This past week, I had the pleasure of meeting some of Richland County, Montana’s nonprofit professionals.  I was invited to present at their monthly “Connect” meeting, a gathering for the nonprofits to collaborate.  In the short 7 hours, I was in Sidney, I learned a lot about the community and its citizens.

Savvy with social media but so personable.  They are great with social media.  I heard on multiple occasions about how many of them are shrewd users of not just Facebook and Instagram, but Twitter and Snapchat (platforms I myself cannot wrap my head around to properly engage).

What’s interesting about their social media skills is how it is only bested by their personable interactions when face-to-face.  I have never worked and spoke with a group of individuals who were all well-spoken, thoughtful, kind, and diligent.  I left each new acquaintance with a hug and a big smile on both of our faces.

Resourceful and strategic.  After presenting PHIL and addressing the audience’s detailed-questions, we enjoyed an animated discussion about how to successfully launch PHIL in their communities.  What were they already doing that would help leverage PHIL and its potential?  When was the right time to launch?  And who were the community influencers they would need support from?

Breathe deep when flying on an aged aircraft.  On my way to Sidney, I was surprised when I read the specific Cessna 402 I was on had an issuance certificate dated 1985.  Nonetheless, the flight was smooth and uneventful.

Preparing for my return flight, a storm warning for the area came across the TV screen.  A tornado had wreaked havoc in Plentywood just the night before and it seems a threat of serious storms still lingered through the next day.  But my attention slipped back to reviewing my day – it was a great experience, and I had made some new, great friends.

We then boarded the plane and, this time, I was not sitting where I could see the issuance certificate.  Instead, sitting directly behind the copilot, I was clearly able to see the age of the pilot.  He was young, as in, braces-and-lone-wolf-sunglasses young.  Even so, all went well until it was time for landing and strong winds were tearing through Yellowstone County.  With turbulence and no place to hold on, I had to resort to holding the back of the copilots seat and breathing deep.  After likely 20 seconds (that felt like 200 seconds), we landed.

After I got off the tiny aircraft, I inquired to the young man who was wearing a “Pilot in Training” badge and who was our escort to the airport:  “I’m curious.  When were these planes built?  Was it really the 80s?”   He chuckled and nonchalantly explained they were built in the 70s for personal use but rebuilt in the 80s for commercial use.  Not very comforting, but here we are, safe and sound.

At the end of the trip, the lesson is this – as we move forward, we can’t always tell what experience waits for us around the corner. But as we move toward our goals, whether it be the beginning of our journey or further along, being brave enough to find and connect with the good people will make the travelling worthwhile.




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