How will you be changed?

I am deep into planning for Rotary year 2019-2020 when I will be serving as District Governor for District 7710, in central North Carolina.  There is much to do, from light-hearted party planning, to identifying people to serve in numerous volunteer roles, to developing the critically important vision and focus for the year.  While the Rotary International theme for 2019-20 will not be announced for more than six months, it is certain to be designed to inspire us to take action, to make a difference, at home, around the world and in ourselves.  In essence, we will be asked to make a change, a significant change, a lasting change.  And change is hard!

Lately, I’ve been reading about change and considering what worked for my clients when they were making positive changes for their health.  What seems to work best is to ‘shrink the change’, as described in the book:  Switch by Chip and Dan Heath.  The Heaths suggest taking small steps that will lead to short-term meaningful change.  These small successes will support the actions needed for ongoing, significant change.  I’ll illustrate the concepts with two examples, one a nutrition and health goal and the other a Rotary goal.


Rotary Example—the club membership has gradually declined over the last several years, now it is at a level that makes it difficult to find members to serve in key leadership roles.  While members recognize the problem, no one is doing much about it, as they ‘hate sales’ and figure that the Membership Chair should be the one recruiting new members.

Health Example—over the last several years, your weight has gradually increased, to the point that your doctor is concerned about the risks of diabetes and high blood pressure.  The issue is obvious, but everyone knows that ‘diets don’t work!’

Step 1a—Engage the Heart

Rotary Example—during a club meeting, members share why being a Rotarian is important to them.  Perhaps it is the fellowship and working with friends, making a difference in the community.  Establish a heart-felt membership goal and due date; “have a net gain of 3 members in one year, by June 30, 2019 to increase club’s ability to have an impact in our community.”

Health Example—find a reason why losing weight and improving health is important to you now.  Perhaps you’d like to be able to play with your kids or grand kids more easily, or maybe there is a wedding in a few months, or perhaps a health scare was all the motivation you needed to consider losing weight, now.  Establish realistic health goals and due date:  “lose 20 pounds in 3 months, prior to our big vacation, so I can fully participate in the outdoor activities.”

OK, while rallying the troops to the cause and caring passionately about change is important, it doesn’t actually need to be the first step.  However, passion is important to help sustain positive movement over time.  The important thing is to get moving in the right direction.

Step 1b—Three Steps Forward

Choose three, small, easy to implement steps that move you in the right direction.

Rotary Example

  1. Collect names of potential members—during a club meeting, ask all members to refer to their smart phone to provide the name, profession, email and cell phone number of at least 3 potential members. Ask the member if they would like to have assistance contacting the prospective member, or will they contact the prospect themselves?  Develop a database of the potential members, to be used in marketing campaigns.
  2. Schedule new member events every 3-6 weeks. Ideas:  powerful speaker scheduled for the first meeting of each month, conduct an in-meeting project, hold an informal social event, conduct regular ‘get to know us’ events.
  3. Publicize the events. Invite potential members to the event by phone, email, text and social media.  Encourage every member to bring a potential member to each event.

Health Example

  1. Remove ‘junk food’ from the house, car and office. It is obvious that if high calorie, tasty, low nutrition food is available, that you’ll be tempted to eat it.  So, remove the temptation.  Avoid the company break room, throw away fliers and business cards of food-delivery services and remove them from your electronic contact list.
  2. Choose a ‘real food’ based meal plan with limited choices. While there are any number of approaches to losing weight, the easiest have clear guidelines with few choices.  Examples—low-carb Paleo or a Mediterranean diet.
  3. Eat when you are hungry and record what you eat. Eating mindfully is a time-tested approach to long-term weight loss.  Therefore, eating slowly when you are hungry, and recording your food intake in a paper or digital diary will reinforce your positive food choices.

Step 2—Build on Success & Don’t Give up!

Significant change takes time, and often requires mid-course corrections.  Every month or two, analyze the progress towards the goal, and adjust, as necessary, while maintaining the activities that form the basis for the change.  Illustrating progress on a graph can help keep you and your team motivated to do the work necessary to achieve the goals.

Rotary Example

Continue to gather names of potential Rotarians, conduct new member events and publicize club activities.  Now that these basics are well established, add a new activity to accelerate the rate of membership growth.  Perhaps increase the frequency of follow-up with prospective members, establish an on-going email marketing campaign or post more often on social media.

Health Example

While continuing to eat real food, when hungry, and recording food intake, add something else to the mix to accelerate weight loss and improve health.  Maybe meal planning or improving sleep or increasing activity would be helpful.

Step 3—Celebrate Success!

Celebrate positive activity as well as milestones achieved.  Maintain the focus on the activities that are creating success.

Rotary Example

Recognize members that bring prospective members to events and add to the prospect list.  Create a ‘thermometer graph’ to remind the club of the membership growth goal and progress to date.

Health Example

Monitoring progress beyond the scale is critical for successful change in eating patterns.  Consider tracking:  blood pressure, waist size, blood sugar, number of days/month that all food was recorded, exercise, etc.  Celebrate progress to goal with a little (non-food) treat!

How will I ‘Shrink the Change’ during Rotary year 2019-20?  I’m preparing a digital toolkit with easy to use templates and guidelines for common Rotary Club activities and issues.  The District will have a team dedicated to support clubs as they work through challenges.  We will enhance our training programs and public image initiatives.  Plus, we will encourage clubs to build upon their successful activities to make an even greater impact.

How will you change?

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