This winter has been an incredible combination of cold and snow for this area (and many other areas, too). As I continue to complain about the cold weather and continuing to shovel the snow, my kids seem to only focus on the chance to go sledding again or building another snow fort in the yard. It got me to thinking that many of us (myself included) tend to focus on the negatives with a lot of things that go on in life. Others seem to always find the positive and appreciate what they have.
If you have been watching the Olympics, some athletes focus on participation, competing and the experience of the games while others are strictly focused on winning and anything less is a failure. Now I’m not saying that these athletes shouldn’t be trying to win gold at the games but doing their best competing while representing their country is an accomplishment that should not be overlooked or taken for granted.
The same can be said about most of us locally. We are so caught up in what we don’t have that we are not able to appreciate what has been accomplished. In 2005, the Board of the DeKalb Chamber drafted some documents regarding Sustainable Economic Vitality in the area. Everyone wants to live in an area that provides a high quality of life, but what does that look like? The answer might be different for everyone, but there are some constants to the formula for achieving it (key components of a vital community like schools, parks, healthcare, etc.).
Over the past 10 years since the SEV documents were written, many great improvements have happened in the area including a new DeKalb High School, expansion and improvements to Northern Illinois University and Kishwaukee College, additions and changes to area parks, a new hospital, new cancer center, and major improvements in downtown DeKalb to name a few.
Because we always want more (which isn’t a bad thing), we don’t always appreciate the many great things that have happened. I don’t have the space to list all of the great things that have happened just in the past year and I’m sure each of you will have a different list based on what affects you most. One example of not fully appreciating success is the NIU football team. If I told someone 10 years ago that the team went to a fourth consecutive MAC Championship, went undefeated during the regular season, extended its home winning streak to 26 games and attended its sixth consecutive bowl game that would seem like a reach. The truth is that now it’s expected. That’s a great thing, but shows us just how easily we can take things for granted.
Always look ahead to the next great accomplishment, but don’t forget to enjoy what has already happened, too. Be a part of making this area great. To find out more information about what is happening locally, visit www.dekalb.org.
• Matt Duffy is executive director of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce.