Leadership — Take the Challenge

by Mila Besich, Mayor, Town of Superior

How can the year 2020 be described? Extraordinary… unbelievable… arduous… challenging… All of these adjectives are accurate characterizations of the past seven months of 2020.

There is not one person who could have anticipated what 2020 would have had in store for us. Mayors, councilmembers and school board members across our nation have been tasked with making decisions for their constituents that truly are unprecedented. Business owners have been equally challenged to pivot and adjust their business and customer service models to survive.

Our school-age children were compelled to stay at home and learn online. Parents became teachers while trying to maintain their jobs. Others were furloughed or laid off. Frontline medical workers found themselves in the pandemonium of endless shifts with an onslaught of patients.

No one has been unaffected by the impact of the pandemic. Without a doubt, how we function as a society has irrevocably changed.

Despite the difficulties of this year, we can find encouragement and hope in how leaders, business owners and ordinary citizens have risen to the occasion to help their communities, their employees, and their families and neighbors find new and different ways to navigate through this crisis.

My biggest takeaway from this experience is appreciation. Appreciation for the checks and balances that help maintain a measure of order and keep things moving forward. Appreciation for technology that has enabled us to stay connected to sources of information needed to make informed decisions, and most importantly to stay connected with our family and friends.

Appreciation for those working in the medical professions, essential workers in our retail and service industries, and others who work selflessly to keep our world functioning. Most of us have lived life assuming there would always be enough of everything.

The rapid upending of our world as we knew it has been challenging for everyone. Still, it has compelled us to ask, “How do we evolve through this and emerge smarter and stronger as a society?”

It is easy to get caught up in the unending barrage of rhetoric and day-to-day challenges that all of us encounter as we manage our lives, work and businesses. The daily death toll and positive cases are indeed tragic. Everyone knows someone who has been affected by COVID-19.

I have lost friends, worried for family members who are recovering and, just like the rest of us, I am fearful of this virus. In these moments of sadness, anger, frustration and fear for those of us tasked with leading, we have had to stay focused on making the best decisions with the information we have to protect those whom we serve.

I am proud to serve alongside some genuine exemplars of leaders in public service, in business and in education. We have had to make hard choices along the way, and the journey is not over yet. Most of all, I appreciate the encouragement and support that has been extended to me, the Town Council, our Town manager and staff from my fellow mayors, councilmembers, school boards, and most especially, from our Superior residents.

While we are not yet through this storm, only by working together and staying focused on the greater good will we emerge from these challenging times a more resilient and vibrant community. Perhaps we will be battle-fatigued, but we most assuredly will be stronger and wiser than ever before.

Stay healthy and safe. Together, we are Superior!

PHOTO BY Cat Brown, 2016