We are often encouraged to think outside the box, but that still means we are tied to the same box. Why don’t we think of a new box?
After all, things must change. We have been great as an organization, our contributions have been fabulous. Our place in the museum of human civilization is reserved. But as what? As a curator of the museum? Or as a museum piece on the shelves of history? The choice will be ours. No organisation or individual can claim a permanent place of prominence based only on one’s past actions. It is imperative that they remain contemporary. Lions are thus obliged to serve the communities as per the current needs. We must appreciate that needs, delivery mechanisms and communication channels have undergone a sea change. The pace of change in social behaviour has been unimaginable, more so, in the recent past. Staying contemporary means that we stay abreast with change.
I heard Vice President Brian Sheehan make a remark that some day perhaps in the next century of service, we would have an international president who would be in their twenties!! That appears to be a metaphor today, God alone knows if that will become a reality, may be beyond our lifespan.
One of the important principles of being contemporary is to accept the power of diversity. This is a world where perhaps the laws of nature can only be considered to be absolute, everything else is relative. We need to realize that peacocks look great in all their wonderful colors, but we also have purely white peacocks (in Australia); dogs bark, but we also have dogs that are mute (in uppermost Africa); fish lives in water, but we have some kind of fish that can stay for even months underground (in Tunisia); rainbow appears on the sky, but I have seen it play at my feet and even lower in the valley at Victoria falls (in Zambia and Zimbabwe); penguins are found on snow, but there are domesticated penguins on sandy beaches of South Africa; night and day alternate, but ask our friends from Scandinavian countries and they have a separate story to tell.
In a world of such diversity, where the likes of garage operators (where did Steve Jobs and company start?) have redefined business trends, and young students have the power to alter our social behavior, we need to be open to new ideas. We are living in interesting times, and exploring what the new normal will look like.
What is common today between jeans, apartments and steel? The answer is: all are sold on E-Bay. This is a world of transparency, we have moved away from encyclopedias to Wikipedia, that’s a defining change; we live in a world where Google has become a verb.
One thing that really breathes life into organizations like ours is that even individuals like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet openly admit that wealth means nothing ultimately. It must be applied for a real good purpose. That is the most important thing. Otherwise, the purpose of wealth accumulation is not achieved. There are studies that prove that individuals committed to community service and social causes have better mental and physical health. Making life meaningful through service to those and where it is needed is the key. If that be it, we as Lions are blessed; we are absolutely on the right track.
Even while serving as Lions, mediocrity can never be our credo.
Nothing short of excellence suits us. So what’s the bottom line for us: open mind, readiness to unlearn and learn, accept change, appreciate diverse views, work in cross cultural environments, understand the current needs, package our service accordingly, and stay committed to excellence, all of this with utmost humility.