Our Examples Outlive our Achievements

Our Examples Outlive our Achievements


David Aaker

Contributing Writer

As leaders, we are consistently offered, not given, opportunities to set examples each day. Every time we unlock our front door, or open our computers to start our day, constitutes a fresh start; a do-over; a repeat-as-needed moment in your life. Perhaps take a quiet visit with yourself and ask only one question: “What is one thing I did yesterday that was to the benefit of others?”

It’s not a rose-colored glasses question, but when you give it a moment of thought, keep in mind that the examples that you established yesterday will be remembered far longer than the achievements you have earned to date.

Employee of the year; past Service Club President; getting a hole in one with your golf friends in witness; hitting a small jackpot on a slot machine; winning a ribbon at an art show, etc. These are all great and valued achievements; they carry the pride and value of hard-won accomplishments, and they certainly contributed to an exhilarating feeling of personal victory and success. These are earned victories; no one gave them to you, and even though you cannot predict exactly when the next achievement will be headed your way, know that it will find you.

Examples are not just the lessons we have learned from others, but also the ones we have shared. Examples have no shelf life, no expiration date. Wander in your mind and review the examples given to you by, perhaps, a favorite teacher whom you still remember and admire.

For me, that is my sixth grade teacher, Mr. John Miller. His examples were hands-on with math and science. He did not just teach the subjects; he let each student “experience” math and science. We built a twelve-foot tall kite with prescribed specifications for the width and the length of the tail. Once we had finished it, we all signed our names on it, got a strong nylon rope, and waited for a windy day. We finally got a chance to try it out and, well, fly it did, and every student could take pride in having been part of the planning, building, preparation, speculation, and flight of this large example of science and math.

This scenario is not much different from what we hope to achieve in the non-profit and private sector organizations we are associated with. Examples can be as small as opening a door for someone carrying packages at the post office, and as large as opening an Industrial Park that will provide hundreds of jobs for decades. Examples happen on purpose, and you are the architect of each one. Often, we do not start the process with the mindset of setting an example, but the end result still turns out to be just that.

There is no doubt in my mind that if every one of the 7,200 readers of this quarterly newspaper paused for a few moments, you could all think of an example that has been a part of your success in your organization and your life. I bet you could also reflect back on the last month and identify at least one example that you set that others will benefit from.

If you work with a board of directors, this is a great topic for an open conversation on what examples your organization is setting, and the legacy that they are leaving in the past as you constantly move forward and build your business development center, tourism program, member appreciation program, etc.

Think of “examples” as their own zone, one that is separate from “achievements.” Both have their value, risk, and reward, but only one has an expiration date in the minds of others.

After a successful 20-year career in chamber management, Aaker & Associates was put in full motion in 2004.

A nationally-known speaker, trainer, and author on customer service, David offers his seminars as serious fundraisers for chambers and associations nationwide. He was recently named among “America’s Best Speakers” by Sky Radio and featured on 42,000 flights worldwide in 2009. David is available for keynote and breakout programs for your local, regional and state conferences David can be found at www.davidkaaker.com, and invites your personal call at 760-323-4600.


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