When I was younger, I was somewhat cynical about business. I grew up in the working class then went into the USAF for 9.5 years. I think my view point was somewhat like business was a necessary evil. Ironically I went into sales and marketing when I got out of the Air Force. However, those attitudes may explain why my career was up and down for so long because I chose to work for companies I did not fully respect.
After fourteen years, I finally found a company I did believe in. Unfortunately, it grew beyond our owners’ ability to handle. When they failed, I started my own believing that I knew more about management than most of the people I had worked for. Be that as it may, I discovered that just because you started a small business doesn’t automatically make you feel like a business owner.
What I Personally Got Out of Joining Rotary International
The thing that most helped my self-esteem interestingly wasn’t directly related to my business. I joined the Rotary Club of West El Paso. I never ceased to be amazed at how many small business owners, doctors, lawyers, real estate brokers, bank managers, and school superintendents paid to be in a service club. Rotary’s motto is “Service Above Self.”
I was thrilled to be in a community of people who actually acted on this motto. As a small business owner, I ran my own company so I could decide where to invest my time. I had wanted to be in Rotary for so many years that from a strictly business finance viewpoint, I put too much time into my Rotary activities.
However, from a personal growth perspective, it was a Godsend. In one board of directors meeting in particular, I remember that we were discussing something for the club. I just don’t recall what it was. What is clear, however, is that I thought of something to contribute. At first I hesitated. I figured all of these people with more experience than me at running businesses probably already thought about it and discarded it as not being a good idea.
Finally I got the courage to bring up my suggestion anyway. I was astonished at how excited they were about my idea. The whole board seemed to think it was a good idea.
The other thing that helped my self-esteem as being a business owner was that one day during another board of directors meeting I looked around and realized that these were my peers. I qualified to join. Moreover, they accepted me into their club.
So while being in Rotary was definitely to provide service to my community and to other communities around the world, I personally gained immeasurably from my participation.
My Gratitude for the Friendship and for the Life Lessons
Although my life hasn’t yet synched with joining Rotary again, I have such affection and gratitude for the Rotarians I knew in the Rotary Club of West El Paso and the other Rotary leaders I had the pleasure of knowing and serving with. Being active in Rotary helped me feel like a business owner. That bit of growth in self-esteem was worth any investment of time and money I made. To this day, I love that motto, “Service Above Self.”
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