You Can't Take It Back

As many of you know, I have the privilege of speaking, literally, to thousands of high school students each year as a presenter for’s Making It Count Programs. During these programs one of the nuggets we caution students about is the importance of managing your personal image ONLINE.

Always curious about where my own “internet fingerprint” may turn up, I have a Google Alert set up to comb the web for sites where my name shows up. Over the past year, I’ve learned there are a handful of us around the globe who share the name “Scott Cooksey” (including one “Scott Cooksey” whose brother has the same name as MY younger brother-VERY unexpected.) There is a (retired?) soccer, goal-keeper in the U.K., a Dallas, TX area tattoo artist, and a fellow at Texas Tech University who seems to have a good reputation. I digress…

My latest Alert, which I received in an email this morning, linked to an entry I’d sent to the Tulsa World’s Opinion page back in 1997. I’d forgotten ALL ABOUT the post:

Trim elsewhere
Woodward Park is a gem, and deserves the love and care it has earned over the years as a wonderful, beautiful place in our city. Reckless acts of an arborist with an itchy chain-saw finger are simply that: reckless.

As an alternative to this condition, might I suggest the arborist look to more obvious eyesores such as the weed/trees standing tall along the train track in the middle of the Broken Arrow Expressway. While he’s at it, head on toward downtown to the south side of the Inner Dispersal Loop and consider doing some trimming of those “trees” growing up the retaining wall on the sides of the highway. They look awful.

As for spending city money for beautification, let’s fund those mowers to keep our roadsides looking good all the time; not just mowing them a week prior to a major golf event. It’s nice that the visitors get to see how nice our city looks once or twice a year, but if we could keep it looking good for the residents, that’s even better.

Scott Cooksey, Tulsa

Re-reading the article reminded me that no matter HOW or WHERE you post your thoughts, rants, opinions, and more on the ‘net, once you’ve published it, there’s no taking it back.

The lesson today, reminds me of some critical advice I’ve learned which can best be summed up as a three step plan for voicing your opinion:

  1. Be relevant – Make sure the issue you are raising is clearly articulated and one which truly matters.
  2. Provide a solution – No one likes a person who simply complains. Make suggestions on how the issue might be resolved. Even if your recommendation is not taken, it may still push efforts to implement a successful remedy in a productive direction.
  3. Listen to others – When you are the one in position to influence change, remember how appreciative you were when someone at least took the time to hear your ideas out before taking action. It’s an easy way to become known as a concensus builder – a powerful leadership trait.

For those of you curious, about 7 months after the above Opinion column was printed, Tulsa fell under the spell of Mother Nature’s response to the tree issue with an ice storm of disastrous proportions which took months to clean up. The park still looks great, but even previously healthy trees suffered severe damage. I guess it goes to show, you can’t prepare for everything!