Most Rotarians become members because they want to serve the local and international community with the idea of helping to make the world a better place. A good way of accomplishing this mission is to help Rotary clubs achieve their goals, whatever they may be. Volunteering to serve Rotarians in Rotary clubs other than your own can be a challenging experience for those who step up to do it. That’s because each Rotary club is a unique blend of personalities and traditions and Rotary International has much to say about what Rotary Clubs could do, but surprisingly little to say about what Rotary clubs MUST do. Other than paying your dues, having a meeting, hosting the District Governor for a visit, and doing a service project, Rotary clubs can be pretty much anything they want to be and do things pretty much the way they want to do them. Therefore what makes for a “good,” “better,” or “best” club is strictly in the eye of the beholder.
Which is why trying to give advice to Rotary Clubs can be a somewhat frustrating task, and why the Rotarians who volunteer to do it tend to be a fairly desperate breed of individual with a penchant for self-loathing. The men and women who sign up for the very high level of abuse that comes with trying to give sound advice to Rotary Clubs are called Area Governor’s, or “AGs.” The following clip from the movie, Officer and a Gentlemen, gives you an idea of how we have to “break down” our AG Trainees in order to build them back up and gives you, the viewer, a good understanding of the fragile psychological makeup of an AG. (NOTE: Instead of “I want to fly jets” please substitute the line, “I want to help the Rotarians in the Rotary clubs in my area.”) (Note #2: I’ve seen this many times in AG training over the years and it isn’t pretty, believe me.) (Note: #3: In Rotary, “DOR” means “Drop Out of Rotary.”)
I’m kidding. I’m kidding. The truth is that our AGs are some of the most committed, educated, and motivated Rotarians you are likely to find. They constantly find ways to be a valuable resource for the Rotary Clubs in their area. If you ask them, they can tell you all about the clubs they serve and have a good understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. A good AG can make a huge difference in the life of a Club, just because they can be an objective sounding board for ideas, as well as a great resource for club leaders to find out about the “best practices” of other clubs in the area, and of course, in the District.
We recently held a training session for our newest AGs where they had the opportunity to learn about the AG craft (yup…it’s a craft) from some of our most experienced AGs. As we learned from some of the very best, AG Larry Leahy, AG David Miller, DGN Anna Mae Kobbe, and DG Bill Fine, being a great AG is more “art” than science, and the ability to help Rotary clubs to improve is all about building trusting relationships with the Rotarians in the clubs that you serve.
This particular group of trainees seems to have survived their AG basic training in good shape and by all appearances is going to do a great job for their clubs! If you are wondering just how good it feels to take your Rotary service to the next level, please let your current AG, or the District Leadership team, know you are interested. Serving other Rotary clubs through District-level service is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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