02.22.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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I consider myself to be a systems guy. I like rules and I like procedure. Systems are in place for a reason. They have been tried, tested and tweaked to produce the best results. I can even make a case for a system to create a system. I follow the plan and I don’t like to be late. I drive the speed limit and I follow recipes.

To a degree, I’ve always been this way. When a teacher left the classroom, I was the one asked to take down the names of unruly students. Naturally, I became a hall monitor and was on track to become part of the elite crosswalk security team.

I took pride in being a good student and a good son, and I didn’t like it when anyone thought otherwise. I remember in the first grade my class was getting ready for an ice cream party. Students who stepped out of line weren’t invited to the party, so I made sure I was on my best behavior. Especially since my mom had volunteered to help with the event.

Two days before the party, the class was taking a test. The girl who sat in front of me turned around and asked me if I was having trouble with one of the questions. This was a clear violation of the rules and it was my job to let her know. As I was telling her she can’t talk during a test, the teacher saw me and told me the same thing. My name was written on the board under the heading “These People Have No Self Control” and I was banned from the ice cream extravaganza. I didn’t know what self-control was but I knew everyone had it but me, and that crushed my little rule-loving heart.

My family began to move around a lot and I hit a little rebellious phase. My grades dropped and I was more concerned with making friends than being my idea of “good.” By the time I hit high school I got back to my roots. I learned I could achieve my goals without being authoritarian about it. I learned that there could be exceptions to rules and improvements to systems. I’m reminded of this lately as I see divisiveness grow in our country.

I’m a member of Generation X. As young adults we were labeled as lazy and slackers. Sound familiar? I hear too much talk about how Millennials are lazy and entitled. We have a handful of Millennials working at Watermark and I don’t see it that way. They are hard-working, visionary and they are the future of this company. Sadly, I’ve started to see a backlash toward the older generation. Phrases are thrown around that the older generation has failed us. Those that work at Watermark and are older have immeasurable value to us. They have years of experience for us to draw upon. It appears that generalities form from generation to generation, but it’s really less about Millennials vs. Baby Boomers than it is just about older people thinking younger people are lazy and younger people thinking older people are failures.

Let’s throw generalities out the window. There are exceptions to every rule, even for a systems guy who hates to be late. Full disclosure, I’m late on my deadline for this column.

Leadership is not defined by tearing down one group to raise another. Leadership is defined by bringing people together. If the majority of Americans believe in sensible gun legislation, then that means there are allies in Baby Boomers and Millennials, Democrats and Republicans. In any cause, we need to find our allies and collaborate towards a system that works. We need to focus our passion on uniting like-thinkers, not dividing those with whom we disagree. Listen actively and act passionately.

It was active listening that brought about the In-Depth story for this issue. Ms. Darcel Stevens called us out on our lack of coverage of both the black community and the drag queens and entertainers that thrive in Central Florida. The message was accurate and we heard it. We will actively work to do a better job. For starters, we honor the many generations of black drag entertainers living in the Central Florida area with long overdue profiles of their success and future. Also in this issue, Watermark had the opportunity to speak with some big-name entertainers: the legendary Joel Grey and the hilarious Margaret Cho. In local news, HRC brings their annual Time to THRIVE conference to Orlando, while a Tampa Bay transgender woman and her wife are denied access to a church celebration.

We strive to bring you a variety of stories, your stories. I hope you enjoy this latest issue.

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