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:
- It allows for specific training activities at the local, regional and international levels;
- It facilitates active participation in the organisation’s administrative processes;
- It provides invaluable opportunities for self-directed learning and planning; and
- 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 International Caribbean District.
Step by Step...2014-15