Saturday, November 22, 2014

Building a culture of leadership development... now!

IN MY first official comment as Governor Elect, I took the opportunity to remind people that we Optimists are people who make things happen. I argued then, that by the very nature of the word, Optimism means it is always time for action. 
Here is a quotation from the incredible body of work by Christian D. Larson that I believe ties a couple tenets of the Optimist Creed with the need to ACTION those tenets. Larson says, The true optimist not only expects the best to happen, but goes to work to make the best happen. The true optimist not only looks upon the bright side, but trains every force that is in him to produce more and more brightness in his life…
The ways in which Optimists go about producing more and more brightness in our lives include creating programmes that serve children, because they are indeed our sunshine. It is also  about recruiting more people to become Optimists, not merely because we want to increase our numbers, but because we know that more hands help us serve more children.
As Optimists, we dare not forget that everything we do today is in the hope that tomorrow will be better; and so we must do what it takes to keep the brightness going and spreading. We dare not forget either, that our strength is dependent on the quality of our members, the reach of our programmes, as well as our culture of leadership development.
Nothing becomes a way of life overnight. If we want a culture of good strong leadership we must build it. We must be constant in doing the things that will perpetuate an environment in which good strong leadership will emerge and be practiced. It is in that vein that I call on Caribbean Optimists to identify our future leaders, now! 
Every good organisation, whether they have short or long term leadership changes, makes the effort to ensure that its new leaders are able to hit the ground running. From the very start of their tenure the leaders must be ready. We as Optimists are no different. In fact, Optimist International expects and encourages a smooth and seamless transition from one administrative year to the next. That is why the mechanisms are in place for early identification of future leaders.
President-Elect Dave (fourth left) with his 'assistant coaches'
at the recent VP-Elect Training including
Southeaster region VP-Elect James Adams (l)
One tried, tested and proven approach to achieving a seamless transition is the officer-elect post. The practice is clearly evident at the international level. The President-elect, Vice presidents-elect, and Governor-elect are all identified up to 15 months before his or her administrative year. That timing guarantees the incoming officers a full transition year to understudy the incumbent, to grasp the magnitude of their jobs, and to plan and project with a team that will support the mission of making Optimist International the best voluntary service organisation in the world. 
Simply put, the officer-elect post highlights four critical elements of leadership transition:
  1. It allows for specific training activities at the local, regional and international levels;
  2. It facilitates  active participation in the organisation’s administrative processes;
  3. It provides invaluable opportunities for self-directed learning and planning; and
  4. It supports the promotion of good governance and democratic ideals within our own movement.
We have all heard the stories of clubs and zones coming to the end of their administrative year, and no one is making himself or herself available to lead. The negative consequences of identifying the incoming officers too late in the year are evident; and so we won’t dwell on them. As Optimists, we identify the weaknesses of the past merely as a platform for moving on to the greater achievements; and so I wish to underscore the tremendous worthiness and benefits of early nomination, selection and election of our leaders at all levels. Again these benefits include:
  • EARLY TRAINING in the areas of responsibilities to be undertaken;
  • SUSTAINED PLANNING that benefits from active consultation with members;
  • TEAM BUILDING  on the strengths of  engaging members individually and collectively in the process; 
  • EXPOSURE to the various levels of human, technical and informational expertise and resources that the Optimist movement is known to possess. 
In this Step by Step year 2014 – 2015, it is my wish that all officers-elect in our great Caribbean District (presidents-elect, Lieutenant Governors-elect and Governor-elect) will benefit from not only an increased number of training activities; but more extensive training. I would like to see greater networking and planning across the zones and clubs. Planning is a most effective foundation for proper communication. I would like to see even more cohesive teams understanding, appreciating and working together for the collective well-being of our children, our members, and the District. TEAM... I would like to see those with experience encouraging and building up those who are coming on board as new leaders and new members. And, I know other Optimists want to see these things too.
Of course, it cannot happen overnight and neither can I do it alone. But, we know it can happen, and will happen with your support. Therefore, as individual Optimists in your clubs and zones, I appeal to your sense of hope, your belief in our collective abilities, your confidence in the brightness of our future, and your commitment to the tenets of the Optimist Creed to let us together work at getting our officers-elect in place with the urgency of now
Let us together build a culture of leadership development and sustainability in our clubs, zones and district as part of making our organisation the best it can be. As Christian D. Larson encourages, let us together go to work to make the best happen.

Optimist Patrick
Optimist International Caribbean District.
Step by Step...2014-15

"Bim rocks Optimism" - GE Patrick

THE SECOND of two first quarter district meetings in the Step by Step year of Governor Barbara Arrindell unfolded at the 3Ws Oval on the UWI Cave Hill Campus in Barbados on October 25, 2014. As was the case in Kingston, the organizers promised difference and surely they delivered.

The great Caribbean District of Optimist International is indeed formidable in so many ways.

I want to give thanks for the opportunity afforded me to share in the experience with such ease and comfort. You are all awesome people and I am so happy to be an Optimist. Thanks to my friend and brother, PIVP Adrian and family for being such gracious hosts (and now family). My BaJam sister, PIVP Carol, your special care and attention to my personal growth and involvement as an Optimist continue to be simply inspirational. JOOI Co-Chair Ann, you know I love you even more! Jordis and I are forever grateful to all of you.

Secondly, to all the leaders in your neck of the woods - from Governor Barbara to club presidents Darshani, Laura, Cameron, Allison, Leo, Mercile, Katrina and your representatives at the meeting; and from DST Jason to all club secretary-treasurers, directors and chairpersons - thank you all for sitting in the driver's seat at this time. You are deeply appreciated. I am confident that you are going to have a distinguished year. GA Barry and LTGs Pat and Margaret, you guys and your planning and operation teams are simply and marvelously efficient at what you do. Thanks. PGs Adrian, Carol and Joe, as well as IPG Nutilia, it means a lot that your presence and insight continue to be seen and felt. 

Finally, I just want to share my notes from the meeting (almost as they were taken). Here we go:

Punctuality is an indicator of respect and value for others. Business-like. Engaging. Entertaining. Enlightening. Fun. Fellowship. Feeling Good. Friends. 

Optimists are serious people - serious about the business of service. Optimists are service people - serving the best we can regardless of the circumstance. Optimists are for the children - there is a child out there somewhere who needs us now, not tomorrow, but now. Optimists are builders of the future - ask Adriana, Firhana, and all the Junior Optimists who are becoming leaders in their own right! Jevanni Waugh!! Optimists are fun people - throw us an opportunity for play and it is off the chain! Pride!!

Good meeting. Great presentations. Humor. Hospitality. Happy. Honor.

Leadership. Moving Forward. Planning and Communication. Regrouping. Sensitivity in Service. Teamwork. The Future is Bright. Sustainability of quality is about recruiting quality. Training. Training.Training! Let us get it done and done early and right.

If you don't pay, you can't play! Money matters. What about a resolution at OI Convention on the tier-system given the economic realities and diversities across the Caribbean? A surplus, yeah!!!

Table sessions. Panel discussion. What is that signature activity or project that will make everyone say, Optimists!? PR is more than just the media and the public out there; it is also about Optimists knowing what we do as Optimists. Cherish the experience of those who share lessons. Use the lessons of strengths that come from sharing our projects with each other. Right Optimist Richelle and VP Yvette! 

Courtesy. Respect. Protocol. Robert's Rules. SURPRISE!!! Sweet.

Thank you all for making the weekend in Barbados such a memorable one for me on a personal level as I marked my 25@50 milestone. Thank you all for making the weekend in Barbados so productive, meaningful, and motivating for me as your GE. Thank you for making the weekend in Barbados one of pure Optimism! 

I wish for you and your families and teams at work, in the clubs, the zones and district absolutely nothing but the best.

I was delighted to have been in attendance; but in the final analysis it is even more delightful to be able to declare that, Bim rocks with Optimism!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Where do the children play?

AS OPTIMISTS we are committed to improving the welfare of our children. The mission of Optimism is simple and direct in its declaration: By providing hope and positive vision, Optimists bring out the best in kids.
On this Universal Children's Day, celebrated on November 20 each year, UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon reminds us of a simple fact.
The one thing all children have in common is their rights. Every child has the right to survive and thrive, to be educated, to be free from violence and abuse, to participate and be heard. These are innate human rights as inalienable as those held by adults. (Ban Ki-Moon, Nov 2014)
It is not only our children's right to be protected, however; it is our duty to make sure that they are. It is our responsibility to ensure that our children have safe places to learn and play and grow happily together. Every opportunity must be provided for them to realize their full and true potential. We all as adult human beings embrace our duty and stand up for the future today.
There are many ways to make a positive difference in the lives of our children. Here are just a few:
Become a mentor
Adopt a child
Contribute to a children's fund
Join an organization that supports children
Volunteer to share your many and varied gifts with the children at a schools, church, children's home.
Let us continue to lift up our children and be the best wind beneath their wings helping them to soar to the many heights of their true potential. Our children are god's gift to remind us of our humanity. Let us love, care, guide and protect them as best we can. After all, as Nelson Mandela says, There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.