieved.