I was going through some old files on my computer the other day and came across a number of “newsletters” that I wrote when I was a District Director for the Michigan Jaycees in 2002. During my term, I put together a monthly newsletter for the chapters that I served (basically all the Jaycee Chapters from Coldwater over to the Lake Michigan and from the state line up to Allegan) and part of the newsletter had a column I titled “Worthams Writings“.
I know, very witty title, eh?
At any rate, I figured I’d reprint part of the December column for kicks and giggles:
I figured I’d end this year with some of the lessons that I shared with you through this column. At first, I couldn’t remember all of the things that I said because I tried to do so much in our short time together. But then, just as I typed that last sentence, it hit me. That was the first thing that I wrote you about –
#1 – Pay Your Rent, ’cause there is No Day But Today! You can be bigger than you are if you dare yourself today You see, as officers in the Jaycees, we are tasked to empower our members with that spirit of the “dare.” Through the results of our projects, we help our communities. Through organizing those projects we dare our members to better themselves. Through our members bettering themselves, other people take notice of what the Jaycees are. Through their noticing us, we spread our dare.
#2 – From Collin Powell – Fit no stereotypes. Don’t chase the latest management fad. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier! Flitting from fad to fad creates confusions, reduce your creditability and drains your chapters. Sometime speed is more important than quality, sometimes an unapologetic directive is more appropriate than having a group discussion … true leaders honor their core values, but they also realize that flexibility is sometimes necessary to executve those values. in addition, the ripple effect of your enthusiasm and optimism is awesome. On the flip-side, so is your cynicism and pessimism. Leaders who whine will get the same from your chapter. Approach every task with a gung-ho attitude that says to your chapter, “We can achieve awesome goals, we can succeed” and watch that spread throughout the rest of your chapter.
#3 – From Mark Levin – Listen and empathize with your members and your prospects! You have to empathize with the prospective member. Levin writes, “This means that to really be able to recruit members for your organization you have to learn to THINK LIKE A PROSPECT, not act like a membership recruiter. To be able to retain members you have to think like a user of your organization’s programs and services, not like the producer of those programs and services.” If you can empathize with a prospective member, you’ll be able to understand what gets them to join. If you can empathize with your current members, you’ll be able to understand what will get them to stay.
#4 – You have to keep breathing This is something that occurred to me while watching the movie “Cast Away” … towards the end of the movie, the main character talks about what kept him alive on the island and how he will deal with the fact that his life and his fiancee has moved on without him. He says: “One day logic was proven all wrong because the tide lifted, came in, and gave me a sail. And now here I am. I’m back. In Memphis, talking to you. I have ice in my glass. And I’ve lost her all over again. I’m so sad that I don’t have Kelly. But I’m so grateful that she was with me on that island. And I know what I have to do now. I have to keep breathing because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring You have to keep breathing and you have to keep believing in the Jaycees … because no matter what happens, tomorrow the sun will rise – and you never know what the tide will bring.
#5 – Perfection is right under our noses My friend, Fr. John Fleckenstein told a story about a man who wanted to find a city where everything was perfect and better than what he had. So he haded out one day to search for the city. When night fell, he rested and to make sure tha the continued on the right away he placed his shoes so they were facing the direction he wanted to head.
During the night, three strangers came across the man and realized what he was trying to do. So to play a trick on the man, they turned his shoes around 180 degrees. When the man awoke, he put on his shoes and started out walking in that direction. Soon he came across the city he was looking for, but it was a familiar city, with familiar streets, and he knocked on a familiar door where he had diner with familiar friends. He realized that the place he was looking for was under his nose the entire time.
John taught me that it’s like that in our lives as well – if we empty ourselves out in service to others, then things will be better – right here, right now. The Jaycees can make our communities the “perfect” place that we want. All we have to do is pour ourselves into the best work of life!
#6 – Size really doesn’t matter if you use your voice! Another friend of mine, Fr. Ken Schmidt talked about a passage from the Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians. Back in the time of St. Paul, the community of Thessalonica was a small community and had a brand new small church organization. Despite the size (or lack thereof) they were the model of action for others, one that we should continue to follow today in our chapters.
Ken said, “Thessalonica was dominated by the huge Roman Empire. But they didn’t let the political situation overwhelm them or get in the way of living out the Gospel. And they’re praised for the action, actions which speak so loud and clear that word spread all over Greece, to other churches, and even the church in Rome realized that they should strive to follow Thessalonica’s example … Little Thessalonica made a difference! What actions do we take on behalf of those who have no voice … do we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed and just do nothing, or do we confront and repair the injustices in our midst.”
As we finish this year and plan for the next, let us not forget those who need the services of the Jaycees in our communities. And don’t let the size of your chapter keep you from making a difference. Don’t let size keep you from Paying Your RENT!
I really enjoyed being a MIJC District Director back in the day, as you can tell! 😉