October 31, 2012

Who needs candy when they've got Google?

Google doodles make me smile and for some reason, I'm finding this Halloween to be a smiley time too. That's why I knew I had to share the Halloween 2012 Google doodle here.

If you are visiting on October 31, 2012, this link will get you there to try it out firsthand. If not, watch a video of what you missed.

Trick or treat!

October 25, 2012

Optimist International is a powerful force for good

Optimist Clubs conduct community service projects on a local level with an emphasis on programs that help children live up to their full potential. That doesn't mean that a club might not focus on pets, adults, the environment, health and wellness, and the many other elements that come together to make up the community at large. Quite the contrary; everything that we do as an Optimist Club should help our members and our stakeholders have a better quality of life.

Optimist Clubs sometimes form for single purposes like sports or to complete a project in the community. When the project is completed, there may not be a need for an Optimist Club unless those who came together know what else an Optimist Club can do. That's why I believe every Optimist Club, old, new or in-between,  should follow the purposes of Optimist International:
  • To develop optimism as a philosophy of life, utilizing the tenets of the Optimist Creed;
  • To promote an active interest in good government and civic affairs;
  • To inspire respect for the law;
  • To promote patriotism and work for international accord and friendship among all people;
  • To aid and encourage the development of youth, in the belief that the giving of one’s self in service to others will advance the well-being of humankind, community life and the world.
And be true to the mission statement of the organization:
  • With hope and positive vision, Optimists bring out the best in children. 
I'm part of a group on LinkedIn for Optimist Club members and recently there has been discussion about a new Optimist Club that was formed to serve the American Cancer Society through fundraising and other means. The club is creating its own mission statement. According to a club spokesperson, this club will embrace some elements of Optimist International's mission statement, but it will have goals that are distinct. 

Every Optimist Club is autonomous. That's a given and both a beauty and downfall of the organization. The beauty of autonomy is that it is easier to organize a club when you can adopt another's reason for being. The downside is that doing so dilutes the purposes, reputation and identity of Optimist International. 

I believe in the purposes of Optimist International and would encourage every new club builder and every member to remember what we stand for as Optimists. Spread the words, dreams, and deeds of Optimist International first and foremost. 

Affiliation with Optimist International is a powerful force for good in its own right and we should celebrate its potential and accomplishments just as we celebrate the potential and accomplishments of those we serve. Don't give away the opportunity to be an Optimist Club. It's a special feeling that can, given the chance, lead to a rewarding way of life. 

October 24, 2012

Rural Optimist Clubs get more print

Optimist Club
Optimist Clubs serve communities of different sizes and because of that, some clubs have closer relationships with their local newspapers. Particularly small communities, like Marshall, Missouri, population 13,000, where the local paper allows the Optimist Club, among other organizations, to publish the actions of their weekly meetings.

I recently came across this posting from The Marshall Democrat-News that explained what happened at the Optimist Club on October 13, 2012. According to the article, the club is planning popcorn sales and Breakfast with Santa, and some club members will soon attend the district meeting. That morning, they heard a presentation from the Soil Conservation District and at the end of the meeting, Paul Collier won the morning drawing.

Charming. Really, it is. It may sound mundane to urbanites out there, but what we do at Optimist Club meetings create bonds and establish a community. That doesn't happen as easily in metropolitan areas where people are often too busy to get to know their neighbors and newspapers are too busy looking for controversy to facilitate relationships.

Optimist Clubs, and other service clubs, are all about relationships. Without help from our newspapers, we have to create our own relationship-building efforts. To do this, I recommend a blog. Blogs are easy to update and easy to share. A consistently updated blog can easily take the place of a newspaper and soon, I predict, most people will go online first, before looking elsewhere for information about their community and the world.

It's up to you to start your Optimist Club blog now so when the visitors arrive, there is a lot to read about and plenty of reasons to get involved. Obviously, I like Blogger, but WordPress works too and both are free resources that let you tell the Optimist Club story in your own words. I can't wait to read what's happening in your Optimist Club. Blog about it and tell the world.

October 23, 2012

Make your optimism come true

According to Helen Keller, "Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence." How right she is and was on so many topics, but none more so than the subject of being a positive force and a beacon of hope in the world.

optimismEveryone knows her story; born blind and deaf, she struggled from an early age to be understood. And while her wonderful, patient teacher and friend Annie Sullivan taught her to communicate, Miss Sullivan also taught her parents to expect more of their child born with exceptional challenges. Together they began their lifelong work to change how others look at individuals with disabilities. More important, they gave others the confidence to overcome whatever challenges they face in their lives.

For that reason, I believe Helen Keller is the ultimate optimist. She made her own luck. She looked at the sunny side of everything. She spoke of health, happiness and prosperity. She expected only the best. I encourage you to accept that challenge as well; beginning today, overcome your obstacles, find your path and work diligently to make your optimism come true.

Reprinted from www.newoptimistclub.com.

October 22, 2012

Be the best you can be: Be an Optimist

When one attends an Optimist District meeting, one will find that a question is often debated:
 Do Optimist Clubs build new Optimist Clubs or is that a function of the District? 
In order to answer the question, I fall into the both and neither categories. I believe that people are responsible for starting new Optimist Clubs. It doesn't matter if they represent a club, a district, Optimist International, or even themselves, people must have a passion for sharing the purposes of an Optimist Club in order to inspire others to be involved.

At a recent meeting of the Pacific Northwest District Optimist Clubs, Rocky Jackson spoke about the need for new clubs in our communities. He also discussed why he joined an Optimist Club and why he stays involved. For him, it's about doing all we can to ensure children have opportunities to play, learn and grow into responsible and caring adults. He claims that he joined an Optimist Club almost as a favor to a cousin. He stayed because he learned that the work he did helped not only kids, but it helped his community and most of all himself.

It's not selfish to help ourselves. Being the best we can be allows us to help others. I invite you to become the best you can be by joining an Optimist Club. Ask me how.

October 14, 2012

"Too Close to Love You"

Like life, sometimes videos make little sense to those who are watching instead of living it. At least that was the emotion I got from the choice for Music Sunday at Experience Optimism. I offer Alex Clare's official video of "Too Close to Love You" for consideration today.

Had I not just seen the movie "Taken 2" with Liam Neeson, I would have not been drawn to find out more about the song and discover the video. Let me explain, it was perfect for the movie. Here, not so much, but the movie features Neeson's character, a fighter, saving his family. The sport in the video is Kendo, a Japanese martial art. It is physically and mentally challenging, like Neeson's character.

So perhaps the video makes sense after all. Now if I could just say the same for life.

October 11, 2012

Grow or die

We are eleven days in to a new Optimist Club year. Annually, on the first of October, Optimist Clubs change presidents, Optimist Districts change governors and the International Office and all Optimists welcome a new international president.

Each individual comes with new ideas and fresh energy to take our service forward. Sometimes I wonder if there is too much changing going on. One barely learns their job and then it is time for them to hand off the baton to the next volunteer. That's the way of membership associations, of course. A membership association must involve its members - all of its members - in its leadership opportunities. How else do we learn what is important to them? How else do we remain relevant?

A great number of people might recommend conducting a survey to learn what is important to most. As opposed as I am to surveys, I recently did just that. There were three points that I hoped to gain from the survey:
  • Determine if members felt they received enough information from Optimist International directly or through the District channels
  • Determine if the reputation (purposes) of the organization was communicated effectively
  • Determine what information members felt was most important
So far, I've learned that members want to receive more information and that they want to learn how to market their local clubs more effectively. While I haven't completed the analysis, I also believe that those surveyed believe that the organization's reputation or branding is not always evident in the communication they receive. 

As readers of my blog know, that's an important trigger for me. Optimist Clubs do great things in their communities and we would never want that to stop; however, the only way that we can insure their survival is if the organization thrives. We must share the same mission and benchmarks. We must grow in service and that means we must add people, programs and funding. 
optimist international grow

Growth, as insufferable as the word is to many,  is the benchmark and we must accept it or die. However, why we are growing and what we will accomplish as  members who are unified in the purposes of this great organization must be communicated lest we may wither from the randomness of our own good deeds. 

October 7, 2012

Listening to "Skyfall"

I'm a latecomer to the James Bond fascination; however, Daniel Craig caught my attention as none of the earlier Bonds managed to do. That's why I can't help but give a nod to the 50th anniversary of the iconic 007 as my choice for Music Sunday at Experience Optimism.

Cashing in on the popularity of Adele with the theme song to the new movie, Skyfall, the movie has many viewers anticipating its release. The Wall Street Journal has been cashing in on the popularity of both as they have repeatedly tweeted links to both stories.

The suave, sexy and risk-taking James Bond fascinates with his bad-boy demeanor and saves his country and perhaps the world in the process.  The movie "Skyfall" will be released on November 9 in the US. I'm looking forward to it. How about you?
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