Thursday, May 16, 2013

Taking An Oath

One week ago I was wrapping up the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute (UIFI) for Purdue University. There were many "a-ha" moments for me during the week - many in individual conversations, lots in the small group discussions, some in the large group presentations I was leading, and several overheard whispers. One that particularly stood out to me came over Twitter...

"No one takes an oath to be average.",    chapter 8. #uifi2013

We are organizations that invite us to membership with a pledge to be better, to be more. As I consider all that our community has experienced this semester, three things come to mind.

We want to be great. Truly. I do believe that people show up wanting to be their very best. I don't think that too many people plan their lives thinking - "I'll just phone it in today." We want to be all of the things that we raise our hand during initiation and promise to be: honorable; loving; just; learners; diligent; noble; loyal; inclusive.

We sometimes forget to follow our plans. Congruence is our biggest challenge. We make these promises and we forget. We forget that we choose to be better. When we hear that "Greeks are sending people to the hospital for alcohol poisoning.", we respond with, "Everyone does that." We should be responding with an affirmation that we promised to be better than average. Our oath, our promise, calls us to be that all of the time. When we fall short, we remind ourself and each other that we have a plan. We have a mission. We have values. We can't forget them. We can't pull them out when they are convenient for us. I remember standing in the dining room of the Theta house during initiation and hearing the President explain what our coat of arms stood for - each part meaning something really important to the experience of being a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. I also remember forgetting to follow those words as I chose to not study enough for a class, as I judged others, as I didn't hold myself in the highest regard.

Being above average means being it all of the time. Consistency is the key to being more than average. Some days, I don't feel like being great. There have been some things over the past month that have given me pause. Those moments where you wonder, "Why am I caring so much when there is a loud voice that isn't?" As leaders, you will have resistance. You will have moments of joy and pain. You will have temptation to not be consistent. Holding to who you are and what your organization stands for matters - all of the time. Consistency brings us to authentic greatness. When it is easy, and when it is difficult.

As we wrap up finals this week, I wish you all well. Summer is often a busy time of work, internships, vacation, classes. I hope that it also finds you with a few moments of reflection. The opportunity to think about your oath, the greatness you have been called to, and the ways that you live it out. "No one takes an oath to be average."


No comments:

Post a Comment