Sam Foreman is the 2016 Young Professionals of Wichita chairman. Sam was asked to share his thoughts on Wichita with the Wichita Eagle. Below is the content of the article.

I dare you.

Imagine a perfect Wichita community. One filled with limitless opportunities for your family, friends and business. What if I told you that image is within our reach? Skeptical? I believe it is within our reach. This transformation can only be achieved if we create a strong enough positive perception about what is possible here to unlock the potential of our community. Only you can make that happen.

As a transitioning Midwestern manufacturing community, we face very real and significant challenges. But it is time to dare to dream. A century ago, the legends of Wichita built Cessna and Stearman from dreams, rocketing Wichita from cow town to world leader in advanced manufacturing. And each major innovation and success along the way has been built by Wichita dreamers creating opportunities for others. We are Wichitans, and we build dreams into opportunities. It’s time to embrace that legacy of opportunity creation, and become the Opportunity Capital.

We all know you can do anything in Wichita. But opportunity is about more than can. It’s about attainability – shortening the distance from Dream to Done. There are many factors that move us from Dream to Done, but the most important for us right now is perception.

Why perception? Because it limits or enhances every opportunity. It destroys or inspires dreams. And it contributes to the creation of community loathing or community pride. An opportunity’s full potential can only be reached if people start with a belief that a positive outcome is not only possible, but probable. Negative perception destroys a community’s greatest asset: its dreams. And these dreams are essential to creating progress through innovation and creativity.

If positive perception is strong enough, it creates community pride, which changes everything. It creates a shared, positive community identity; takes dreams to the next level; and increases buy in. Community pride creates a momentum that grows dramatically faster the more widely it is shared until it reaches the point where it is certain the community will become the image created by that pride. Negative perception creates the opposite effect.

That’s why perception is so important. That’s why you are so important.

Perception, positive or negative, is created through daily interactions. You are the only one who can reach your circle of influence, and you have something incredible to give to them. You can provide them with the information and opportunities that will give them an amazing Wichita experience. In the process you’ll create the positive perception – the community pride – that will take us to the next level.

Here are some specific things I’m doing to tackle the perception challenge:

▪ Helping those with an already positive perception to transform their circles of influence,

▪ Connecting people with less-than-positive perceptions to information and opportunities, and

▪ Using the platforms I have access to, such as Young Professionals of Wichita, to engage others and change perceptions.

Our community faces major challenges, and we have significant progress to make. But the solution to the perception challenge is right in front of us. Is the Opportunity Capital more than just a dream? Make that dream reality. I dare you.

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