It’s a Simpler Balancing Act if You Know the Mission

I “run” our neighborhood. I am the HOA president – have been for almost a decade. I manage a non-profit company as a volunteer with an army of volunteers behind me who have my back. Our priorities and initiatives are all a balancing act. Money vs. Impact; Support vs. Opposition. Someone asked me one day,

“Brian, how do you make decisions for the HOA? What are your criterion?”

I replied, “It’s all the mission. Does it add or detract from the mission? It’s all a balancing act.”

“What’s the mission?” he asked.

“Maximizing your home’s resale value – and mine, too,” I replied.

In our HOA, every decision I make adds to my neighbor’s home’s resale value – and mine. Is the neighborhood pretty? Yes. Are we addressing crime in some tangible way? Yes. Do we promote good relationships between neighbors? Yes. Do we promote attractive homes and responsible home ownership? Yes. Do we want children to be able to play safely in our streets? Yes. Do we seek some visual harmony in the neighborhood? And some visual interest in the neighborhood, too? Yes. Do we want wildlife nearby to be visible, but still at arm’s length (we have bobcats and coyotes)? Yes. We wave at our neighbors walking or driving through our neighborhood, and they wave back – this is a genuinely nice neighborhood to live in.

It’s all a balancing act. For precisely $30 per month per homeowner – essentially a dollar per day, I balance all these things with the consensus of our Board, help from homeowner volunteers,  and the services of a small number of companies we contract with. We don’t have a glitzy fountain, a swimming pool, or a clubhouse. Instead, we have more than 6.8 acres of wilderness land that we oversee in the middle of a small metroplex neighborhood with two creeks, canopies of trees, bobcats, coyotes, rabbits, beavers, hawks and eagles, rock outcroppings, redbud trees, pecan trees, dogwood trees, tall oaks and elms – this is the eye candy that I appreciate. It’s all a balancing act…

When a realtor friend drove into the neighborhood with me one afternoon, she remarked, “This is beautiful – nice entrances, nice landscaping – it is peaceful.” Walking along one of our streams with a glass of wine in hand, she remarked, “I can sell homes here!” “See the bobcats over there?” I asked. “Oh.” and she turned to leave rather quickly. It’s all a balancing act – I would have sat across the stream from the bobcats…

With elections looming, it is ever more apparent that we are seeing a difficult balancing act unfold before us. And I have to ask, and ask again, because I don’t hear the answer in the Presidential campaign, “What is the mission?” To my mind, it should be “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” But that doesn’t  appear to be the mission at all…

If you don’t have a mission, you don’t have any defendable criterion for balancing priorities…

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