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.