September 11, 2001. We will never forget. The morning of 9-11 came about like any other morning. It was just another day. Nothing special about this Tuesday until the unthinkable happened. My initial thoughts centered on my then fiancée’s Brooklyn relatives. Were they all right? Were they anywhere near the financial district when this national tragedy happened? All of my thoughts were on those in New York, Washington and rural Pennsylvania.
Two days later I was scheduled to deliver a workshop on change for ASTD Atlanta. Having planned this session nearly two months prior, no one including myself could imagine the “change” we all would experience with 9-11. Our world was certainly not the same. It certainly was a challenge to deliver this workshop to a group of individuals who experienced the effects of our national tragedy differently. So explaining to them through the application of innovative and critical thinking tools, we all can manage change better. Even yours truly, with my experience and knowledge of Creative Problem Solving, found the “change” of 9-11 to be difficult to accept; however, we must go on!
Go on, indeed, our lives must continue. My wife, Karen, and I were planning to get married on September 23rd, only 12 days after the horrific event. Living in Atlanta, Georgia, our wedding was scheduled to take place in Canton, Ohio. Planning a long-distance wedding was challenging enough, but now with the aftermath of 9-11, we knew our wedding would somehow be affected. Since the airlines had just reestablished partial flight schedules, it was going to be difficult to get a flight let alone to ensure all of our packages would be shipped as well. In addition, Karen needed to carry-on her wedding gown. Unfortunately, the airlines were enforcing strict carry-on rules and could not guarantee the safety of the gown. Therefore, Karen and I needed to drive 16 hours to our wedding in order to make it happen. Talk about managing change at the last minute!
Despite all of these obstacles, our wedding went off without a hitch. All of our relatives and friends who sent an RSVP attended. After our ceremony and before the reception started, Karen and I did a tribute to victims and their families of 9-11. The song God Bless the U.S.A. by Lee Greenwood serenaded our guests. We took up a collection for a fund drive established by Karen’s company, which was matching all money donated 3 to 1. So our $400 collected turned out to be well over $1,200! We were so very grateful and blessed to have the response to those in need after 9-11. Our wedding day will always be remembered in part to our national tragedy.
From darkness comes light; and with every light there is hope. Hope for a better world, a world where people can live together in harmony. Are we striving for a “perfect world?” Yes! But we have to do whatever we can to get there. Influencing innovation is the result of delivering workshops or facilitating teams to think differently. One person, one group, one organization at a time. The time is now for all creativity and innovation professionals to lead change in every area of their lives. If we can lead change at our level, imagine what those in positions of power could do. Without a doubt, September 11, 2001 has forever changed how we live our lives.
We Will Never Forget!