Look to the Future

            There are some really great clubs out there, clubs you attend for a one-time make-up only to think for a fleeting instant that you wish you could live in that community so you could belong to that club. On the other hand, there are some pretty miserable clubs out there! Anyone who has made-up in other places, other countries, knows that a rush develops in your mind when you first realize the thought, “Geez! I wonder if I can leave before the program!”

Think what a problem of membership assimilation those latter clubs have. Every Rotarian in business knows a bad situation when he sees one, and while she’ll probably not go out of his way to tell potential members about a club with a bad history. When the subject comes up, he’ll hesitate slightly before praising Rotary – just enough, without actually saying anything negative, to show that he has some reservations.

What if you were in that club? What if the members nominated you for the presidency? What would you think?

Your first thought might be that you aren’t going to waste your time with these losers! They’ve had plenty of chances to come out of their self-induced slump, and never have. Why should you put forth the effort when no one else ever has?

The key is looking to the future. When you look to the future, the present takes care of itself. The future is exciting, filled as it will be with new friends, new experiences, new ways to do something important with your life! Want to get rid of your club’s bad reputation? Take the job; look ahead; then get ready to feel as good about something as you’ve ever felt in you life.

Focus on Function, Not on Form

            Though it’s form that gets us through our programs week and after week; though it’s form that defines our RI, District and Club Awards; though it’s form that determines much of what we in Rotary try to do, it’s function that gives us the derived meaning in all our lives.

            Someone pointed out to me once that it’s certainly important to be clear on the job to be done, but it’s similarly important that we be flexible on the way to do that job. Leadership, everyone will agree, is not a position. It is a process where leadership and followership constitute one seamless web. Without followers, leaders always fail. Leaders and followers tend to predict each others’ successes.

Today you lead, tomorrow you follow. It’s the function of leaders to meet goals; it’s the function of followers to see that leaders meet their goals. That’s not form at all. That’s the highest of functions in this or any other striving organization.

Fight the Temptation to Get Even

            If someone does you in a mean-spirited way, think of it as his or her problem, not yours. Trying to get even with a person who makes you look bad, who drops the ball on a project, who doesn’t do what he or she said was going to be done, is a true exercise in futility. You’re still going to look bad; the project still has to have been picked up by someone else; a failed job still has to be done right. Stretching your character traits to include revenge means you can never get ahead by getting even. Forget it. Remember the name of the person who did you in, and move on.

            They’ll get theirs eventually. Don’t be part of the game.


       Think about this person as a leader of your club: no administrative talent at all, a high voice, not much of an effective formal education, shy personally.

     That describes one of the greatest tailbacks in the history of the NFL. He played for the Chicago Bears until retiring to become the Athletic Director at the University of Kansas. Gale Sayers.

            What did Kansas do to make up for his administrative and educational deficiencies? They surrounded him with people who didn’t mind being anonymous and who would make up for Sayers’ admitted deficiencies, while leaving Sayers to do what he did best – attract young athletes to the University and then motivate them to excel.

            We all have shortcomings. It’s the job of real leaders to make up for them by finding people who care more for Rotary’s spirit and public image than they do for their own. Call them a Kitchen Cabinet, or just call them friends willing to help. Whatever you call them, it's backstopping, and it works.

Life Won’t Always Hand You What You Think You Deserve

            We in Rotary work darned hard and, dang it, we deserve recognition, right? However, sometimes we just have to persevere, even when the accolades don’t come our way. We have to keep at it even when sometimes people forget to thank us for our meaningful acts. We’re volunteers—all of us are volunteers! “Thanks” is sometimes all we ever get for our unselfish acts. But we have selfish people in our midst—not often, but sometimes. Let them get their undeserved praise, knowing full well who did the work, had the idea or corrected the bad idea. “Life Isn’t Fair,” the famous Clinton quote, should be on many members’ tombstones, as they struggle on through the tough projects that sometimes come our way. Some wise person once advised, “Don’t pursue glory; pursue excellence.”