A friend asked me to describe my Rotary moment, the spark or epiphany when you recognize the primary reason for joining Rotary.
I discovered mine in Victoria during the Imagine Rotary Canada Tour. Rotarians stood on the harbor dock, welcoming RI Rotary President Jennifer Jones and her delegates. The event preparation was unlike a Conference or other training; instead, we had the privilege of enjoying a Rotarian reunion with District 5020 and President Jennifer, her husband Nick, and her envoy. When President Jennifer walked from the plane, she welcomed us as though she had known us for years. Over the day, I watched how she interacted with Rotarians, encouraged them, and listened to their ideas, positively and kindly.
Further, her leadership style intrigued me. Jennifer is an extraordinary leader, not afraid of work or joining in to inspire others to participate. She joined in filling boxes of produce at The Mustard Seed and ate the lunch prepared by a chef from donated food. The bonds between the delegates were harmonious. Watching the interactions made me wonder about integrating that style into club culture.
Being my son’s Chief of Staff for the governor year of 2023-24, I was enthusiastic to witness how Nick, her husband, supported her endeavors. He was her aid, giving her respectful space with polish and subtlety. The bond between this delegation was evident and delightful, allowing Jennifer to be spontaneous and interact with Rotarians and the day’s events. As the expression goes, pictures speak a million words, so I snagged Caleb’s photos taken that day to illustrate my premise.
Leadership lessons announced themselves throughout the day’s observations, interactions, and viewing of Caleb’s photo collection. After a brilliant day, here is the list of club applications.
Lesson number one: The uncontrollables cannot be predicted or controlled. They will always be present and when they appear, handle them with, as John Glenn said, “be gracious, forthright, and magnanimous.” Sometimes mechanics break down, and pizza doesn’t arrive.
Rule two: Be resilient, keep positive, move forward, and know that how you handle issues will reveal how much confidence others have in you.
Rule three: Be responsible to each other and act like great teammates. Our woven strength lies within our mutual relationship. Rotarians work for the greater good of Rotary International, and RI works for the Rotarians. “One for all and all for one.”
Rule four: Stick your neck out. A leader takes responsibility for the failures and does not cast the blame.
Rule five: Rotary does not give one character, but it does allow Rotarians to show if you have any. A supporting team is a form of leadership.
1. One Rotarian counted 120 steps from the beach, where Jennifer dipped her toe.
2. Everyone loves Joan!
Those who selected President Jennifer chose well. She and the delegates solidify the hearts of true Rotarians, in our relationships, our business dealing, with each other, communities, and the world.
May this Rotary year be filled with the happiness and purpose realized from the last day of the Imagine Rotary Canada Tour. These genuine Rotarian-spirited people are pure at heart in their pursuits to serve, not cynical, compassionate, comfortable in their positions, and have servants’ hearts.