Lawrence McKinney

Lawrence McKinney

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” — Socrates

Change is difficult, but not changing is more difficult.

When you initiate change, it can be exhilarating — a new car, a new job, a move to another city.

But change forced upon us can be debilitating and invoke fear and anxiety — a job loss, an unexpected death, a devastating diagnosis. All of us constantly experience change.

And since organizations, communities and states only exist because of people, they, too, will experience change.

How we uniquely and individually choose to adapt and direct our energy is paramount for optimal progress, because stopping change will ultimately be futile and waste substantial limited resources.

Eighteen months ago, my wife, Elizabeth, and I moved to Norman from Florida, a stark contrast in change. We left hurricanes, steamy afternoons and family behind. We also left palm trees, salty air and sandy beach breezes.

During our first month in Norman, we experienced a two-week lockdown at Embassy Suites as the “Snowstorm of the Century” overwhelmed the Texas power grid and took the lives of dozens of people in Texas and Oklahoma.

Not long after, in our newly purchased Norman home, like many of you, we experienced the “Hailstorm of the Century” that totaled our vehicle, destroyed our roof and damaged windows.

Clearly, this is not the kind of change we anticipated. We could have packed our bags and moved somewhere else or even gone back “home,” but instead, we doubled down and invested our time and resources into Norman, our new home.

We’ve made friends, we’ve volunteered and, most importantly, we’ve listened.

Norman, as we have come to learn, is not a one-trick pony town. It’s complex, with nuances, variations and challenging perspectives not shared by all.

As president and CEO of the Norman Economic Development Coalition, my No. 1 objective is to affect change in a way that is productive and positive, uplifting and engaging for 128,000 citizens.

To do that effectively, I must listen and do my own research, identify historical trends and where they may lead us all if left unchallenged.

Concurrently, Elizabeth interviewed more than 130 community leaders, politicians, educators, business owners and nonprofits to provide me with first-hand experiences of life in Norman.

Paired with my own data, these anecdotal accounts have provided a clear trend set for Norman.

We look forward to sharing our findings in December and, just as importantly, illustrating a path forward for prosperity and community engagement.

John F. Kennedy said it best: “Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past and present are certain to miss the future.”

Norman’s future is bright, and we look forward to sharing it with you.

Lawrence McKinney is president and CEO of the Norman Economic Development Coalition.

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