YOU CAN DO BIG THINGS! Let me tell you how…

by Monica Tierney, MBA, MEd, CPRE, Director of Parks & Recreation, Lower Makefield Township

It is time to think BIG and make a BIG impact on your community. The Power of positive thought is not made up it is a research-backed, proven method. So why do we fight it?

Most of the people reading this blog work for a nonprofit or government agency. Some are a little more seasoned than others, and many are completely burnt out and overworked. It is very easy to get caught in a cycle of preservation rather than innovation in our industry. The thing is there is no need to give up, if you think something is important speak up, set BIG goals, and push yourself to believe they are possible.

Research shows that mindset can have a significant impact on achieving your life outcomes. From health to financial success or general wellbeing, there are many studies that support that a positive mindset alone will determine your success.


If you believe you can succeed, you will. Once you believe something is possible doors will open for you that you never imagined would be available. You will look at different possibilities and find resources that will help get you to where you want to be.

Sometimes our biggest adversary is the one in the mirror. The idea that you are going to fail enters your thoughts and possibly your speech and eventually it will be true. This is a self-fulfilling prophesy. The good news is, if you believe that you are going to succeed, and you speak about your success, this will all come true for you.


Speak it into existence, learn more about others who have had success, excite people around you. Speak positively and look at yourself in the mirror and imagine yourself where you want to be 1, 2, 5, 10 years.

What good is a personal goal if you do not share the idea with others. The Truth is none of those doors will open for you if you don’t open the door first. Do not keep your goals or big picture items to yourself., share them with others. Start talking about it to your peers and discuss them with your most trusted advisors.


In my office, we call this the Universe but many call this a vision board. When we set the goal of CAPRA there were many more micro goals that came about as we discussed certain aspects of Accreditation. We started saying to each other, let’s just put that in the universe. Eventually, we decided that we would create a Universe where we can put everything in writing. Do you know what, many of the things we placed in the universe came true. Once the staff recognized the success of the vision board each individual employee added vision boards to their desks to set individual goals for themselves.


It is so easy to get wrapped up in a negative space, we all do it, me included. Recently I heard another Parks and Recreation Professional say “we all know committees are where things go to die.” If we think like that things will die with committees. If there is something you truly believe in, reframe your mindset, and discover how you can best work with the committee to make this a reality.

Now it is your turn, go make the impossible possible in your community. If you Believe It, Speak It, Write It and Reframe your Mindset you can build a bridge, conserve land, build a playground, a park, and accomplish things you never imagined were possible!

Research and Articles worth reading:

Crum, Alia J., and Ellen J. Langer. 2007. Mind-set matters: Exercise and the placebo effect. Psychological Science 18, no. 2: 165-171.

What Leading with Optimism Really Looks Like (

Positive Intelligence (


Leadership lesson from the Philadelphia Eagles

After watching the Superbowl, I thought to myself what makes the Eagles so loveable and successful as an organization even with a disappointing result. I believe much of it is their brotherhood, the very ethos of the organization and its culture.

Every organization has a culture within it where people are driven to meet like goals and have shared beliefs and expectations. It is the heartbeat of your organization, what makes it tick and what makes it successful.

Organizational culture starts with leadership. Jeffery Laurie, the Eagles Franchise owner, believes from the top down that everyone on his team is important to the success of the franchise. Laurie is known and often quoted discussing the culture of the Eagles organization. Culture is important to him, and he lets everyone know about it.

While the Eagles franchise may not be comparable to municipal work this philosophy can still be applied to Parks and Recreation. If you want to be successful, then surround yourself with good people. If you can hire, hire people who will work within your team. If your staff is not living up to expectations, then talk to them and train them.  

Have you ever considered your organizational culture?

A great way to get started is imperative that you inspire your team toward one unified mission, vision, and goal. Create opportunities for all your staff to have a successful season or year whatever it might be.

As a leader, it is important to elicit feedback from your staff about their feeling about your organization.  If you identify a problem within the organization, then develop a plan to address concerns. This will take time and consistency. Repeat this regularly to provide continued success within your team.  

While I watched the game, I saw similarities with my team and the time we spent together completing the Commission for Accreditation of Parks and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA). The time we spent allowed us to pay close attention to the culture of the Township and its Staff. With time, the staff knows they are all equally important to the success of the team no matter what their role.

Having the single purpose of completing Accreditation for the betterment of the township taught our team to show up for each other, cheer each other on and support each other when things were hard. Furthermore, we actively engage our elected officials, our Township staff, Township Committees, volunteers, interns, and anyone who we could inspire to be involved we asked to help. We created a culture of high expectations, success, and celebrated all milestones, big and little, together as a community.  

CAPRA can be considered the Superbowl of Parks and Recreation. It takes years of planning, training, and building your team and preparing for one trip that could make or break your organization. You will have wins and losses that will equip you for success in the future. Recently, in 2022 our Agency became the first agency in Pennsylvania to achieve CAPRA Accreditation. It all started with a small team to inspire a community to make it happen.

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