In late February, I had the pleasure of attending the 2017 Lonestar P.E.T.S. gathering in Dallas, Rotary’s annual President-elect Training Seminar. Each year the club’s President-elect attends this meeting in order to be trained on the duties of a Rotary Club President.
I was honored to meet and hear from several fascinating people about what Rotary means to them. Throughout the weekend there were also several impressive keynote addresses. If there’s one thing that Rotary Clubs do well, it is secure inspiring speakers for their meetings.
It was my pleasure to hear from Dr. Mouzon Biggs, a long-time Rotarian and clergyman known for his speaking prowess; Past Rotary International President Richard King, the attorney and comedian who remains one of Rotary’s most sought-after speakers; Sylvia Whitlock, who fought 30 years ago to gain women’s acceptance into these service clubs; current Rotary International Vice President Jennifer Jones; and incoming Rotary International President Ian Riseley.
Mr. Riseley hails from Australia. He is a sharp, witty and smooth-talking Aussie; a conservationist with a goal to leave the earth in better shape than he found it. One of his goals for his presidency is to see one tree planted for each of the 1.2 million Rotarians across the globe.
This year’s theme, as chosen by the incoming president, is “Rotary: Making a Difference.”
This year we will also celebrate 30 years of women in Rotary. In 1987 women were welcomed into our service organizations, and there can be no doubt that we’ve become better for it.
We spoke about ensuring that our clubs are making a difference in the communities that we serve. We discussed the importance of being a vibrant club, guided by vibrant leadership.
Vibrant clubs are full of vibrant people, and vibrant people are extraordinary, uncommon if you will.
“Let us remember that the great human advances have not been brought about by mediocre men and women. They were brought about by distinctly uncommon men and women with vital sparks of leadership. Many of these great leaders were, it is true, of humble origin, but that was not their greatness.”
This passage comes from a speech by President Herbert Hoover originally given in a 1948 commencement address.
The nation’s 31st President continued, “When we are sick, we want an uncommon doctor; when we have a construction job to do, we want an uncommon engineer, and when we are at war, we want an uncommon general.”
Whatever these forces may be, he said, we are striving to become uncommon men and women, and the future is our hands.
For our Rotary club to be uncommon, we must serve with conviction, vision and commitment.
The charge to Rotary Clubs across Texas is to consider the clubs we once were, the clubs we are now, and the clubs we are going to be. Each club must understand their own personality.
Rotary is a wheel, not a box, and thinking outside of the box is encouraged.
Wheels move. It’s incumbent upon us to consider the legacy we are leaving for the Rotarians that are to come behind us. We are inspired to think beyond the 12-month frames of our president years and begin to look three to five years down the road as we form the narrative of our club.
We will build that narrative by telling our stories, our Rotary stories. We all know what each other do for a living. But do we know what makes each of us a Rotarian?
I joined Rotary in July 2014, when I came into the club to fill an empty seat that my company was paying for. Even so, I didn’t truly become a Rotarian until November of that year.
After our annual fundraiser that year, I was able to see the good work that comes from the efforts of my fellow Rotarians – the good work that this club does, absent of pomp and circumstance, to make a difference in this community. That’s when Rotary truly called me.
We should all have our own Rotary story. It’s not enough to invite others to join us for a good lunch and a networking opportunity. We need to promote to others why we’re Rotarians. When we start with why we’re far more likely to inspire others to serve as well.
Rotary is the best-kept secret in the world. Let’s tell the Rotary story in 2017 and 2018 so that more people will be inspired to serve.
Interested in Rotary?
The Bay City Rotary Club meets at Noon each Tuesday at Fat Grass, 1717 Seventh Street, in Bay City. Please be my guest and come join us.
Brandon Cox is the President-elect of The Bay City Rotary Club. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @BrandonJCox on Twitter for tweets about anything and everything, including Rotary.