The CEO of one of our area’s largest companies approached me at a business reception recently and said he was concerned about Birmingham.
I’ve had lots of people tell me they were worried about Birmingham, but never like this.
He continued, “You know how we’ve always suffered from low self-esteem and have little confidence in ourselves? Well, I think we may now have gone too far in the opposite direction.”
Wow! His statement caught me by complete surprise. I’ve worried about Birmingham for many reasons, but never about being too cocky?
But his remarks gave me pause to reflect.
There’s no doubt Birmingham’s gone through a transformation—a sea change in attitude and in self-confidence.
Until last year when the national media focused on Birmingham, the story always seemed to center on Bull Conner, Civil Rights, and the obligatory black and white film footage of dogs and fire hoses.
Now all of a sudden, we appear to be the world’s media darling. Over the past year we’ve received a barrage of positive press from well-respected publications like National Geographic, USA Today, The New York Times, The LA Times and the Huffington Post.
In fact there have been so many positive pieces about Birmingham that many folks here may have quit paying attention. It certainly doesn’t stop traffic like it once did.
Then there are all our successful projects and the many more on the drawing board–Railroad Park, Regions Field, Rotary Trail, the Lyric Theatre, Publix/Starbucks, The Thomas Jefferson, the Alabama Power Powell Avenue Steam Plant, Pizitz, The McWane Center Itty Bitty Magic City, and thousands of residential units. Even the Uptown District has been a financial and entertainment success.
My goodness–we even landed the 2021 World Games.
Birmingham can seem to do no wrong! But is it possible to maintain this kind of momentum without a misstep?
Not hardly. That’s not real life.
Not every announced project’s going to happen and some of our developments will fail.
So what? Even cities we covet like Nashville and Charlotte don’t bat 100%.
So, yes, Birmingham’s going to stumble. And with our fragile self-esteem, how are we going to react?
Success is getting up one more time than you fall down. It’s not how many times you fall down that counts, it’s how many times you get up.
Birmingham once was truly the “Magic City,” but we couldn’t sustain our growth. We’ve always been on the verge of greatness–but something always seems to get in the way.
Let’s keep plugging along–but understand that we’ll have our ups and downs.
Let’s manage our expectation and then maybe one day Birmingham will reach its potential.
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David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown, a co-founder of Buzz12, a division of Intermark Group, and co-CEO of AmSher Compassionate Collections. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).