January 23, 2017

Here's your chance for a $500 membership incentive

I'm not crazy about this idea; however, it is an incentive being offered by Optimist International and therefore I feel a responsibility to share.

Announced on its Facebook page, Optimist International says when a member recruits a new member into their Optimist Club, the sponsor will be entered into a drawing to win $500. If it is the sponsor's first new member, they will be entered into two drawings for $500 each.

The drawings will be held on a quarterly basis. There will be two winners in the members sponsoring their first new member category each quarter. There will be one winner in the all member category.

So why am I ambivalent? I do not believe that cash awards are an appropriate reward for a membership organization to offer as a recruitment tool. It incentivizes membership for the wrong reason.

One does not join an Optimist Club to make money for themselves. Sure, some may hope to build relationships that may lead to business transactions in the future; but ask any member and they will tell you that they work together with their fellow club members in fundraising and service for a purpose higher than their own pocketbook. They work for the betterment of youth and community.

Creating a monetary recruitment award is rather a disincentive for me. How about that new member? I wonder what they might think of their sponsor receiving $500 for their commitment to join?

Money being a disincentive has been studied by scientists and overwhelmingly, they have concluded that for cognitive tasks that require creativity, money has led to worse performance. Why? Two basic reasons were cited by Dan Pink in his book Drive*:

  1. Once the task is reached, the individual stops the behavior that the incentive is meant to produce. 
  2. The amount of money is not an appropriate exchange for something a motivated person is willing to do for free. 
I don't know about you, but for me, I fall into the second category. I don't care to gamble on whether or not someone wants to join an Optimist Club. Good luck to you, if you do. 


*Pink, D. H. (2009). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.

January 16, 2017

Service is our message, our mission

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. In the US, it is a day to celebrate his life and
accomplishments and to acknowledge the importance of inclusion and the civil rights movement. It has also become a day of service and an opportunity to encourage people to get involved in their communities. Many of King's inspirational speeches have been reduced to memorable quotes. Among them are some of my favorites:

  • Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'
  • Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
  • The time is always right to do what is right.
  • Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

This year, I've added another to my list of favorites. For me, it explains why we get involved in our community by joining with others in a service club. King said, 
"Everyone can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve...You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."
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Service above self sets the tone for all I strive to accomplish as a club, district and international leader for Optimist International. It is my hope to inspire others to organize and make a positive impact on their communities by analyzing needs and making plans to satisfy those needs. As citizens, it is our responsibility to make our communities better.

In his farewell address to the nation, US President Barack Obama expressed the same idea. He spoke of the most important office in a democracy: Citizen. He said,
"It falls to each of us to be those those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we've been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we, in fact, all share the same proud title, the most important office in a democracy: Citizen.  Citizen. 
So, you see, that's what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there's an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you're tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life.  If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing.  If you're disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.  Show up. Dive in. Stay at it.
Sometimes you'll win. Sometimes you'll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in other people, that can be a risk, and there will be times when the process will disappoint you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, and to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire."

President Obama's message was, of course, aimed at the citizens of the United States. I believe his message, and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s message before him, apply to the world. We must be involved in our communities. We must take responsibility for our own well-being.We must help make the world better for others.

I recommend sharing that service with friends as part of an Optimist Club. Together we can. Together we will.

Click here to find an Optimist Club near you and join.

January 10, 2017

A healthy head start

Is your Optimist Club, or other service organization, looking for a new project for the new year? How about this one? Develop and distribute baby boxes!

According to the video, Scotland and Finland are two countries that are providing boxes for babies and the result is a lower infant mortality rate. You may look at this and say, "Why would a baby sleep in a box?"

I agree with the project developers, sleeping in a box will keep the baby warm and safe in areas where it may not be.

To get the full impact of the project, you need to also look at what is in the box: diapers, blankets, formula, among other things. Some might say that providing resources for children, along with awareness for a healthy head start in life, are just what being an Optimist Club member is all about.

Please click here to find an Optimist Club near you and join.


January 1, 2017

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2017

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What's the best resolution you can make for the new year?

You guessed it:
Resolve to join an Optimist Club.

When you join an Optimist Club, you come together with like-minded people to make a difference in the lives of others. Most important, you will make a difference in your life.

It's true; Optimist Clubs bring out the best in youth, community and ourselves. We see challenges and work to make them better. We see progress and celebrate success. We provide hope.

Optimist is in our name for a reason. This is your invitation to be an Optimist Club member and bring optimism into your life for good.

Click here to find an Optimist Club near you.

Click here if I might help you start a new Optimist Club in your community.

Click here to be a Friend of Optimists.

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2017.


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