I have a confession to make. I am an Oprah junkie. Ever since I got XM radio in my car, I am glued to the Oprah & Friends station. I find all of her ‘Friends’ to be very inspirational. I laugh, I cry…and very often I find myself going ‘Hmmm’ (like that song in the early nineties…things that make you go hmmm hmmm hmmm).
Today was a Hmmm day when I heard Oprah’s friend, Dr. Robin do a show about politics. Dr. Robin is a psychologist, so the show was not about the candidates and the issues but more about the attitudes of us watching the national campaigns. The point being made was about how we are so critical of our leaders and hold them up to some clear set of expectations, yet we don’t hold ourselves to those very same expectations. That, if we honestly sit back and reflect, we will see a big disconnect between what is acceptable for ourselves and what we expect from them.
So the challenge from Dr. Robin today was for all of us to take responsibility for holding ourselves to the standard we expect from our leaders. She used my favorite quote “You must be the change you wish to see in the world” to emphasize her point that, instead of sitting back and picking apart and criticizing the candidates…instead of watching and waiting and wondering how these people are going to make our lives better…we should be turning that energy inward. Yes, the election is important but not to the exclusion of, and certainly not more than, our own individual responsibility to the world. What a big difference it would make in the world, she said, if we all did that right now, today, and figured out how we can make a positive difference in our own little corner of the universe.
I myself have already tried to accept this challenge. Actually, before this current national political campaign, and before ever even hearing of Dr. Robin, I had adopted this policy of ‘doing’ for the community instead of expecting someone else to take care of things. I can’t even pinpoint when this began or how it came about because it seems like I’ve always been involved with some volunteer activity or another, at least in most of my adult life. But I have always felt that sitting back and criticizing leaders is not real helpful. That telling others you should be doing this or you should be doing that is not really fair. In other words, armchair quarterbacks suck.
Answering The Call
It all really began to come together for me about 4 years ago when I made the decision to run for the Board of my Homeowner’s Association. I had been a Volunteer for a year or so and was Chairing the Communications Committee, which produced the bi-monthly newsletter in addition to some other responsibilities. It was not an easy job and took a big commitment of time and energy to do. So when I started having trouble with the Board because of their need to micromanage and use Volunteers to do the hard work without allowing them to have any real voice in how things should be, I knew that change needed to be made. The Board at the time was not very well-liked and had the reputation of being an old boys club that worked in a kind of bubble, oblivious to the needs and concerns of the rest of the community of 6,000 people. They were notorious for laying down the law, regardless of what anyone else thought, and too often trampling over volunteers and the work of the committees. Needless to say, volunteerism suffered and no one wanted to help out on committees or work with them on the Board. They had effectively diminished any possibility of a challenge.
So, when it became my turn to experience first hand the effects of this kind of leadership, I made the decision that someone had to try to change things. Call me stubborn or strong-willed or whatever, but I have never been able to resist a challenge and have no problem throwing myself headlong in to something, no matter how daunting it may seem, if I feel strongly enough about it. Basically, these guys pissed me off and that was just the kind of encouragement I needed!
My first step was to resign from the committee, at which time my entire committee joined me in this bit of revolution. Then, I threw my name in to the ring at the next election, and got myself elected to the Board. What followed over the next two years was an amazing bit of luck and circumstance (or, for you Law of Attraction types, an awesome manifestation of my set intention). Anyway, I ended up becoming President by the end of my first three year term on the Board. I am halfway through my second year as President and am astounded at the sea change that has occurred. I am not trying here to take credit for all of the positive things that happened recently but I do feel like my decision to get involved in this way was the measurable beginning of a great turn of events for us in our community.
The Results May Surprise You
Today, my Board is proud to oversee a larger than ever group of enthusiastic volunteers who feel like they are able to make a difference in our little corner of the world. We have empowered the people to contribute to our leadership process and to follow through on their great ideas. This has had a measurable effect on the morale of the community, and has allowed us to get more accomplished than we otherwise would have been able to. And, we are starting to feel our influence expanding outside of our gates and are poised to accomplish even more in the years to come.
Dr. Robin’s remarks on the radio today were really geared toward people in their personal lives, within their homes and families, but her message struck a chord with me as it pertains to us real-estate-agent-citizens in towns and neighborhoods all over the country. How awesome would it be for each of us to make a commitment to find just one way to make the places we work in better? What kind of impact would it make if the 1 million NAR members in the US did this? Would our neighborhoods be better for it? Would our country be a better place to live in?
Be The Change.