Lead with Awesome

Written by Brother Kevan McBeth, Executive Director - Elks of Canada

My wife Cheri owns a photography business here in Regina, and a few years ago she joined a Facebook group that connected her to people from across Canada and the US. Each year, these ladies get together at one of their houses and they spend the weekend visiting and taking photographs in different locations. This year, Cheri is hosting the event, so as of last night, we had guests from Oregon, Miami, Winnipeg, and Texas in our home.  I had never met any of these women before, so one of the first questions they had for me was "So Kevan. What do you do?"

I told them that I work for the Elks of Canada, an amazing fraternal organization that serves Canadian communities across the country and supports children through our national charity, the Elks and Royal Purple Fund for Children. Many of them had heard about the Elks from their interactions with the Elks in their own communities in the US and in Manitoba, and we talked about some really amazing things that the Elks have done in their communities, like supporting over 200 children in one community in Oregon who are so vulnerable at the moment, they can't afford to eat on the weekends - so the Elks provide them with food through a community food bank programs.

The funny thing is, that lately, I have been talking to a lot of people about the Elks and when I share what we do and how amazing some of the things our members are doing in the community, people are intrigued and want to know more. A couple of the people we talked to recently are even fired up enough that they want to start Lodges in their communities! How's that for awesome!!  
 

Changing the way that we talk about ourselves. 

But here's the problem- we don't always tend to lead with the "awesome" when we are out in public and people say "so what do you do?" or "how’s your Lodge doing?”. We tend to focus on some of the negatives that are happening around us. “Well….our membership is down.”, “We can’t seem to find enough volunteers.”, “We don’t have as many people as we used to”. These are all things that we hear ourselves say on a daily basis. In fact- if you Google Elks of Canada, and look at the newsfeed, you’ll see that the majority of the articles and pieces that feature Elks leaders in our communities, we talk about how we are “dwindling in numbers” or “just trying to survive”.

Now, I am not saying that this isn’t true- the truth is that our membership is lower than it was 20 years ago. We have lost some great Lodges along the way as well. And My guess is that, unfortunately, we will lose more in the coming years.
 

But is that the whole picture?

I certainly don't think so. In fact, when I talk with many of you, I hear the passion in your voices- I see the pride in your posture and the smiles on your faces when you talk about what's happening in your Lodges. But, I will admit, there are times when I have to wait a bit and hear about the things that are going wrong before I get to hear about all the things that are going right in your Lodges. 

We need to change that negative tone that we've been leading our conversations with, especially when it comes to representing ourselves our local communities, media and (especially) to potential members. As potential prospects of our Order, would you join a Lodge if what you heard was "our numbers are dwindling", or "We don't ever seem to have enough volunteers"? I think most people would run away as if their hair was on fire after that kind of pitch. 
 

Let's start to lead our conversations with awesome.

What if, instead of telling people the story of how our numbers may be getting smaller, we do something different. We lead with how awesome the members we have are. We lead our conversations with some of the amazing stories that we have about local Lodges doing incredible things for their communities. How about we start our conversations with the fact that we donate millions of dollars to children with hearing disabilities and the provincial programs that support them? We need to start leading our conversations with our Awesome.
 

Show them what it means to be Elks Proud. 

This is why we started the Elks Proud movement- to get us all re-focusing our thoughts and our actions behind what is really important. About WHY we are all here.

When we have a chance to share who we are, what we do and why we do it, share with people your stories, like the ones that we've shared recently on social media. Give people a glimpse into the pride and passion that you have for your organization. Speak to people about the things that get you excited about being an Elk. Show them that and the rest will take care of itself. 

And when we start to do that as an entire Order, we’ll begin to feel that sense of pride in our Lodges and ourselves, and that pride will spill over into our communities and attract those friends and colleagues to the Lodge. When we lead with awesome, I promise you – more awesome will follow.

 

The Climb Starts Today

Written by Brother Kevan McBeth, Executive Director- Elks of Canada

As usual, the month of July was a crazy one for Grand Lodge, culminating in yet another great Convention in Langley, where we saw the installation of our very first female Grand Exalted Ruler, Sister Deb Sallenback. If you haven't had a chance to check out some of the photos and news articles of the event, I would encourage you to check out the Elks of Canada Facebook page for some of the coverage from the event

As there is every year, there is always a renewed sense of optimism within the delegates that were present about the future direction of the Order, but I have to say - there was something else happening this year in the air that gave people a greater level of excitement than there normally does. There was a real sense of pride and accomplishment within the membership present,  and a feeling of something that we haven't felt in a while....optimism. 

Just listen to many of our members talk about what it means to be an Elk in the National Convention 2017 Recap video below. You can hear the pride and optimism in their voices as they share their stories....

That optimism wasn't just created out of thin air- it was something that we as an Order have been working on for a while now, but came to a head in some of our pre-convention meetings and conversations with our Provincial Presidents, our Grand Executive team and even in the future leaders of the Order who were present for the Leadership Training program during the pre-convention sessions (many of whom stayed and participated in the Convention proceedings by the way).


We have been in a state of change for 15 years

Its been a long time coming for us. We have come through a long and painful change process through at least the last 10 years, but from what I have been told we may have been experiencing the negative effects of change for as many as 15 years.

In the corporate world,  a change processes within a company looks like the description below. The decision to make an initial change actually starts off with a lot of optimism and excitement, but once the realization of the difficulty that is associated with the change sets in, engagement starts to drop, and drop fast, until people eventually either completely check out, or they leave. 


The Valley of Tears

This drop actually has a name- people call it the Valley of Tears - a place where organizations that are trying to make meaningful change tend to get stuck. A place where pessimism and dissension starts to take over and the finger pointing starts to happen. A place where organizations tend to focus and accentuate the negative, further driving down the engagement of their people. A place, where sadly, some organizations never recover from. 

Truth be told, this is where we as an Order have been sitting for some time now.  We have been stuck in the Valley of Tears, focusing our efforts on trying to keep our members from leaving, and keeping some of our Lodges and members from creating internal conflict. We've accentuated the negative of our Order, and we've lost many of our members because of it. We'd lost perspective of why we are here. 

The good news is that there is a way to climb out of the Valley of Tears, through hopeful realism- a realization and re-focusing of who we are, what we do and why we do it. 

The crazy thing is this- as Elks, we continue to amazing things in communities across Canada, helping thousands of children and their families who need someone in their corner when their struggles are too large for them to tackle, and support vital programs that without us, may cease to exist altogether. 
 

Our Climb out of the valley of tears starts now

The climb has already started, we just haven't been talking about it. We haven't shared it widely with a sense of pride. We haven't been optimistic about our future. But in order for us to get to that level of discovery and hope to rise above the level of engagement that we need to GROW our membership rather than lose members year over year, we need to change the way that we talk about ourselves. We need to celebrate the work that is being done and open our eyes to the amazing work that our people are doing around us. 
 

It's time to start telling our stories

That feeling of optimism that we were all feeling at Convention? We can't allow it to die after we all leave the Gala Dinner in Langley - we have to be committed to taking that optimism and spreading it across the organization. We need everyone to start to feel the pride and excitement that we were feeling a few weeks back, and if they are already feeling it, we need them to share it with others too! 

Our problem is, at times, we are our own worst enemy when it comes to proudly showing others our accomplishments. We are kind, but also humble. That humility tends to manifest itself in being lower-key when it comes to celebrating our accomplishments at times. 

But if we are uncomfortable in blowing our own horns, nobody else is going to do it either. We need to stop feeling as though celebrating loudly our accomplishments is something that is boastful. It isn't boastful. It's being proud of who we are. 

At Grand Lodge, we are going to be spending a considerable amount of time telling your stories this year- sharing some of the great things that are happening in Lodges across Canada and giving you all the recognition and kudos you deserve as members. It's one of the reasons why we started this blog, so we can get more information out to you in a more timely fashion.

We're also going to be more diligent in sharing some of those stories that somehow get lost in the shuffle when it comes to the impact of your kindness through the Elks and Royal Purple Fund for Children. We need to bring back the concept of being Elks Proud and help us all realize that what we have here is not only worth maintaining, but growing and building for the future. 

Over the next little while, I hope that you will get involved by telling your own stories, sharing your pride with your fellow Elks, but also the world at large. We need to stop being the best-kept secret in the world and start being the best-known place for people to belong to. 

Our climb starts now. And it starts with the efforts of each and every one of us. Together we can do some pretty incredible stuff. 

Let's do this.