Faith In the Future

Recently I’ve been involved in a discussion with some other professional consultants about the changes at Yahoo and Best Buy in relationship to their temporarily ending telecommuting.  Along the way the issue of generational differences came up, with the millennial generation being accused of being very self-focused, a bit “needy,” and demonstrating a bit of an “entitlement” mentality.  Perhaps that is a broad generalization of that generation, but not inclusive of everyone.

I have the good fortune of being a member of one of our local Rotary clubs in Macon, GA.  I have the even better fortune of being involved with putting on our Annual High School Speech Competition.  This competition has representatives from each of our 14 public and private high schools in the area present a four-minute speech on the topic of either our annual theme, which this year is “Peace Through Service,” or the Rotary Four-Way Test.  The Four-Way Test, which has been translated into more than 100 languages, asks the following questions:

Of the things we think, say or do

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER  FRIENDSHIPS?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Two weeks ago on a Thursday evening we held our local competition in the Peyton Anderson Auditorium at Mercer University. The top three presenters went on to our Zone competition, which was held this past Saturday morning.  A dozen young ladies and gentlemen competed, ranging in grades from freshman to senior.  Their stage presence and quality of their words were inspirational, motivational, and anything but short of spectacular.

They spoke not of empty platitudes, but from their own experiences about “service above self,” another of the Rotary ideals, as they shared their thoughts on how service can bring about peace to individuals and benefit all, or how our deeds and relationships can impact others.   These young people were examples for all of us.  They were not only active in their own schools, but active in their local communities and even involved in international outreach.  And as they wove what they had learned from serving others into their presentations, they drew us in with them.  We learned what it was like to serve food to the hungry, help put shoes on the poor, and build houses for the impoverished. We learned what it was like to deal with decisions of integrity or to sacrifice for someone else.

These young ladies and gentlemen will be our future leaders; there is no doubt, because they are already leaders today.  They have already learned that leadership is not telling others what to do, but rather serving and helping others to do.  It isn’t about stealing other’s Personal Power, but helping others retain and grow their Personal Power, which in turn helps increase and grow their own Personal Power.  They already know that when you give of yourself unselfishly to help others grow, that what you get back is multiplied so many times over.

I have written in the past about the struggle that great organizations have in trying to find great employees.  I have no doubt that this struggle will persist into the future.  But as it is now, there will always be great employees out there for those organizations to find, engage, and retain.  In the past two weeks I have had the great privilege to meet close to two dozen of them, and I know that these are just a representative sample of the quality high school students that are out there.  The organizations that capture them will be lucky, indeed.  Hopefully, they will know what to do to unleash the potential in these great young people, provide them with guidance, and allow them to do great things, and not end up crushing their spirits and turning them into unengaged employees.

Hopefully, the latter won’t happen.  Hopefully, someone is out there listening to what they had to say on Saturday, and understand that to be a great manager you have to first serve your employees.

Make a Great Day!