For me to feel optimistic I must trust. Without trust my optimism waivers. That is what I find myself pondering after this year's (2013) State of the City Address by our Mayor of London, Ontario (Joe Fontana). Having attended these events regularly, I'm noticing a different feeling leaving the event this year. I'm feeling subdued and reflective. I noticed that the audience also seemed subdued as well. While I can't comment on what the room of 1,200 attendees was feeling I'll share my own honest perspective. I'm a London lover through and through. I feel positive about how we are evolving as a city. That positivity is fueled by the groundswell of caring, compassionate and creative people who are choosing to engage, leverage their ideas into action, and who believe that we can be an awesome, leading city. With their leadership and creativity I feel my optimism and faith in our future soar.
Mayor Joe Fontana called for all of us to be optimistic because he is. Herein lies my personal challenge. For me to feel genuine, authentic optimism I must also trust the person inviting me to stand there. As our Mayor spoke he heralded the values of the City of London -- community engagement, good government, respect & integrity, fiscal responsibility, and supportive and diverse workplace. As the Mayor, I expect him to be a model of all these values at the highest level. The reality is that I do not see him in personal integrity with these values - specifically those of respect and integrity and fiscal responsibility. Given the fact that there are charges against him for fraud and breach of trust, he is not being a good model of those values in his personal life. So, I am feeling disappointed.
My greatest wish for all of London, Ontario is that we can be genuinely optimistic and enthusiastic about our future. Part of what it will take to maximize our potential is a new era of positivity, goodwill, and credibility of leadership. Yes, I do have high standards for the role of our Mayor. I expect someone to demonstrate good character and a high level of competence (essential elements for creating trust). I expect a leader to walk the talk and authentically live the values of our city. With this integrity in leadership I believe we will be more powerful in our collaborations and creativity, we'll be more productive and opportunities will soar. When we have a leader who understands that the path to authentic optimism is by building trust then we will have made a monumental shift forward. This type of leader will inspire people to turn optimism into real and measurable outcomes. That is when London, Ontario will achieve its true potential and be the great city we know it can be.