Today was our annual Halftime planning session for our Winona team. This event is an opportunity for all of us to hit pause on reality for a handful of hours and spend time in thought looking at what subtle strategy changes could make all the difference in the second half of the year.

Mike (other Mike, not talking about myself in 3rd person) took the lead in planning this year’s event and kicked it off with a very cool activity. We hiked up the bluff on the east side of Winona and got up to the base of Sugar Loaf. Somehow I’d never taken that trail in my 20 years of working in the area. For those who may not know Winona well, Sugar Loaf is the remnant of a quarry on top of the first major bluff in town as you roll in. It is an iconic Winona image that has been featured on many logos in the area.

I’ve been up and down many bluffs in the area, but this one was a little different. There was something about standing next to this rocky outcrop that first caught my eye the very first time I drove through Winona was special. The panoramic view of Winona below was nothing short of breathtaking. The view up and down the Mississippi River Valley was mind-blowing. Seeing the bluffs as far as the eye could see was awesome. In my brief time up there I was reminded of almost all the reasons I am so in love with the driftless region.

The concept of starting with this hike was to take a moment to see Winona from a different perspective. When I looked down I didn’t see COVID, social distancing, social issues, or political frustration. Instead there was a beautiful community so blessed to be nestled into one of the most beautiful natural areas of the world. I saw a community of endless opportunities. In a flash I saw just how small I am in the big picture, but how I could be a part of a much bigger whole. My thoughts were focused on community, not individualism.

I wonder how this change in perspective made others feel? Would the community be a better place if everyone took a few minutes to head up on top of the bluff to take in the beauty around them, to see the bigger picture, and to treat the entire community with love? I’m positive that it would be difficult to hold onto a scarcity focused mindset when I see the abundance laid before us in the valley.

Grant, Mike D, & Katie taking in the view

Mike, thanks for a thought and spirit provoking start to our Halftime, it is greatly appreciated! Also, happy birthday dude!!! Thank you for sharing your birthday with us!


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