Managing Turbulence—in the Air and on the Ground

By Denise D. Resnik, Founder & President/CEO, First Place® AZ

If you’ve been airborne or on the ground these past few years, you’ve experienced turbulence. I was reminded of this on a recent flight, and again after reading this CNN story about clear air turbulence.

While not an avid airline passenger, I am married to an aviation enthusiast. We travel various parallel paths through our respective, passionate pursuits. And while I’m forever in awe of the precision and safety in everything he evaluates for flights he pilots and those he doesn’t, I’m no stranger to my own type of turbulence as someone focused on housing and community development for adults with autism and/or intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD).

Here are some suggestions for staying on track with your own flight plan. You might also consider landing in Phoenix, Arizona—or boarding via webinar—for the 11th First Place Global Leadership Institute Symposium Oct. 19-21.

Map your strategy and next steps. Just as you wouldn’t fly without a flight plan to calculate fuel, notify the origin and destination airports, and calculate time to let family or friends know your ETA, you may want to think twice about venturing into a real estate property without a plan informing and guiding your important steps forward. It’s safe to assume that life doesn’t just happen without planning and practice—and lots of it! It also requires memorable life lessons from those who teach and train, including recognizing what works, what doesn’t and what makes for particularly turbulent journeys.

Be aware of peripheral vision. Ever-changing weather conditions may require rerouting and filing new flight plans. As Joan Fallon, founder and CEO of Curemark, reminds us in Goodbye, Status Quo: Reimagining the Landscape of Innovation, peripheral vision is essential for knowing your options—especially when confronted by fierce headwinds!

Understand the terrain and know your options. This is how First Place navigated these pandemic years while maintaining our momentum and optimism. Here’s a quick snapshot:

  • Created a public-funding crosswalk for the residential First Place Transition Academy life skills program
  • Activated the Virginia G. Piper Health Spot at First Place–Phoenix
  • Delivered a second multigeneration affordable housing property in collaboration with the Foundation for Senior Housing
  • Launched the 360 Health & Wellness® initiative
  • Reached record numbers through virtual (and now back to in-person) First Place Global Leadership Institute symposia and workshops
  • Returned to pre-COVID employment and volunteer rates (more than 80%) for First Place–Phoenix residents

Strive for soft landings. We all want them—whether in a commercial or private plane, or on the ground amid daily living. They take preparedness. Have you filed your flight plan? Ensured your load is the safe and proper weight? Buckled your seat belt? Know where you can find clear skies? Make pit stops before arriving at your dream destination? For those of us leading organizations and major initiatives, this also requires staying connected with fellow pioneers, fortifying each other with innovative approaches to solving present day challenges—and making sure we’re well prepared as we navigate our perfectly imperfect communities and ever-changing ecosystems of support.

Add First Place to your flight plan—and join us for next month’s symposium. In-person participation is limited, so register today.

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