To the graduating governors-elect at the Zone Institute in Indore, RI President Mark Maloney had a four-word message — You are the key. This, he disclosed, was the theme of RI President Ed Cadman (1985–86).
Addressing the convocation ceremony, Maloney said: “I’ve been a Rotarian for a long time, some say for so long that Paul Harris and I were associates. But that’s not quite true.” But with 39 years in Rotary he had a history to draw upon. He became club president in 1985–86, when the then President Cadman gave this theme.
They would be responsible for motivating the club presidents and all Rotarians in their districts in 2020–21 to “perform service to increase the impact of Rotary and to make a difference.”
This class of governors would be the last one to participate at the International Assembly in San Diego. Next year (Jan 2021), the IA moves to Orlando.
“My message to you today is simple. You are the key; between now and July 1 is the most important time of your governorship,” even though they weren’t governors yet. “Because, if you don’t plan it out before July 1, it is probably not going to happen. I hope these two days of the training seminar have given you a good idea of what you want to see your district accomplish in 2020–21.”
Their objective, or role, said the RI President, was not to garner accolades for themselves. “The sign of a true leader is to lead others to perform service and undertake their obligations, and give credit to others for what happens. If you can accomplish that, if you can walk into the office with the humility and leadership in such a way that those who are in your care during the year feel that they have accomplished and they deserve the credit, you would have done your job.”
Addressing the new graduates on “Exceeding expectations”, PRIP Rajendra Saboo told the Class of 20–21 to always remember that “your spouses are the backbone and your strongest support in becoming successful governors.”
He cautioned them to make good use of their GML to stay in touch with the Rotarians in their district, and not palm off the responsibility of writing their monthly message to the editor or an assistant governor. “I find this a very common practice these days; please understand it’s the DG’s monthly letter… a personal communication of ideas from the DG to the Rotarians and cannot and should not be done by proxy.”
Saboo also warned the governors that they should not see their position as an opportunity to climb the “social ladder”, and said he had known a DG who had put a bold nameplate on his car, proclaiming himself “Governor”, even putting a red light on top of his car along with a flag. “When he came to meet me, I saw his car and asked him politely why this show off? Well, his distorted ideas of authority, ethics and values were totally forsaken and he said that it demonstrated his authority as an important person, and wherever he goes, the policeman salutes him.”
The legacy he left behind was starting of new clubs where his family members were made club presidents, abusing TRF grants and ending up “behind bars, his own and Rotary’s image totally damaged. So please have higher and loftier expectations from yourself, and make a place in the hearts of Rotarians and the community.”
Advising them against self-promotion through books and videos “which nobody has the time to read or see”, Saboo recalled his own term as governor when he put the best people in his team, irrespective of whether they had voted for him or not. “If you do that, you will have an excellent team along with perfect harmony in your district.”
He also urged the incoming governors not to neglect their families, recalling how when he became DG, their younger son, only 12 then, asked his wife Usha: “‘Now that Dad will become governor, will I have to ask his secretary for an appointment to meet him?’ We realised the disconnect. We took him with us to the IA and the convention. He was impressed with Rotary and is a Major Donor of TRF, being an AKS member, but he has not become a Rotarian, perhaps because he felt Rotary took away his parents from his childhood.
Please do not ignore your family, or your business. Be with your children and don’t think of making Rotary your career. You will need them both once you are done with your year.”
Saying he was fortunate to have Usha, who was “totally service-focused”, as his wife, he recalled how she had helped make blood donation a successful district project, and even made him donate blood despite his mortal fear of the very sight of blood. “But she said you must have courage and chanting the Hanuman Chalisa, I did my maiden blood donation.”
Saboo advised the DGEs to plan great service projects, set goals and “then go all out to achieve them. Do not depend too much on accolades and compliments. Your own heart, inner voice will tell the truth. Stop pushing so hard on the door looking for happiness, because that door opens inwards.”
Pictures by Rasheeda Bhagat