November 10, 2012

Finding strength in purpose

I've been thinking about this post for several days and haven't had the heart to write it until now. It's about transparency and how blogging can make a difference in our lives.

It's pretty simple to be a promoter and to push the information that holds an organization in the best light. Some optimists would say that is the the only way to act - to tell only the positive side of the story. As much as I agree with finding the positive, I also understand there must be balance. We don't live in an enchanted world and we have to deal with reality every once and while.

As readers of my blog know, I write frequently about the great activities performed by Optimist Clubs in communities around the world. It's not always an easy job because the stories can be hard to find. Our clubs aren't always successful in getting their projects noticed and when my alert system goes dry and direct mail is slow, the Experience Optimism blog suffers. But the blog can also suffer when my approach is overly-criticized as well. Notice the word "overly;" I can take criticism, but I lose motivation when others think their agenda should come first. Today, I offer a solution: if you have your own agenda, well then, start your own blog.

Now the back story. I am the principal blogger for the PNW District - Optimist International. I have been sharing Optimist Club stories there since 2007, but the blog also serves as the website for the district so it must also incorporate news about the administration. That means that I have to discuss the business of the district. The district held its first business meeting for the 2012-2013 administration on October 20, 2012. At that meeting, we learned that the 2011-2012 administration spent $13,000 of its cash reserves and it did so without anyone in attendance speaking up to say, "Where did it go?"

I served as the leader of that district a mere three years ago. I turned over a nice sum of $29,000 to the next administration and earned the highest honors that Optimist International can give to a district and its governor. The next administration followed suit. We lived within our budgets and given that record, I think it would have been reasonable to request that the district dues be decreased. Decreasing dues would keep more money at home, with the local clubs.

However, last year, the district spent more money and achieved less. In fact, in addition to losing money, the district ended the year with over 300 fewer members than it had when it began.  I wouldn't be so anxious to point this out if the past administration wasn't bent on pushing their ways forward into this year's budget. The current governor, in an effort to be positive, is thinking like a cheerleader when he needs to put on his business hat instead.

Now the reason for my post. The last two governors, one successful and one not, have contacted me independently to say that my exposing this information on the district blog was inappropriate. When I asked them to please point to anything that was untrue so that I could make a correction, they couldn't. Oddly, neither cared to post a rebuttal in the comment section either. They just wanted to control what I wrote about the district to tell only the positive.

That's not the way I do it, boys. Spin sucks. Reality may hurt, but it's the only way to make corrections so that we can move forward.

The number of negative posts on that blog, by the way, is zero. There is something positive in every one. Even the one exposing something tough to talk about - loss - does so with optimism. Why? Because that's the way I try to live and the reason that I share these stories in the first place. I plan to continue to write in the same manner, for the same purpose, in the future. Thanks for reading.

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