My Reaction to RIPE Barry Rassin’s Speech to the International Assembly

Trying to inspire people is work. And it is a skill not all people possess equally. Yes, anyone can inspire another by something they do or say. But what Rassin is calling for is the conscious acceptance of this task and the deliberate effort to be inspirational.

Barry Rassin’s speech to the International Assembly was about Inspiration. And it worked, at least for me! I frankly had despaired of ever hearing such a speech again from a RI President. He said what to me is obvious: that leadership’s first duty is to inspire and motivate Rotarians, to touch their hearts and minds with the zeal of the Rotary Movement. He reminded all of Rotary of who we are as Rotarians, and why we join together under the banner of Service Above Self. Continue reading “My Reaction to RIPE Barry Rassin’s Speech to the International Assembly”

My Rotary Narrative: An Attitude of Belief That Results in Action

We are so much more than just People of Action. Let’s face it, many people are that in many ways. We are people who believe in something bigger than just ourselves. This is what makes us Rotarians. I think that we too often forget that it is not just what we do; it is what we believe that defines us.

We humans love a story; in fact, we need them. They are what we use to explain just about everything we do and are. Within our lives we have a patchwork of smaller stories we have woven together into the one personal story we tell ourselves that defines us to ourselves, which I call our narrative. It is the one story that binds together all the other ones and allows us to make sense of who we are, what we’ve done, and what we want to be. Continue reading “My Rotary Narrative: An Attitude of Belief That Results in Action”

Make Rotarians the Prime Focus of Our Service Projects

It is service work such as this that can inspire the hearts of our existing Members, and the new recruit as well. If we are seen by our communities as a team of professionals taking on the hard stuff, we begin to have a story that not only deserves to be told, but will rally others to join. We need to challenge our Members to fully engage their minds and hearts, and not just rack up volunteer hours in warm body projects.

I don’t know how many Rotarians make New Year resolutions on July First to make Rotary better in some fashion. But as we start a new calendar year, I’d like to suggest a resolution for now. Although all Rotarians should make it, I ask leaders in Clubs and beyond to particularly take this to heart:

I resolve to work to make Rotarians the focus of our service projects. Continue reading “Make Rotarians the Prime Focus of Our Service Projects”

How Do We Make RotaryUS Sustainable?

We are faced with a daunting task if we wish to ensure that the Rotary Movement, the ideals that are at the core of what Rotarians believe in, will be not only be sustainable, but more widely valued then is the current case. We know our product is out-of-step with our culture simply because so many people try it and discard it. We all know what that would mean in our businesses.

From a RI publication, “Global Outlook, A Rotarian’s Guide To Sustainability” we learn two basic underpinnings of this theory. Meeting the needs of the present without compromising future generations’ ability to meet their own needs is the “classic” definition of sustainable. Environmental, economic, cultural, and social factors are the four broad areas of interest that are considered when one judges the sustainability of something. Using similar guidance from Rotary’s various writings on sustainability, can we begin to find a path to what we need to do in RotaryUS to reverse a decline in Membership that has been in effect since 1994? Continue reading “How Do We Make RotaryUS Sustainable?”

The Rotary That Used To Be

Caring Rotarians who are seeking to plug the membership hole try to be inventive with their solutions, looking at the world we have today and coming up with ways to make the Rotary they know fit into the culture they see. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to also look to our past, to see how Rotarians then thought of Rotary, and try adapting that conception of a much larger Movement to today’s world.

I came into possession of a hardcovered book first published in 1948: Service Is My Business. The author listed is Rotary International and no other names are evident, though RIP Percy Hodgson and James Watchurst are mentioned as the inspirations on the title page. The volume I have states it is from the 25th printing in 1981. Through its 13th printing in 1967, 270,000 copies were printed. Google Books has a copy available online. Amazon shows a soft covered version as well. Continue reading “The Rotary That Used To Be”

Rotary and World Culture

Understanding why something has stopped working is critical in finding the best way to getting it to work again. While official RI is promulgating changing or reinventing their Clubs with the hope that we’ll come across a magic sauce to turn the tide, it does so without an intellectual foundation. There are reasons for what we experience, and the starting point for solutions is in the numbers and trends here. We need to look and think deeper.

I have recently been interested in Rotary’s worldwide membership numbers to see what they tell us. While we may think that Rotary is one worldwide Movement, the independence of Clubs, the relative autonomy of Districts and Zones, and the diverse cultural environments, make following the Object of Rotary very different around the globe at any given time.

While the number of Rotary Members has been constant at 1.2 million for many years, as we learned from Director John Smarge’s groundbreaking speech in 2012, we churn (gain and lose) about 150,000 people a year. An analysis of member counts by country covering the 18 months between 1/2016 and 6/2013 reveals that most of the losses are from the westernized world in Rotary, while the offsetting gains are generally from India, Asia, and Africa. Continue reading “Rotary and World Culture”