PRIP Kalyan Banerjee's Speech @ IA 13 - Text
Our Core Values
Kalyan Banerjee, Past RI President
Good morning and namashkar. I am delighted to be here with all of you this morning, our Rotary leaders of the future.
I know that many of you have come here after very long trips, and though you have been here for about four days, I am sure that the excitement of these days is helping you overcome whatever jet lag is still keeping you awake at nights, because you are already well into a very, very busy week here in San Diego. Believe me, you have my sympathies, because coming from where I do, I know what it is like to get off a flight from the other side of the world and go straight into business. The clock on the wall says one thing, your watch says another, you are trying to work out what the clock at home is saying, and your body clock says, "I give up." But somehow, we all live through it and love it, too. And as one who has gone through quite a few events like this one, I am going to tell you one thing that you will do well to remember: You aren't going to be getting much time to sleep while you are here.
But you are going to get motivated. And perhaps just a bit awestruck at what you are experiencing here.
Indeed, how could you not be awestruck, just looking around you today? Because what we have in this room is nothing short of amazing 530 men and women from every corner of the world, from more than 200 countries. And as you all crowd into the hotel's elevators, you are seeing people in dress that you have never seen before and hearing languages that you have never heard. And the really amazing thing is that it makes us all stop and wonder at the miracle of Rotary, for we are all here for the same reasons. We are here because we love Rotary. We are here because of what we can do because of Rotary, and because we want to do more of it.
But more than anything else, what really strikes us most here the one aspect that we don't always think about is the incredible diversity of Rotary and the opportunity to make friends and be friendly ourselves, starting from right down at our own club and district levels, from where each one of us comes.
You know, I have often wondered at the genius of our founder, Paul Harris at this incredibly simple idea of good people, honest people, getting together in friendship, bonhomie, and good- will. And when these folks come from different backgrounds and have lived their lives doing different tasks, would not the effect and the impact of their coming together be more joyous and more vibrant and help get all of them closer together because of the very excitement of the diversity? It was Paul who also said that Rotary must be revolutionary some of the time and evolutionary all of the time. And so it is perhaps natural that even in those early days, it was clear that while coming together was a great beginning, the point of getting together had to be the work we do together, the service we perform, the difference we make in our communities. Indeed, fellowship in our clubs often creates the environment in which we serve better and more. And this I have seen: You always get a club with lively fellowship when you have a mix of experienced and newer members. And then they all get together to do more.
Indeed, when someone asks what Rotary is, and we are somewhat uncertain about our answer, I believe we need to tell them simply about those things that have kept Rotary strong even after more than 100 years: service, fellowship, diversity, integrity, and an obvious corollary, leadership.
We have always lived by our core values, the roots of the Rotary tree that make its branches spread far and wide and strong, through its more than 34,000 clubs. It is a big tree and growing bigger.
Let me change gears a bit. While fellowship and diversity are our strengths, what really characterizes Rotarians is our focus on integrity, our commitment to high ethical standards in our businesses and professions, the morality and the values we uphold. I believe we do this better than any other organization, through our Avenue of Vocational Service. No other organization highlights this more than we do. I believe it is important that Rotarians serve as role models in our communities, and that must start with each one of us here in this room. The high standards we set and the level to which we follow them determine our credibility.
I have often cited Gandhi's story about the time he was in jail in the city of Nagpur in India. His wife, Kasturba, was allowed to see him once a week for one hour, when he would be brought out of his cell and allowed to meet her in a demarcated area. On one occasion, a new jail warden, out of respect for Gandhi's privacy, left the two of them alone so that they could talk. But when he returned, there was Gandhi, holding his wife's hand but not uttering a word. The jailer was perplexed. "Is anything wrong, Mr. Gandhi?" he asked. "Are you OK?" Gandhi smiled and said, "My dear man, you know the jail rules better than I. Prisoners are not supposed to talk to another person unless an official is present. How do you expect me to break the rules?"
Was Gandhi being foolish? Impractical? Maybe. Following the righteous path may sometimes look foolish and impractical, particularly in the short term. But we all know that, in the long run, we can only weaken our society if we compromise on principles and values, whether legal or moral. And make ourselves very vulnerable, too.
At a recent graduation ceremony at the Indian School of Business in Bangalore, the speaker urged the graduates to remember: Ethical behavior may seem difficult at times, even foolish, but if you compromise on ethics and integrity and doing what is right, I assure you that you will not go too far in your careers. The best way forward is to apply the highest standard of morality to your lives, and if you sometimes face a challenge, don't change the standards but try to change your lives.
Well, that speaker was certainly a Rotarian in spirit. We need to be always promoting the best practices in business as Rotarians, and be seen to be doing so, and it has to start with all of us here, in this room this morning.
Integrity in life and in business is what started us in the first place. And fellowship and diversity are what bond us all together. But the main thing, the point of why we are here, why we all stay together in our clubs and in Rotary, has to be our work. It has to be the service, the difference we are making, whether we are working locally in our own communities or are engaged in bringing the whole world together clubs and districts and governments and nongovernmental organizations and UN agencies and everyone else to eradicate a disease from the earth, for example.
Over the past few minutes, I have been talking about our core values and about service, because everything we do in Rotary as Rotarians and as the leaders that you are has to be based on these, and has to be based on trust. If you take all the qualities of a great leader and you sum them up in one word, that's what that word would be: trust.
You know that whatever happens, great leaders are not going to take more than their share of the credit or less than their share of the blame.
If you go to them with a problem, they'll be ready and willing to help. They're not there to judge or criticize, they're there to help you see the problem more clearly so that you can see it through.
A great leader is someone you can trust not necessarily to have all the answers but to be able tofind them. And it's someone who will listen, who will not dismiss your concerns, who will take the time to take you seriously.
What's the gold standard of great leadership? In Rotary, I think it's very simple. It's being the kind of leader about whom every Rotarian in your district says, "You know, if I am ever a district governor, I'd want to be a district governor just like him or just like her."
That's because, in Rotary, part of leadership is being a role model. Leading in Rotary isn't like leading anywhere else. You are leading equals even betters. You are not there to give orders. You are there to give support.
And it's only for a year, so there's not much time to get a big head but also not much time to get things done, so you've got to keep moving. And of course, once you've finished being the leader, which happens quite quickly, you know exactly where you're going right back to your old seat in your own club, as someone else takes the office you've just left.
Though our office is only for one year just one it's natural that each of us wants to make our mark. But I can tell you right now that if you try to start from scratch and achieve something monumental with your name on it in just one year, you are bound for failure. To really succeed, you have to look beyond yourself, past your year, and into the long term, at the health of your clubs, your community, and our organization.
So when you start the 2013-14 Rotary year, remember that the best thing you can do for your district is to leave it stronger than you found it. The question is not, "What can you do in just one year?" but "How far can you bring your district in just one year?" what can you build on, what can you begin, what can you do for your clubs that will still be going, still be moving, still be changing lives for the better long after you've left office?
And we each have to remember that, in the end, it doesn't matter who thought of it or who gets the credit. Indira Gandhi, the late prime minister of India, once said there are two kinds of people in our world: those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try always to belong to the first group. There is much less competition there.
My brothers and sisters, it is not about us. It's not even about the work we do. It's about the work that gets done.
Good luck. God bless.
Source : Rotary International
Courtesy : www.eflashonline.org