President’s Message – Optimism, Progress and the Importance of Showing Up

By CSAE Trillium Chapter President Valerie Browne


Happy New Year!


I wasn’t quite sure how to tackle this first message of the year, so I did a web search on ‘inspirational quotes’ thinking I might find a stirring remark to provide a little burst of motivation to help launch us into 2017.

I read through plenty of soaring rhetoric, but found I was most drawn to the more pragmatic quotes of Thomas Edison. Many of his famous remarks are related to the unglamorous hard work that is foundational to success:

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are: hard work, stick-to-itiveness, and common sense.”

These quotes aren’t designed for lofty inspiration, but they were making me feel resolutely optimistic. I think that optimism may be a more practical (if less romantic) starting point from which to forge ahead in the coming year. An open mind helps too. For example, this quote from George Bernard Shaw:

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

The thing I like most about these quotes is that the call to action is doable. I may not be able to ‘soar like an eagle’ or ‘make each day a masterpiece,’ but I can show up, work hard, be persistent and keep an open mind. We can all do that and many of us do it already, every day.

With this approach, we can move our organizations forward. The advancement may not happen in dramatic leaps and bounds, but steady progress is achievable.

Don’t get me wrong, if you and your organization are in a position to make bold, hugely impactful strides forward, go for it! But in my experience, progress usually involves a long series of small steps, each of which contributes to the bigger change you are trying to achieve.

This year, I encourage all of us to keep showing up and bring our ‘stick-to-itiveness’ along.  As we achieve each small success, we should notice it and pay attention to how it is taking us closer to our greater goal. This time next year, we will have the pleasure of looking back and, with any luck, we’ll be amazed at how far those many small successes have taken us from where we began.

Here is one last quote from Mr. Edison to reflect on:

“If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”