The most committed Rotarians are not those who listen to great speakers every week or who have leveraged their Rotary network to grow their business. That’s not to say that networking and great programs are not important. They are critical to creating satisfied members. The most committed Rotarians, however, have experienced something beyond that. The most committed Rotarians have experienced FLOW at some time in their Rotary career.
Flow is when a person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing, with a feeling of energized focus as they create success in some activity. Whether in Rotary or elsewhere, many of us have had that feeling of flow, where you get so absorbed in an activity that you lose your sense of time. Can you remember a time like that?
Most of us experience flow in Rotary when we are engaged in worthwhile projects. Great club members help fellow members create flow often. So how do you create flow in your club? Here are some starters:
1. Set clear goals and expectations. What are you trying to accomplish? What are you doing to define what your club is about? Do you have a goal and are you committed to it, or is it just a number on a page? If you don’t have a clear vision for your club or your projects, start now.
2. Focus. Create opportunities for people to dive deeply into a project or club activity. Balance “done in a day” activities with projects that require planning and time. Think of Edina’s bike parade or the Safe Water initiatives. People who get the most joy from these projects tend to be those who were most involved.
3. Provide direct and immediate feedback. When teams work well together, successes and failures are apparent, so team members can adjust as needed. Are you creating trust in your club? How do you learn from your successes and failures? Are people still talking after a project is complete?
4. Balance between ability level and challenge. A walk around the block is not significant to you unless you have had a cast on your ankle for six weeks. Although a slow economy can make it tougher to raise money or increase membership, many clubs find that they succeed anyway. They succeed because they strike a balance between setting goals that are not too easy and not too difficult. Are you stretching your members just enough? Focus on what you want to achieve, not the challenges, reasons and excuses.
5. Provide intrinsic rewards. When activities have meaning, actions become effortless. Are your projects meaningful to your current members? What is the impact of your work? What would happen if your club did not do that project? That doesn’t mean that projects need to address a grave or serious issue. Keep it fun, too.
6. Lose status. People who experience flow report that they found themselves working together where there seemed to be no leader, but the group was well-led. People just rolled up their sleeves, contributed their gifts and stepped in where needed. This explains why many people who are recognized for their great work simply respond by saying, “oh, that was nothing.” How easy do you make it for new members to step in and contribute their talents? Do you know what their talents are? As a leader, are you committed enough to the impact of your project that you are willing to let someone else shine?
When trying to achieve goals, sometimes you need to hold course and sometimes it helps to shift the focus. If you are attracting the kind of people you want in your club, keep it up. If members are staying in your club, despite the economy, despite the fact that their employer no longer pays their dues, keep doing what you are doing. If, however, your focus on inviting new members and keeping new members is NOT working, expand your focus beyond the act of recruiting and asking. Help your members create flow.
This is how people who join Rotary become committed Rotarians. How will you know one when you see one? When you see the shine in their eyes!