Service is an often “over used” word in the vocabulary of business today. Customer Service, supplier service, service standards and technical service are all terms I encounter daily and each provides a varying degree of accuracy to the real meaning of service.
Service Above Self, was a term I experienced last week when I participated as a speaker at a Rotary International program for youth entitled Camp Enterprise. I was not aware of this program prior to being contacted to speak, and as a business mentor, I was surprised to discover that this program goes on in many Rotary Clubs across North America, and has been hosted for more than a quarter century in some areas.
The program, which is fully funded by the local Rotary Club, provides senior high school students with an introduction to business , professional and management careers over a 3 ½ day “camp”. The kids are exposed to a variety of workshops, activities and team building events put on by volunteers from the business community. It is advertised as a program “that Will Change Your Life” I spoke to a group of 52 enthusiastic teens about directing a Corporation. Not just any incorporated company, the real company that they run each day of their lives, themselves. The title of my workshop was, “It Really Is All About You!”, and I spoke about some of the key factors that affect You Incorporated from the ground level up, from the attitude you present each day, to the growth of an entrepreneurial spirit, to accepting and nurturing a sense of responsibility for every action they take.
I was amazed at the level of participation, the group inter-personal skills, and at the expressions on their faces as some of the points and stories I related hit a chord with their own lives. I think the key point that I was able to provide is to believe in yourself. In a world of doubt and confusion it is often very difficult for adults to consider options and make the right decisions, so I can’t imagine what it must be like for a teenager, with all the temptations of the world, and the lack of experience in cause and effect, to make the same correct decisions. The important thing is to make a decision, learn from the results, and grow from the knowledge gained. I often say, change your perception of failure to a lesson learned.
Rotary has it right! Service Above Self is the real definition of providing an experience, not just for yourself and the participants of the Camp, but for the volunteers who make it work and the community in which these teens are part of. If the wonderful group of teens that I had the pleasure of working with are any indication, the business world has a bright future. I commend Rotary International for this initiative, but just as important, I commend the teens who stepped up to the challenge to “change their life”. It’s never business as usual!