March 21, 2015

Optimist spring

Hope blossoms once a year giving rebirth to nature and promising growth and happiness to all who step outside to view its colorful canvas.

Plans are put into action to fulfill the dreams made during the cover of winter's chill. Spring has arrived.

Every day, I read, and sometimes recite, the Optimist Creed. It gives me hope year-round. I don't have to wait for the clouds to clear, the snow to melt, or the sun to shine to share my optimism with the world. The Optimist Creed inspires my optimism every day.

Thanks to the gentlemen who invited me, ever so reluctantly, to join their Optimist Club more than 25 years ago, I find that I have a dose of optimism - a dose of spring - every time I gather with others to share my optimism as part of a group that wants only to do good in their community. We make plans to host oratorical and essay scholarship contests, provide youth sports programs, host Easter egg hunts, show movies in the park and so much more. But most important, we share springtime with hope and positive vision for all.

I invite you to experience a year-round spring by being part of an Optimist Club. Share optimism. Join an Optimist Club. Click here to find an Optimist Club near you or contact me and I will help you start a new Optimist Club in your community.

March 3, 2015

Another Pancake Jubilee is history

I've been watching the activities of the Optimist Club of Meridian, Mississippi for a few years now, ever since I set up an alert for the Optimist Club of Meridian, Idaho. Google doesn't seem to know the difference between the states and that's quite alright with me. The Mississippi club is doing vital work in its community.

One of my favorites is its annual Pancake Jubilee. I've written before here and here, among other entries, how pancakes can bring a community together. At breakfast, you see your neighbors, colleagues, friends and family and share stories. I believe it is much like how sitting around a campfire nurtured the cultures of our ancestors.

But I like one more thing especially well about this particular pancake breakfast. It's not just a breakfast; it's a jubilee! There is just something joyful about an event when it's given a festive, extraordinary name.

Please enjoy some scenes from the Meridian, Mississippi Optimist Club Pancake Jubilee courtesy of WTOK. 

February 23, 2015

Measure the goodness of a team
Optimist Clubs do many good things in the communities where they serve. From youth sports programs to scholarship contests, among other things, individuals are able to find their passion and make a difference by helping children in a purposeful way.

However, the true reason to join an Optimist Club is so that you can make friends and acquaintances that share your passions so that together, you can do more.

On Saturday, February 21, I attended the first leadership summit of 2015 for Optimist International. Designed for club presidents and members who want to help optimism grow in their communities, it focused on a number of leadership issues like conflict resolution, managing change, stages of leadership and team building.

During the team building session, the facilitator asked, why do we need a team? About fifty Optimists looked forward without an answer. I don't know if they were waiting for the presenter to tell them or if they were merely stumped for a reply, but finally, one of the younger attendees, a student and member of the University of California Santa Barbara Optimist Club spoke up to say, "We need a team to accomplish the things that we cannot do ourselves."

I think we often forget that. Teams are important for they allow us to accomplish more. Perhaps Gen X, Baby Boomers, and earlier generations don't recognize this because the dynamics of engagement were different as they matured. They grew up with an hierarchical culture that accepted orders whereas the younger generations are used to an open culture where individuals are equally accountable to themselves, the project on which they are working and their fellow-workers.

Both models work, and both models have their place; however, I propose that in a civic - social setting, the open team model is the best approach for it allows input at all levels of planning and implementation. It allows goodness to come forward first, last and in-between as team members work together to make things happen in their communities.

Optimist Clubs are truly about the team model. By forming committees and task forces, the groups within an Optimist Club conduct many more projects than an individual might conceive of alone. Together they provide a measurable difference and you can too when you join an Optimist Club.

Click here to find and join an Optimist Club in your community. If there is not one listed, please contact me and I'll help you start a new Optimist Club to help you spread goodness wherever you live.
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