Lions Clubs International Presidential Theme 2016-2017 INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT CHANCELLOR BOB CORLEW NEW MOUNTAINS TO CLIMB The sights and sounds of my home state of Tennessee are many and varied. From the sounds of the mighty Mississippi River in the far western part of the state, to the sounds of agriculture and industry in middle Tennessee, to the sounds of the wildlife in the Appalachians in eastern Tennessee, all are distinct and representative of warm, southern hospitality. The sounds of the waters of the Mississippi in the far northwestern part of Tennessee, and further south, the wail of blues music on Beale Street in Memphis, are gentle reminders of the distinctive part of west Tennessee. Further east, in the central or “middle” part of the state, the relatively flat landscape gives way to the rolling hills that characterize the portion of the state which gave rise to country music. The sound of the banjo, guitar, and mandolin which dominate the hills surrounding Nashville for years have inspired the dreams of many a rural Tennessee farmer. Printers Alley and Music Row are well-known names in the land which has earned the name “Music City, USA.” The sounds of agriculture then give way to the sounds of industry as one moves further east to Knoxville and the transportation city of Chattanooga. Just east of those sprawling cities begin the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, which dominate the entire landscape of eastern Tennessee. International President Chancellor Bob Corlew Throughout the day, one can hear the frequent call of the coveys of quail—“bob, bob white”—interrupting the otherwise calm of the rural and even pristine landscape in some parts of the state. And then, when evening comes, as the sun sets behind the mountains, one can hear the lonely call of the whippoorwill, or the haunting howl of a coyote in the distance. Near small hamlets, the sound of banjos, guitars and fiddles ring like echoes, calling people home. As summer gives way to autumn, the hills and mountains become a splendor of color, as native maple, tulip poplar, birch, ash, chestnut, oak, and hickory trees turn russet, orange and yellow. Then as autumn becomes winter, the leaves give way to a blanket of snow, pierced only by the bare tree trunks and also the beautiful greenery of the cedar trees which dot the landscape. The hills and mountains that form the backdrop of my home create a unique atmosphere. The natural boundaries of the Great Smoky Mountains formed over many generations a distinct culture with specialized dialects, a unique cuisine and a tradition of storytelling. I come from a strong stock that enjoyed and valued their privacy. They built their homes on the mountains and down in the "hollers" of Tennessee’s beautiful landscape. In doing so, they isolated themselves from the rest of the country and what was considered the mainstream of American life. This relative isolation inspired an independent spirit among those who settled here. An unintended result of the solitude of these mountain communities was the bond that formed among people in this sparsely populated region. A cooperative nature evolved into a tradition of neighbor helping neighbor, of stranger helping stranger. The tradition of volunteering became so pervasive, that when the still young United States’ independence was challenged in the early 1800’s, it was the settlers of the region now known as Tennessee who volunteered in large numbers to defends its sovereignty – owing to Tennessee forever to be known as “the Volunteer State.” The volunteer spirit continues to be prevalent in Tennessee. "People helping people" is a phrase which continues to characterize the attitude of many a Tennessean. It is rare that one walks by another who fails to greet him or her with a cheery “good morning” or, in the smaller towns, a “howdy, neighbor.” And in the tiny communities of the state, the driver of every vehicle is met by a warm, friendly wave of the hand as he passes another vehicle. Though times have changed, and old traditions have given way to modern technology, the historic friendliness that characterizes Tennessee remains. As times have changed, new challenges have arisen. New and different opportunities for service have become apparent. New ways for the generous to give have come to the forefront. Despite the modern times, the old volunteer spirit remains in the hearts of most Tennesseans. The traditions I hold dear from my boyhood in Tennessee, and the independence passed on from my ancestors who overcame many challenges as they built a life in the foothills and mountains surrounding them, inspired me to choose “New Mountains To Climb” as my presidential theme. Climbing a mountain is used as a metaphor for many daily situations people confront. It represents something that is difficult and arduous and that takes a maximum effort to scale. But it is only by climbing those mountains that we ever excel to our fullest. Each mountain represents a new challenge—a new opportunity. As our world continues to change, each of us face new challenges—new opportunities to serve others. Blindness, measles, other health risks, food insecurity, lack of clean water, war and civil unrest—all represent challenges for countless people around the world, and they represent opportunities for Lions as we work to make the world a better place. Lions must continue to climb upward, finding new ways to serve. Every mountain represents a new opportunity for Lions, and scaling each mountain provides each of us a chance to make the world better for another person. As we commence a year of celebrating 100 years of community service – honoring our past and embracing our present – it is our future that we must plan and begin to forge. Our future is bright. But speaking metaphorically, if we are to ascend the next mountain, we must lay out a trail in front of us; we must mark our trail for future generations of Lions who follow, and preserve our tradition of service. REACHING THE SUMMIT OF SERVICE Reaching the top of a mountain is not the end of a journey; it’s the beginning of another. A new opportunity. We lead through service. That is our strength. We are a network of community leaders who have seen the result volunteer service can bring, and the value that volunteers provide to their communities. We must continue to assess our service initiatives and programs offered by LCI to ensure we have a unified vision in which service programs drive the purpose of our organization, and as a result, grow our membership, increase member satisfaction, allow for more meaningful partnerships and increase public awareness. Ultimately, we must continue to lead through service and enhance our position as the global leader in humanitarian service. Lions have an enormous impact on the health and well-being of communities worldwide. Think of all the ways that Lions make a difference in day-to-day life: Environment – Lions help to keep our neighborhoods, streets, parks, rivers, green spaces, and water clean and safe for everyone. Youth – Lions tutor, teach, mentor, coach, and support young people with everything from math homework to dealing with personal crises to football and soccer tournaments. Hunger – We work on our own and with other agencies to stem food insecurity. Vision – Lions work on many levels to fight preventable blindness and provide much needed services to the blind and visually impaired. Lions are critical partners of and participants in societies throughout the world. Ask yourself this question: What would my community be like if there had never been a Lions club? What would our cities, towns, state/provincial parks, schools, and libraries look like? What basic needs would go unmet? What opportunities to grow, learn, and thrive as a society would be lost? That is a world that is hard to imagine, and difficult to measure. Fortunately, we don’t have to imagine a world without Lions clubs. As we approach 100 years of service, our footprint of service has grown beyond what Melvin Jones could have possibly foreseen. Lions continue to adhere to the two words that define us – our reason for being and the very essence of our existence – “We Serve.” And Lions embrace new challenges and new opportunities to serve others. No mountain is too high. As we began our centennial celebration at the 2014 International Convention in Toronto, we asked Lions to climb the next mountain – to serve at least 100 million people in four areas – Youth, Vision, Hunger and the Environment – by June 30, 2018. Lions responded as only Lions do, with enthusiasm and determination. In only the first year we achieved more than one third of our goal. And now, as we conclude the second year of our Centennial Service Challenge, we are well past the two thirds mark, and positioned nicely to meet and exceed our goal. But now is not the time to rest. Every community, large or small, that each club serves, presents an opportunity for a Centennial Legacy Project. Lions around the world are stepping up to meet this new challenge by creating a permanent legacy, which will forever remind Lions and others in the community of the great work we perform, and the mountains we climbed during our centennial year. Whether it's a park where children can play, a sports field where young people can compete, a school where students can learn, an eye center where those in need can be served, a hospital where the sick can be made well, a forested area where trees can grow and the environment be preserved, a library where our senior citizens can learn and enjoy their time, or merely a monument, a clock, or a sign to remind us always of our duty to serve, Lions around the world are now turning their attention to the needs that can be met through completion of a Legacy Project. The mountain is high, and we cannot yet see the top. It will take perseverance if we are to achieve what we set out to accomplish. But we are Lions, and we will not stop until we reach the peak! CONNECT WITH COMMUNITIES We know from focus group surveys of non-Lions that our Lions logo is one of the most widely recognized among non-profit groups. People connect our logo with community service. Serving the needs of our communities gives Lions a special connection and builds lasting bonds. Our goal is to have at least 20,000 clubs participate in the Legacy Projects. Whether your club participates with a level 1, 2 or 3 project as described in the below examples, make sure the Lions logo is prominently displayed as a permanent part of the project. And be sure to report your project in the same manner you record your centennial service challenge projects. Level 1 – Community Visibility New signage A memorial clock or statue celebrating the community Community benches Bike racks A gazebo or picnic area Level 2 – A larger gift to the community Refurbish a park or playground by installing new equipment, or accessible features for the disabled Provide accessibility equipment for an existing facility serving the community Equip an area of a hospital that addresses an unmet need Install a sanitation or clean-water system at a school Build a footbridge to make a busy intersection safer Level 3 – A permanent project to advance quality of life in the community Develop or expand a medical clinic, library or a school Develop a Lions Room at a hospice or hospital Develop a technology lab at a center for the visually impaired and blind Develop a vocational training center for under-employed youth or the disabled Develop a new park, playground or pool for the community LEADING US OVER THE NEXT MOUNTAIN Leadership is vision, knowledge, drive, confidence, optimism, openness, humanity, and caring. It is direction and guidance that inspires dedication, confidence, and achievement. Leadership is required to inspire and bring out the best in people. It is a process by which a person influences and motivates others to accomplish an objective, and directs an organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent (unified, connected, and harmonious). A leader must inspire others, and instill passion and direction to an individual or group of individuals. So, leadership is the ability to inspire, empower, and instill passion in others - the ability to guide and direct others - the ability to motivate others toward a common goal, and achieve the desired results. A recent study revealed that young people volunteer not only to serve the needs of others, but also for opportunities for personal growth. The training and development we provide, and the actual leadership experience gained by being a member of a Lions club provides an opportunity for each Lion to serve others better and also to grow as an individual. Leadership development also provides effective ways to understand and improve the way we handle our own and other people’s emotions by learning how better to communicate, motivate, guide and instill passion in others. As we strive to meet the growing needs for humanitarian service, we need to do so effectively and efficiently. Good leaders can make that happen. Strong service = strong clubs = member pride, engagement and enthusiasm. Just as importantly, leadership development is the way to remain relevant and vibrant as we enter our next century of service. As we celebrate our centennial, we must plan for our future. One key to our future is succession planning – ensuring an adequate pool of knowledgeable, capable, enthusiastic, forward-thinking Lions leaders who will guide and support us for years to come. To climb to the top of a mountain, you need the right tools. You also need the right tools to become an effective leader. Our leadership development programs, tools, and resources have enhanced the skills of thousands of Lions around the world, preparing them not only to effectively address challenges, but to anticipate those challenges as well. Whether your preference is face-to-face training or technology-based learning, LCI offers something for everyone. I encourage you to climb even higher by taking advantage of the various training and development opportunities offered by LCI and the GLT. BUILDING OUR TEAM BY INVITING FOR IMPACT Lions Clubs International is comprised of many teams – clubs, zones, regions, districts, multiple districts, District Governor Teams, the Global Leadership Team, the Global Membership Team, International Directors, Executive Officers, our staff, and many more – all working together toward the shared goal of enhancing our service to others. Successful teams share two types of values. They value: 1) Achieving the goal or accomplishing the mission 2) Relating to each other as a team. Shared values include: Roles – Team members understand the unique contribution and limitations of others and develop a distinct division of labor. In mountain climbing, one climber might be excellent at deciphering new routes, another at setting ropes, and yet another at leading on the rope. Shared Goals – The team goal is more important than the individual goal. For example, climbing team members share the desire to reach the mountain summit together as a team, not just as individual climbers. • Team confidence – Teams believe they can achieve success. A second set of shared values relate to interpersonal dynamics. Trust – Team members count on each other to come through as expected. In other words, the team members see a consistency in behaviors. In mountain climbing, team members belay each other, resting assured they are safely tethered, even if a partner sets the ropes. Interpersonal understanding – Team members are aware of individual moods, desires, and personal situations so that they can recognize when a fellow team member is too physically weak or mentally exhausted to continue a climb. These five values prove essential in getting teams off the ground, and lead to success in reaching summits. Each member of the team is no less important than another. And each member of the team makes an impact. For every new member who joins our team, we impact the lives of 30 people through service. Simple math then tells us that for every 1,000 members who join, we impact the lives of 30,000. Our goal during our centennial celebration period is for every club to invite three new members each year, and for every district to start one new club. That is a modest 5 percent increase – approximately 138,000 new members. But it represents reaching an additional 4.1 million people through service. It’s not about adding members for the sake of membership growth. It’s about adding members to meet the growing needs of our communities. CONNECTING MY MOUNTAIN TO YOURS Mountains are never isolated entities. They are connected. They are part of a series of mountains called ranges - the Alps, the Andes, the Himalayans, and yes - the Appalachian Mountains that run through my home of Tennessee. Lions are connected too - through service, through fellowship and through something we all affectionately call “Lionism.” Lions around the world are connecting to each other as never before via the internet, which has enhanced our ability to communicate. Through real-time communication, the world has gotten just a little bit smaller, even if only by perception. And more than ever before, Lions are using social media to connect to the public. Some clubs are even experimenting with online meetings, and allowing some members to attend meetings via Skype and tele-conferencing. Increasingly, our international officers are able to address a gathering of Lions in one country through Skype and FaceTime, while being physically present in another country around the world to address Lions in another setting. There are many ways to use electronic communication, and just as many benefits, such as reaching a wider, more diverse audience. It’s also a great way to save time and money. In preparation for our Centennial Celebration in Chicago in 2017, our staff has reviewed a number of letters written by Melvin Jones. Our founder spent many hours personally reaching out to new communities where there were no Lions clubs, and reaching out to Lions nearby. His letters inspired Lions and encouraged them to start new clubs in many underserved areas around the world. As we plan our future, the Internet will play a crucial role. In the spirit of efficiency, expediency, and extension of Lionism, one has to believe that Melvin Jones would approve. THE NEXT MOUNTAIN AND BEYOND Long after the centennial celebration is over, the cheering has subsided, and the music has been turned down a decibel or two – we will still have many challenges ahead as the Lions continue our work of making the world a better place. The growing need for service around the world will continue to confront us and challenge us as we move forward. And we must move forward. We must continue to anticipate the next new mountain. And we must climb each one. People depend upon us. LCI Forward is a strategic plan developed to significantly expand humanitarian service, improve our current operations, and pursue new paths to unite people in Lions’ service. A primary goal of LCI Forward is to improve the lives of at least 200 million people each year – more than triple the number of people served currently. In addition, we want to become the bestknown volunteer brand and organization in the world, while achieving best-in-class service to clubs, district and our family of Lions while developing new and innovative ways to engage people in humanitarian endeavors under the Lions’ umbrella. The four areas of strategic focus are: Reshape public opinion and improve awareness of who we are and what we do Enhance service impact and focus Improve membership value and reach new markets Pursue club, district and organizational excellence The outcome of achieving progress in all four focus areas will be: More vibrant and resilient communities where humanitarian needs are addressed more effectively Increased membership and improved retention, with the majority of clubs growing each year in both service and membership New ways for Lions to serve Increased awareness as the world’s most recognized volunteer service organization We look forward to a significant announcement at the 2017 centennial convention in Chicago to launch a new global humanitarian cause – a unifying service platform that will be embraced by all Lions and be highly recognized by the non-Lion public. A new mountain, that we, the Lions, will be eager to begin to climb! We will not only be celebrating our glorious past, but we will also be celebrating a bright future as we come together in Chicago! THE VIEW FROM THE TOP New mountains to climb. New challenges to meet. New goals to achieve. New people to serve. New members to welcome. New leaders to guide us. As we celebrate 100 years of service, we exalt in the accomplishments of Lions who came before us – those who established our tradition of no need should be unmet – who wore a path up many mountainsides to establish our organization as the global leader in humanitarian service. But our job is far from concluded. When asked why he climbed a nearby peak, one famous mountain climber replied simply “to get to the top.” The world looks different from the top of a mountain. The view from the top presents a far different landscape – a 360 degree panorama. From the top of a mountain one can see towns and cities that lie ahead or behind; rivers that wind their way through valleys below - and yes, the next summit to climb. We don’t yet know the view from the top of the next mountain. But we know we have to get there. We know we must ascend to the next level of service, and mark our path along the way for the next generation of Lions. This is the time to prepare ourselves and those who follow behind us, for the next 100 years, and for the bicentennial of Lions Clubs International. I’m asking you to join me in this continuing journey as we climb to new heights.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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