Grappling Forward

I’m sure it’s the season, and maybe my eternal optimism in the face of the daunting challenges we face, but I have been looking for a few good maxims to inspire me into the coming year.  I got a great one from Rev. Otis Moss Jr., from his address to the Cleveland City Club last week. 

In sharing his vision and hopes for the nation, he expressed this profound wish: “Leadership that achieves the possible while grappling with the impossible.”

Grappling.  What a great word.  Almost onomatopoetic.  You can almost hear and feel – even see – the two-handed grasp and struggle of the word. 

We don’t grapple enough; especially not with what seems impossible.  Perhaps if we did – if we grasped and struggled with the highest, best, most impossible of our dreams we might settle them down enough to see possibility.

The Cleveland Foundation has been grappling with some mighty big and impossible dreams lately. 

  • Wind power channeled from the lake 
  • A University Circle that belongs to the neighborhood that surrounds it
  • Workforce training designed for Cleveland’s 21st century needs 
  • A county-wide collaborative network of services for children that is more than a safety net 
  • A system of schools of choice and excellence rather than a 19th century public school system
  • Reinventing Cleveland as a truly international city of business and culture

Success with these efforts will take time, perseverance, and partnerships.  And they may not all work out exactly as we envisioned.  But first it took that vision to see an alternative future, and it continues to take leadership and the willingness to risk something; to grapple with what might not be possible.

So, in the New Year, my wish for us all is to “Grapple On, Cleveland!”