Reading time – 38 seconds . . .
I recently presented to the local Rotary club and it was my first exposure to Rotary since a visit when I was in high school. Back then I was all about playing football and guitar, hanging out with friends and getting a date. I was hunkered down in my adolescent world and the Rotary message of service to others didn’t have a chance of sticking.
Things have changed and, like you, I see with different eyes. From Wikipedia:
Until 1955, when the Salk vaccine was introduced, polio was considered one of the most frightening public health problems in the world. In the postwar United States, annual epidemics were increasingly devastating. The 1952 U.S. epidemic was the worst outbreak in the nation’s history. Of nearly 58,000 cases reported that year, 3,145 people died and 21,269 were left with mild to disabling paralysis, with most of its victims being children.
That’s how it was. For a more intimate understanding about polio than is offered by cold statistics, read this article by my boyhood pal Ed Sass, professor emeritus at the College of St. Benedict/St. Johns University in St. Joseph, MN. He’s a survivor and has collected the stories of many others. What they have to say may surprise you.
Once the Salk vaccine became available, some people decided to eradicate this debilitating disease from the planet. Rotary has been instrumental in that and now worldwide incidence of childhood polio has been reduced by 99.9%. Can you imagine what that means to billions of people? Does that touch you? Well, this story has lessons for you in more ways than you might imagine.
Daniel Goleman taught us in his 1995 book Emotional Intelligence that we humans are not thinking beings that feel; we are feeling beings that think. We make our decisions emotionally and justify them rationally. For example, Rotary can explain the economic benefit of a healthy workforce and the expense avoided by keeping children healthy and all of that would be true. And it would completely fail to inspire people to do the heroic work that continues to be necessary. The driving power for people to be our best comes from the heart.
Are you reaching those who look to you for leadership in that way – in the heart? Of course, that’s easy to do when what is at stake is saving children’s lives and it’s not as easy when you’re manufacturing widgets. Still, you’re the leader and you must provide the inspiration that reaches people at that level if they are to make the choice to give all of themselves to their work. You don’t get people’s best by means of a paycheck. You get it from the heart.
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