Posts Tagged Leadership

The YMCA is now “The Y” & Strong Kids Campaign Kickoff

The Y - Strong Kids Campaign Kickoff

Tonight, I attended the kickoff event for the YMCA’s Strong Kids Campaign.  There were hundreds of people—both young and old—in attendance at the event.  I am so impressed by the work of Jim Everett, CEO of the Treasure Valley Family YMCA and Larry Koomler, chairman of the board.  These are two outstanding leaders in the Boise Valley community.

The event began with a brief recap of the 120-year history of the YMCA, which included several short videos and speeches highlighting the development of a community organization that began in 1891.  In case you didn’t know (this was new to me just a few months ago) the YMCA was once called the Young Mens Christian Association.

The event quickly picked up steam by showcasing several touching and inspirational testimonials including: a young refugee boy (from Iraq) who learned (in less than 10 months) how to swim, make friends and become part of a new community; a middle-aged man who wanted to be a role model to his family and ended up losing over 60 pounds; a young woman who became healthy enough to start her own family; and a very young boy who is building confidence and learning the value of education (he also charmed the audience with his ability to recite and explain the YMCA’s values).

The energetic and accomplished Superintendent of the Caldwell School District, Roger Quarles, gave an inspiring message about the real impact created by the YMCA in his community.  He shared a story that delivered a powerful message: the YMCA helps build strong kids and a strong community.  Mr. Quarles focused on real impact over a very brief time frame.  His story discussed the difference made in the Caldwell community over a five-year span: pre-YMCA and post-YMCA.  Here’s a list of some his his most notable statements from the impact of building the Caldwell YMCA:

  • School expulsion hearings went from 100 down to a single case
  • The average student attendance rate increased from 85% to almost 98%
  • This year’s 3rd grade class became the highest performing 3rd graders in the history of the school district
  • The Caldwell School District has the highest increase in student performance in Idaho

Very impressive.  The YMCA truly helps build a better community by supporting youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. They are instilling values in the lives of our community’s youth.  It seems as if everyone connected to the YMCA can state their 4 core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.

Even with all these impressive stories, the YMCA recognized a very important issue.  Most people in the country know about the YMCA and generally like the organization, but most people do not clearly understand what the organization is about.  The standard answer, as they mentioned during the event, is that a YMCA is a “gym and swim.” Many people also don’t realize the YMCA is a not-for-profit organization that is cause driven.

To help change this misperception, the YMCA is launching a national effort to revitalize its brand by changing its logo to reflect what most people say when mentioning the YMCA: The Y.  Check out the Treasure Valley Family YMCA page and take a look at their cool new logo, look and feel.

I have no doubt the Y will continue to improve its brand recognition and gain more dedicated volunteers and members to join its cause.  The Y is one of the few organizations I can think of that can get most of their staff, as well as thousands of volunteers and children, to easily state and explain its values.

For example, over the past few years I’ve read multiple applications from students applying to our Leadership Boise Academy program (a Chamber-led community leadership program for junior-level high school students in the Boise Valley) highlighting the Y in their definitions of leadership and community involvement.  Guess what?  Most students write about the four values without being asked to do so!!

We live in an amazing community.  The Y is dedicated to helping keep our communities strong.  The Y stands for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. This is a noble cause and I am happy to be a part of their call to give, volunteer and advocate on behalf of their Strong Kids Campaign. Will you join me?  Be a part of something greater than yourself. Here’s how to start.


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My First Read of 2010: The story behind book 1 of 24

The Effective Executive

Confucius once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  My “single step” toward accomplishing my reading goal of 24 new books in 2010 began with The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker.

OK, I’ll admit, reading a 174 page book isn’t the pinnacle of achievement, but it’s a start.  If you read my last blog post you may be wondering why I selected this particular book by Drucker.  Although it wasn’t even on my radar at the time, a serendipitous event took place that compelled me to start with The Effective Executive as my first new read in 2010.  Here’s the story…

Once a month I have the pleasure of investing two hours of my life to personal and professional development with a group of peers.  This is not the only development group I participate in, but it is one of my favorites.  The group is led by one of the most impressive leaders I have ever met, my friend, Ron Price.  Ron is the “mentor” leading a b|wise group through the Boise Young Professionals program, which I oversee at the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce.

Each month I meet with my b|wise group and we discuss topics regarding individual and group personality and strength profiles, Ron’s book Finding Hidden Treasures, and other areas that lead group members to discover their potential as leaders.  During our group’s December meeting, Ron asked each of us to read a chapter in his book and complete the action items at the end of the chapter.  The action items I completed at the end of chapter five led me to write my January 2 post about my 2009/2010 book list.

Over the past few years, I have heard numerous people recommend books by Peter Drucker.  I enjoy reading business books and love to learn about leadership, management, marketing, innovation, entrepreneurship, and other professional development related information.  During my January b|wise meeting, I mentioned that I had the goal of reading at least one book by Peter Drucker and Ron suggested I start with The Effective Executive. A few other members of the group also chimed in and offered their support of Ron’s suggestion.  So, I stored the book title in my mind and made a decision to add the book to my 2010 reading list.

The following morning I walked into the Chamber offices, but went through the main lobby instead of my regular path past the hallway.  A stack of about seven books, which were placed on the top corner of the first desk in the office, caught my eye as I began walking toward my office.  To my complete surprise, the book placed on top of the short stack was none other than, The Effective Executive.  I asked around the office and quickly learned that the stack of books were just dropped off and donated to the Chamber’s business library.  So of course, I decided to borrow the book and begin reading it ASAP.

After the serendipitous event, I decided to write a quick email to my b|wise group and share the story.  I also committed to read Drucker’s book before completing any other book, since it seemed like someone was trying to signal me to capture the moment.

In my next post, I will highlight some of the many lessons learned from The Effective Executive and share them as part two of my 2010 goal to write at least one blog post about each of the 24+ books I read during the year.  Stay tuned for more.


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Pain + Discomfort = Growth & Progress

Pain and discomfort are two words that represent feelings most people spend their time avoiding.  Growth and progress are two words that can represent the end result of going through pain and discomfort.  I thought about these four words today while I was working out at the gym.  

Why do I, and others, push past the point of pain and discomfort when working out?  Do I really need to finish this last repetition?  Do I really need to continually push myself when my muscles ache?  If I want to grow stronger, leaner, and more fit, then the answer is simply, yes.  

Today, I stopped to think about a basic principle of lifting weights.  If I work out four to five times each week, but use the exact same weights each time I lift, then I will only maintain my strength and size.  However, if I want to grow in size and strength I need to change my workout repetitions and slowly add heavier weights over time.  Without putting my body through physical pain and discomfort my muscles will not grow larger.  Remember the saying, “no pain no gain,” right?

As I thought about this idea during my workout today I realized the same principle exists with my personal and professional growth and progress.  Similar to what Albert Einstein once noted, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” How can I expect to grow and progress in my leadership abilities if I continue to do the same things over and over again?  I need to put myself in different situations and challenge myself to grow.

One of my college professors, Chris Meade, Ph.D., at George Fox University’s Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership program, once said that leaders must love and accept problems.  The reason he said: “Leaders become magnets for problems.”  He was saying that in order to lead, a leader must seek out and welcome constant problems and challenges.  I believe he was teaching us the importance of leading through change and being the front person to tackle difficult situations and overcome great obstacles.  After all, isn’t that what makes someone a great leader anyway?  

I thought it was an interesting message he was giving us, and at the time, I wondered if that is what I wanted out of life.  Why would anyone really want to deal with problems and difficult situations all the time?  Well, that’s what leaders do, they lead.  I thought long and hard about this message and decided, during class, that leadership was still a passion of mine.  

I started thinking about examples of how leaders become magnets for problems.  Then I began to realize something very interesting.  Looking back at promotions and increased responsibilities during my career I remembered that problems always increased as I moved up in the company.  If I did well with small problems and challenges, then I was given more, and larger problems to overcome.  

Another example would be in community leadership and volunteerism.  An interesting result happens to really good board members and committee leaders.  They get asked to take on more responsibilities, gain invitations to join other boards, and move up in the hierarchy of the organization.  Why does this always happen?  Because people, businesses, and organizations of all sizes need leaders, doers, and problem solvers.  There will never be a time when leaders are not needed in this world.

These thoughts made me think about the term Kaizen, Sir Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion and Stephen R. Covey’s 7th Habit (7 Habits of Highly Effective People): Sharpen the Saw.  Each example is similar, but different in many ways.  Let me explain.

Kaizen is Japanese for “improvement” and is usually referred to as the continuous improvement in all areas of your life. Stagnation is the result of complacency.  Good is the enemy of great.  Society needs to continually improve.  Leaders need to continually improve.  I need to continually push to improve my health and fitness, because everyday my body is aging.  

Newton’s Law’s of Motion state that objects in motion will remain in motion unless met with an unbalanced or greater force.  People are creatures of habit.  I’m sure you have noticed this by now.  Most people resist change and like things to stay status quo.  Change is uncomfortable and sometimes painful.  Many people resist change until something causes them to change.  Ever seen what happens when someone is continually pushed and challenged in their work and personal lives?  Many times these people grow and progress.  On the other hand, have you seen what happens to some people when they are not challenged or pushed?  They can remain the same, stagnant and complacent.  

Finally, Covey’s 7th Habit urges people to continually develop, grow and practice.  You know what happens to a saw if you continually use it without sharpening the blade.  It becomes dull.  Driving your car without regular maintenance will ruin your engine.  The same thing happens with your mind and career.  Personal maintenance is critically important to your health and well-being.  

With all that said, how can I continue to grow and progress in my workouts and career development?  The answer is to accept the pain and discomfort that comes with the territory.  Being in great physical shape is not easy.  Being a leader is not easy.  To some, leadership and physical fitness come naturally.  To the rest of us, we must continually work at it and accept the challenge, pain and discomfort to keep growing and progressing in our lives.


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