"Why should I stay in the New River Valley?" asks Allen J. Fuller, III.
To me, underlying the question is the premise that people should stay somewhere and need reasons to do so. Why should I stay in the New River Valley of Virginia? In Silicon Valley? In Paris? In Borneo?
Should anyone stay anywhere?
Although I've seen no official announcement that a local company's founders have moved to the headquarters of the company that acquired it, their Twitter streams self-report that they are no longer local residents.
Should they have stayed?
"Should" is a form of "shall" which implies "an order, promise, or obligation."
Try these on for size: "I order you to stay. You promised you would stay. You're under an obligation to stay."
The heaviness of those sentences saps my spirit and creativity. And Allen points out that's the opposite of what people seek: "…inspiration, people to dream and work with and businesses and localities that value their contributions."
In his latest post, Allen refers to my latest post in our dialogue on regional economic development, An Entrepreneur in Every Garage. While that post discusses economic development in the New River Valley of Virginia and, therefore, garages in that locale, I'm glad to have an opportunity to clarify. I think developing a culture of entrepreneurship as a model could fuel economic development in any locale's garages. My company just happens to be currently based in this locale.
Allen asks, "So I ask, if you had the chance to talk to someone under 30…"
Having been fortunate to live a half century of an adventure-filled life in many places, I find myself less and less willing to give advice to anyone. The more I see, the less I have to say and the more respect I have for a an individual's life path.
If I had a chance to talk to my 30-year-old self, I would say this: "Spend less thought and heart and time on 'should' and 'obligation.' Give that thought and heart and time to living, loving and working in ways that are meaningful to you."
I have found living a meaningful life is not place-dependent. I can stay or I can go. Both work.
Allen continues, "So I ask, if you had the chance to talk to someone under 30, single and talented, who felt that trying to live and work in the NRV was a waste of time, what would you say?"
I'd say I think the wording of that question might contain its own answer.
Photo credit: Jennifer Greger