Dispatches from Independence Day (in the rain)


How I Spent Independence Day: On a bike, in the rain…

It was intentional – and I enjoyed every moment. Two hours moving through the rain felt decisive, liberating. Coincidentally (or not) this excursion took place on the Minuteman bike path which stretches northwest from my view of it in Arlington to Concord Massachusetts.

Why on this 4th of July?  Several reasons for sure, including…freedom.

Freedom is a powerful thing

I love championship tennis. And…I forwent watching Roger Federer play in the Men’s Semifinal at Wimbledon. It’s not the same to watch a recorded match, but it’s the choice I made. Rain was coming, Tropical Storm Arthur to be exact and I was determined to ride, even if I got drenched…which I did. As I left the dry surface of bike storage I could see the rain. I now had the excuse to retreat to greatness (Federer) when I find myself thinking about my 90-year old dad, who at age 19 spent many nights sleeping upright in a foxhole. He was an enlisted PVT in General Patton’s 3rd Army deployed to France. From Basic Combat Training to foxholes, combat, a hit by shrapnel and a Purple Heart recipient, my father was just one of maybe 20 from his unit “that made it”. Like many others in this “greatest generation” his wartime experiences shaped him and his success.

On Independence Day, we posted a TEDx talk from James Herdt, The Value of Veterans as Innovators. What it calls out is the fortitude, skill set and problem solving expertise of trained and experienced Military. Camaraderie, decision-making, strategy, analytics, critical thinking, determination, taking action, winning, experiencing defeat, regrouping, pushing forward, learning, success, innovating — these belong in the lexicon of Military Experience, but also in the Workplace. James Herdt is one of many to invite civilian and military employers to hire veterans.

It’s a call to action to look closely at candidates that possess serious qualifications (talent), both strategic and hands-on. Veterans are qualified contributors in business, management, finance, operations, sales, security, communications, construction, engineering, the list goes on, and on. So this is what I think about as I start riding through the rain.

I ride in the rain because I can. Because I’ll have the path to myself. Because I love movement, fresh air and freedom and because pushing myself feels right. Because this marks an important day, not just in my country’s history, but because independence is relevant always. Freedom is worth thinking and speaking about because freedom is a powerful thing.

The rainfall is steady from Arlington uphill to Lexington, and through the woods to Bedford where after an hour I pause. I realize that I was in a contemplative state to the extent that I don’t recall moving across a bridge that traverses eight lanes of highway traffic below. How is that possible, not to hear eight lanes of high-speed traffic? I’m not entirely sure except this isn’t the first time it’s happened.

I wrote and posted an article marking our first year as a startup. A Year of Harvest, a Day of Thanks, is about Innovation Excellence, our journey as a team and a global community.

In it I place an image of a young girl, head tilted to the sky, in the rain. I chose it because it felt appropriate to the discussion of gratitude. Feeling thankful for the rain, for a time when all the world felt still, I stop my bike and take a ‘selfie’ as a reminder of the rain on Independence Day.

The rain may not be visible, like the girl above, but be assured that I am soaked, from my cap and clothes down to my water-filled shoes and toes. I want to lift my hands together into the rain like her, but impossible since I took the photo…

I wrote an Op-Ed piece for the Albuquerque Journal called Understanding Veterans Day. I also reviewed a film about the actor Gary Sinise – his band and work with veterans. Like James Herdt’s group Pinnacle Five, there are many meaningful opportunities to support the value of veterans, their families, communities, sacrifices and heroic efforts. My father doesn’t dismiss much but when it comes to discussing his WWII fortitude, he says, “I was a 19-year old kid and I was lucky.”

Regardless of any politics or views on war, we have a nation of veterans that served, sacrificed, learned…have very marketable skills and vast experiences in training and delivering.

My ‘dispatch’ today is to hire veterans to fortify the workplace with their array of skill and strength.

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Innovation Quotes of the Week – September 29, 2013Mari Anixter is Managing Editor for Innovation Excellence. She is a communications/creative professional living in the Boston area.

Mari Anixter




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