I have just returned from RYLA, which is the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards. This is a camp for high school students around the country where they are immersed in the concepts around leadership and character building over four full days. This is an annual event held locally by Rotary District 5240 at a camp deep in the Los Padres National Forest and hosted by Rotarians, business owners, and thought leaders. This year we once again had two hundred forty teenagers who were taught and encouraged to develop and hone their leadership skills through a series of trainings, workshops, and activities. I can personally attest to the fact that many lives were transformed over this four day weekend event.
I’ve been a part of RYLA for eight of the past eleven years. Even though the event leaves me physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted each year I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything in the world. I always return with renewed hope in our future leaders and with new ideas and insights as to how leadership fits in to everything we do in our personal and business lives.
Personally, I enjoy sharing my expertise in the area of goal setting and achieving with the group of teens I work closely with over the four days. Many of them stay in contact with me over the years and have told me this was what they have used the most since leaving camp. One young man is now in his sophomore year at an Ivy League university and continues to use the goal setting techniques I taught him three years ago.
It is my belief that we are all leaders. It’s worthwhile to develop and hone your skills in this area to be more effective in all areas of your personal life and business. Leadership can mean the difference between success and failure. Leadership is inclusive. Leadership is beneficial to all concerned, one of the pieces of Rotary’s “4-Way Test”.
The components of leadership include team building, ethics, character, attitude, integrity, commitment, goal setting, communication, vision, courage, diversity, and execution. These are all areas where we have the opportunity to take the lead and change the world. How can you incorporate these concepts into what you do each day?
In my online business I host a virtual team meeting at least once each month. Everyone has a voice and will be heard, and I am the leader. Because my business is predominantly online, everything I write, say, and do may be visible to the world in a variety of ways. Long ago I made the conscious decision that I would hold everything I think, say, and do to the highest standards of integrity. This serves you well over a lifetime, as I have learned.
Include your family and business team members (these could be partners, employees, or independent contractors) in monthly or quarterly goal setting sessions. Goals must be written down and reviewed regularly to truly be effective. Discuss ethics, character, attitude, commitment, and integrity in a manner that draws out even the most introverted team member. Stress the importance of the Vision and Mission of your life and business regularly. Encourage honest and open communication so that relationships are strengthened over time and diversity is welcomed. And share the value of having the courage to execute your goals every day.
This past weekend I witnessed life changing moments for hundreds of students and adults alike. Within this conglomeration of people from throughout the central regions of California a community or tribe was established. It encompassed diversity of background, thought, experiences, and opinion and culminated in a mutual respect and friendship that will carry through for lifetimes. Those who assumed they would be judged discovered that their uniqueness was a treasure to be uncovered by the rest of us.
Creating this type of safe haven for your family members and business associates may result in greater results than you could ever have imagined. And if you have the opportunity to be a part of the Rotary RYLA program in your area, step up and be a leader for the group.