By Daniel Constantinopoli (OIS)
Steve Jobs, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Apple Inc. once said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” The video you are about to see is me connecting my dots which have guided me here, writing my first article for the FDOT Newsletter.
Now that you have seen my dots, or my road map, I would like to share and express with you each of my dots with Step Up these past several months. At first, I wasn’t sure what Step Up was about or that had been an idea introduced to the agency in 2011. This self-reflection alone was a realization factor as an employee I must change. I must keep moving forward and begin to fully engage myself in the way we do things around here. Change can never occur, if we are not willing to change ourselves first. We are the source, we are the ideas, and we are the answers to the problems.
This motto has become my vision from the day I met with Ed McKinney to discuss what Step Up represents and the power it can deliver when you have the backing of the employees who work for the organization. I will also tell you I will never forget wearing my Captain America costume during this meeting since it coincidentally happened on Halloween (No, I do not normally go to work as Captain America. But, I will say it felt awesome wearing it!). After the meeting with Ed, I realized Step Up embodies every core value we have as individuals, and it is our choice as human beings to decide whether or not we want to fix the problems or become part of them. From that moment forward, I decided as an OIS Ambassador, I would embrace the challenge.
The human mind is without a doubt the most powerful tool on this planet. It has the ability of using the imagination to make something from nothing. We have the ability to create roads, bridges, and cities based around our thoughts and ideas. Below is one of my favorite quotes by Walt Disney that represents the power of curiosity and imagination when mixed together:
“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we are curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney
It was not until the Ambassadors started to meet and discuss the layout for our Step Up Workshop did I truly understand what Walt meant about curiosity leading us down new paths. As the meetings progressed and we began to establish a relationship with one another to freely express our thoughts and opinions to the group without the fear of self-doubt and insecurities of what others have to say, we realized creativity and imagination can only exist if we are courteous, professional, and respectful to one another. We also recognized areas of improvement we may have never noticed before when we spoke our minds. Each of us have our own unique way of thinking, and if we can tap into the minds of each employee who works for the organization, we can truly find the answer of how can we get from point A to B the most efficient way possible. We need to learn how to build the foundation for these new roads and keep moving forward as One DOT.
As our ideas amongst the group began to form and synergy began to take over the room, bold and innovative ideas were born. A few examples were Linda Jimenez finding a location that not only was thirty minutes from the office, but also a facility that could accommodate the amount of attendees, parking, and most importantly well within our budget. Angie Stevenson thought outside the box and organized lunches to be catered to the facility. Another task which was one of the hardest task to accomplish for the Step Up Workshop was finding a guest speaker who would be willing to speak, and Roger Roscoe nailed it! Roger was able to use his magic and have Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor as our guest speaker.
Cauline Holdren was willing to help out the Step Up team to assist in creating the logo you see today. Cauline’s logic and creativity is the perfect combination to create the right picture for the right moment. In fact, verbatim when being asked if she could assist us with a logo, Cauline said, “If you have an idea, I can make it happen.” Now that is what it means to go the distance: A person who is willing to be involved, accept ideas, be creative to the ideas being presented, and innovate the ideas with everybody’s input, meanwhile, keeping the vision intact.
One of the last dots to connect was the Step Up Workshop. The OneDOT philosophy that was displayed amongst the Step Up team and the Workshop’s participants was phenomenal. Everybody treated each other with respect and built a foundation of uniformity. The activities within the workshop were extremely effective with revealing the creative side of the managers and supervisors. I learned so many “interesting” uses for a paper clip that I will never look at one the same again. The “marshmallow challenge” was without a doubt my favorite activity. The different teams had to work together to create a tower made of spaghetti and then place a marshmallow on top. It was interesting to see the perseverance for success, the courage to keep trying, and the strength to keep moving forward as one in all the groups.
Brian Blanchard, Assistant Secretary, explained how we need to collaborate with one another and question what we do sometimes. We also learned we need to channel our energy, trust our intuition and step outside the box with the willingness to fail, so we can create more effective methods and practices. Finally, the Step Up Group was given a fabulous presentation by Larry Ferguson, a DOT employee whose career started here at District 7 and ultimately came to end here at District 7. Larry explained in life you need to have the heart of a penguin with the perseverance of a lion, and always find a balance between the rules and common sense because we never know when a tiger will show up. We need to be guided by what we love, our passion, and never have a fear of failing because when we stop thinking and looking for better ways, we no longer understand what our true purpose is in life to be successful. Never be afraid to persevere where others or yourself have failed and always look for improved ways of handling situations.
The last dot which was the most nerve wrecking, adrenaline pumping, and best dot of them all was speaking in front of almost 200 people. I have never spoken in front of a crowd before, but I knew accepting the challenge and putting forth every effort possible, I would succeed. Not only did I succeed, but so did Katasha Cornwell who showed me what it means to take pressure and use it as fuel to your engine. Angie Stevenson presented to the group what it truly means to lead and not manage, and Wanda Nanney persevered with a crash course on Juice training. I am so proud of all four of us because we were willing to go the distance and make a statement.
Finally, the most important lesson that came from the District Seven Step Up meeting was to be consistent, predictable, and repeatable in our actions to find new ideas; meanwhile, being courteous, professional, and respectful to one another in the process, so bold and innovative ideas will form, we can become an inspiration to those around us. Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to fail in life because we can only learn and become stronger from our failures to reach success we want. I believe in each and every single one of you because we are family, and we are One DOT.