Over Halfway There – Still Be A Leader
Prior to attending the NC IOR Great Council Meeting in May 2015, I thought about items I hoped to implement that would be new to the North Carolina Red Men if elected Great Sachem. I had ideas on how to instill a breath of fresh air to the organization: creating a mechanism that made everyone in our organization feel important, promoting that change could be a great thing and not something to fear, starting a quarterly newsletter mailing, establishing social media and a website for our organization, and lighting a fire under each tribe resulting in them understanding the important role they play in their community. Still, my biggest goals were to leave our organization in better shape financially, have growth in membership, and take our organization down a path for success.
One of the items that didn’t come to fruition is a quarterly mailed newsletter. With the cost associated of mailing and printing, which would be a cost I would bare, I decided it would be best to add a page on the website “Messages from the Great Sachem.” I hate that some members are not internet savvy and unable to read the messages, but it was my best option. Let’s hope that the 2016 – 2017 budget will include a line item for those members if the new Great Sachem desires to implement such a program.
I had a tough time deciding what to discuss with this message. I’ve published two messages so far this year entitled “A Good Member” and “It’s Time.” They both received the mixed reviews I had expected, but as I’ve always said, “Everything is okay if we don’t agree; we can still be friends and talk to each other.” Some of the comments received were “I hope that hit home to someone,” “Thanks for the kind words,” “Why did you tell that lie?” and one of my favorites: “Well, at least you’re trying.” Rest assured each message came from the heart and has been something in which I truly believed.
Then I thought about the many organizations of which I’ve been a part and how times fly when you are trying to achieve a goal. See, I’ve been Vice President of the North Carolina Jaycees when there were 210 chapters. My goal was to see all of them, but I fell short by 8 chapters. Now those 8 were prison chapters, but still it was my goal to visit all of them. I’ve served on the Winterville, NC Town Council. I’d hoped to see a building completed and electrical rates reduced before my term ended, but those came to fruition after I decided to leave politics. I was Chairman of the Winterville Watermelon Festival for 30 years and wished the Town of Winterville would purchase land for the festival, but still today the festival uses a cramped park.
By not reaching some of the goals I wondered did it mean I wasn’t a good leader. Was it something I could have done differently or was it how quickly times does fly when you are trying to reach your goals? I then turned to the internet to read about characteristics of a good leader to see if there was a way to judge myself. I came across a page titled “Quotes on Leadership” and it helped me realize that even though goals are not sometime reached, if a new path is created for someone else to follow, you can still consider it a success. I’ve listed some of my favorites below and hope that they may cause you to realize we are “Over Halfway There” and to concentrate on finishing as a leader of your tribe. Your goal may not be reached, but by starting a path for continued success you are still a leader.
Yours in Freedom, Friendship and Charity
Tim Avery, Great Sachem
Do not follow where the path may lead.
Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Harold R. McAlindon
Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
John Quincy Adams
The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men, the conviction and the will to carry on.
Do what you feel in your heart to be right–for you’ll be criticized anyway.
A Good Member
Recently, I was going through information presented to me by US Great Senior Sagamore Anthony Gromelski upon my induction as Great Sachem of North Carolina. I came upon a page that was titled,“What Makes A Good Member?”
It starts by saying A Good Member should be loyal. They should know the Constitution, By-Laws, rituals,and procedures.
A Good Member should promote the Order by showing pride in their membership, knowing the history of the Order and willingly sharing its value.
A Good Member should respect other members and their chieftaincies while keeping in mind the Order belongs to ALL MEMBERS.
Finally, A Good Member should forgive and forget, remembering nothing cuts more at the lining of the souls than holding a grudge.
As I read these, I wondered why the author put these in this order. Was it by coincidence, or was there a significant meaning of the order?
Often in my office a topic of discussion is religious rituals and doctrines. I have family and friends who represent several denominations such as Catholic, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and Free Will Baptist. Other friends identify themselves as non-denominational. I myself was raised Free Will Baptist, and upon marriage our family changed to Baptists. We discuss the rituals of dipping your hand in water upon entering the sanctuary, having communion every week, standing, kneeling, reading of the scripture, lighting of candles, and so forth. As mentioned, I was raised Free Will Baptist, so you know there is always discussion of washing each other’s feet.
Eventually the discussions end with everyone agreeing we can’t say whose rituals are right and wrong. But we do realize they all play an important part in each religious belief. But are they the most important factor in deciding if you get into heaven? In my opinion, and please know my opinion only, they are not. That deciding factor is living a good Christian life and believing in the Lord. End of sermon.
I’ve also shared my feelings in the same way about our organization. No doubt each of the four items listed above referencing “A Good Member” are an integral part in making our organization successful, but are these the sole items that will determine if a person is “A Good Member”? Again, in my opinion, some of these listings are not the most important factors, and I would have prepared the list in a different order.
Think about this situation that I’ve seen occur in several organizations – including Red Men. You’re at a meeting, and you share your opinion on an item of business. Immediately your opinion is countered by a member who knows every word of the rituals and remembers every page of the Constitution and By-Laws – that member who only cares about the way it used to be done and considers their way as the only correct way. At this point, you are left feeling disrespected. Often it escalates, and because of your difference of opinion, a grudge is formed. What are the consequences of this? Boom, you start thinking about the importance of your membership, and sadly, you may likely never return.
So what do I feel are the two most important factors in “A Good Member?” First and foremost, understanding that the Order doesn’t belong to a few but to ALL MEMBERS and each member’s opinion should be respected. There are no worse feelings than that of believing you don’t belong or are not an important component of the process.
Secondly, we must realize we are never going to agree on everything, and that’s okay. That’s part of life and the democratic way. Most importantly, when we don’t agree, we can leave at the end of the day not holding a grudge or feeling as if we should take our toys and go play somewhere else, so to speak. It’s like marriage. You and your significant other aren’t going to agree on everything, but you still have love and respect for each other.
I want to leave you with what I feel are two examples of “A Good Member.”
Kenneth Beachum, our 2015 Red Man of the Year, and Terry Weeks, our 2015 Living Hall of Fame Award Recipient. Kenneth Beachum will argue with you until he can hardly breathe – knowing the whole time he is wrong. He will also do anything you ask if it helps the Order. I can’t count the times I’ve called and said, “Kenneth, do this for me,” “Ride with me,” or “Can you get this for me?” This past year I was fortunate enough to be nominated for the 2015 Red Man of the Year Award along with Kenneth. Guess who nominated me? Kenneth Beachum. At the District Meeting I told those attending how much I appreciated it and what an honor it was to be nominated, but I knew that Kenneth Beachum was a better Red Man than I was and deserved to be recognized. If I was going to lose to anyone, I would want it to be Kenneth Beachum, and I was so happy to hear his name announced at the Great Council.
Terry Weeks falls into that same category: always willing to help, always tries to do the best for the Order, and is the first one thanking you for visiting with a “we’re happy to have you here, and you’re always welcome.” I’ve attended two meetings and a fundraiser in Elizabeth City since May. I always call Terry before I go to make sure it is okay, and he answers, “Tim, you’re always welcome.” Terry is consistently at the meeting serving as he is Chief of Records. At the fundraiser Terry served as the auctioneer reminding everyone, “The proceeds are for the kids; please dig deep.” When it’s over, Terry is right there with a handshake and pat on the back saying, “Thanks so much for coming. We really appreciate it, and thanks for helping the kids.” This past week I saw a picture of Terry out Christmas shopping with one of the less fortunate families.
Finally, over the past six months, I’ve had to opportunity to visit every Tribe (which is currently meeting) at least twice. Not a one of the tribes conduct the signs the same, and I’ve seen no tribe carry out everything 100% according to the By-Laws. But you know we are all still great Tribes and are still making a positive impact on our communities. Isn’t that what we should be doing – leaving our community in better shape today than yesterday? How do we do that? By being “A Good Member.” I promise the other stuff will come.
Yours in Freedom, Friendship and Charity
Tim Avery, Great Sachem
If you would, take a minute and think about the instances in your life you’ve heard or used the phrase “it’s time.”
When you were young your parents likely said, “It’s time to go to bed,” “It’s time to clean your room,” and the one I knew meant trouble, “It’s time to get in this house now.” As you got older maybe the phrase was used in your family when your spouse told you, “It’s time to go to the hospital and have this baby.” I’ll admit that I’ve sat in church and thought, “It’s time for the preacher to be quiet because I wanted to get into that restaurant before the crowd.” One of the hardest situations I faced with this phrase was when my dad told me a couple of weeks before he passed away, “I’ll be okay but you’ve got to accept, like I have, it’s time for me to go home and be with the Lord.” Some of you are thinking “it’s time” for me to get to the point.
As you may or may not know, I’m from a small tribe: Mohican Tribe #56 in Winterville, NC. I joined the Red Men 9 years ago because I was asked to consider looking after their building. At that time I think 90% of our members were 50 Year Members, and I was the youngest at age 44. My home tribe continued to get older and our membership began to decline due to death of our members.
As my involvement grew, I attend my first Great Council Session, and before long I was elected the Great Junior Sagamore. Less than a year ago, for some reason, I pulled out an older copy of a Great Council of NC Proceedings Book. As I was looking through the pages, I stopped at a letter written by PGP Charlene Pippin. Charlene was thanking the council for all their dedication and hard work. Then the conversation turned to the decline in membership. In discussing the decline, she used a quote from her husband Robert, PGS, that went something like this, “If you never ask, the answer is always no.”
For some reason that statement caused me to start looking at myself. It finally hit me: “It’s time.” Time for me to ask some of my friends to attend a meeting with a promise of no pressure, no obligations, and a great meal. Before I knew it, I had 10 guest attending a meeting. As they left that night, I let them know how much I appreciated their attendance and hoped they would come back to eat with us again, but never did I ask them to join. Another meeting came around, and I decided to call these guys again asking them to come eat dinner with a promise of no pressure, no obligations, and a great meal. You’d never believe it, but all 10 came again. We ate our dinner, had our meeting, and after the meeting I decided “it’s time.” Time for me to just ask, hoping that I wouldn’t get rejected. Out of the ten guests, six joined our tribe, two promised, and one wife told her husband, “You need to join just so I don’t have to cook supper that night.”
So what does all this mean? I think is says to all of us, “It’s time.” Time for us to step back and think, “Have we really done all we can to help our organization?” Time for us to invite a friend to a meeting with a promise of no pressure, no obligations and a good meal. If we never think “it’s time,” and we don’t ask, then the answer is always no. I hope we all will realize “it’s time.”
Freedom, Friendship and Charity
Tim Avery, Great Sachem