Today I was asked, “Do you like living in Dickinson?” In order to not be mean and unfriendly, I usually say, “I can make more money in Dickinson right now, than I can back in Idaho, but it has been difficult.”
Usually, I will give one or two examples of how it has been difficult. Today I said, “In the apartment building where I live in downtown Dickinson, there is a lot of noise, fighting, drug dealing, and theft. I wish that I was back a my own house, where I didn’t have to deal with neighbors like this.”
If I were to tell the truth, it would be something like this, “With the shortage of women, lack of attractive women, unfriendly women in restaurants and bars, and the Police trying to stop everyone they can, living in Dickinson has been like being in prison.”
Most of the time, when local people ask me how I like living in Dickinson, from the way that they act when they ask me, it appears that they are expecting me to say how nice it is, or how great it is. This is one of the reasons why I sometimes write that the people in Dickinson are not even aware that Dickinson is any different from anywhere else.
I have tried to come up with a way, at least in my mind, to quickly sum up how Dickinson, North Dakota is different than the area of Idaho where I had been living. The most important thing that I could say about the area of Idaho where I had been living, was that it was very “Progress” oriented.
What I mean by “Progress” oriented, is that anything that was accomplished that was good, it was appreciated, celebrated, or valued. For instance, a new house being built, a new barn being built, a road being paved, a new Doctor moving to town, a new Dentist moving to town, someone’s kid graduating from college, someone’s kid becoming an engineer, someone’s kid becoming a lawyer, all of these types of things were appreciated, celebrated, and valued.
The reason why, was because the people believed that when these things happened, everyone was making progress, things were improving, things were getting better, these were signs of success, people are prospering.
Another reason why accomplishments, especially other people’s accomplishments, were appreciated, celebrated, and valued, was the belief that surely these things will help and benefit all of us.
The area of Idaho where I had been living, was about 60% to 70% Mormon. Idaho has more Mormons in total, and more Mormons per-capita, than Utah does. The Mormons are very “Progress” and “Results” oriented. What this is like, is that Mormons want other people to do well and prosper, and together everyone can do well and prosper.
Just like in every religion or culture, there are some members that don’t do what they are supposed to be practicing, but in general, the Mormon idea that everyone can do well together, is something that you can see working when you live in a Mormon community.
If you don’t want to believe what I am writing, you can read the book by Blaine Lee titled, “The Power Principle, How To Influence With Honor.” Blaine Lee was a Mormon, and an associate of another Mormon named Stephen Covey who wrote the very famous book titled “The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People”.
When I read Blaine Lee’s book “The Power Principle, How To Influence With Honor” when I was about 27 years old, it changed the way I thought and behaved. At first, I had a hard time believing what Blaine Lee was teaching, that one of the best and most important ways that you can be successful, was to get out of other people’s way and help other people to be successful.
I am not going to dwell on this principle right now, but this really works. Especially in the work place, you would be amazed to see how much “Progress” and “Results” can be made by getting out of co-workers or subordinates way, and helping them to be successful.
For instance, this is a really good example, when I was a construction superintendent and a construction project manager at a very young age, I would talk to the foremen to see how they wanted to handle something, and then say O.K., that’s a good idea. When I asked them what they thought, and what they wanted to do, and they came up with solutions, and I said that’s a good idea go ahead, most of the time, everybody started coming up with their own solutions to problems.
The big change that occurred, was soon, there weren’t really any problems on any of my construction projects, the work moved right along. The laborers saw a problem or difficulty approaching, and they thought of their own solution, because they were allowed to, they were encouraged to, they felt empowered, they felt like they were freed to do their work. The same thing happened for the foremen, and the superintendents. They were allowed to come up with their own solutions and implement them, so they did.
Who would have thought, that just getting out of people’s way, and helping them to be successful, would help me? My projects went so well, that I was promoted to project manager, received higher pay, received large bonuses, got a new company Jeep Cherokee to drive, and I was specifically requested by company owners for difficult projects.
To reiterate, the Mormons, the culture of Idaho where I had been living, was very “Progress” and “Results” oriented. Where achievement and accomplishments, especially other people’s accomplishments, were appreciated, valued, and celebrated, because there was the belief that these things improved life for everyone.
In contrast, in Dickinson, and western North Dakota, people act like they hate each other, people act like if someone else fails, that this helps them succeed. And, if someone else succeeds, this makes them fail.
This is why in Dickinson and western North Dakota, people do not cooperate with each other, co-workers do not cooperate with each other, co-workers undermine each other, co-workers withhold information, workers try to find something about their co-workers to fault them for or use against them.
Just recently, which I wrote about in a previous blog post, another contractor got one of their work trucks stuck on a job site. I let them borrow my personal tow strap and tow rope, helped them hook up the trucks, got them to try a different way when it didn’t work, and was ready to get the site owner to come down with their front end loader. When I realized that I was the only other person left at the site that day, I was figuring on having to use the front end loader myself. However, I was informed the following day, that if I had used the loader, I would have been fired immediately.
I am repeating this story, because in the past, I saw that work got accomplished much better when people came up with their own solutions to problems, and were allowed to solve work site problems. When you start being nasty to people who dare to come up with solutions to problems that arise on the work site, people will revert back to standing around, waiting, not doing anything, not offering information, not offering solutions that they know of, because they are scared of getting in trouble.
So, in Dickinson, this is not a culture of “Progress” or “Results”, it is a culture of trying to keep other people down, keep other people in their place, and someone else accomplishing something or succeeding, is seen as being detrimental. This is one of the reasons why people in Dickinson hate people with a college education so much, they see someone else’s accomplishments, as being detrimental to them.