Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can corrupt and change me.
Nazi Germany’s most powerful tools of propaganda were not Adolf Hitler’s fiery speeches or the party’s myriad publications, but instead simple, often-repeated words on the lips of the populace.
Instead (it) permeated the flesh and blood of the people through single words, idioms, and sentence structures which were imposed on them in a million repetitions and taken on board mechanically and unconsciously…
What are the sounds of your organization? Does the language of your organization lift up its members (all of them), or does it keep some “in their place”? Will you think differently down the road?
Last week, you accepted the challenge. You committed to action. You committed to your personal and fraternal values. You committed to the hero’s journey.
This week is the first of a six part series that will assist you in developing the necessary skills to be a hero. Zeno Franco and Philip Zimbardo identified the key arts necessary to nurture “Heroes-in-Waiting”. They are: Question, Courage, Strength, Speed, Sacrifice, and Team. Today, we focus on the ability to Question.
Each and every day, we are confronted with reality. One reality. Our reality. The truth is, our perception is our reality, and others’ perception is their reality. As people continue to live longer and experience more and more, their perceptions change. What was once meaningful in one way may become significant in another way, or insignificant altogether.
In a way, our lives, our personal histories, are a work in progress, and we reassess what is most memorable or important in them repeatedly as we grow older.
How can we create in our members and in our organizations the ability to see things that don’t fit, to see things that are out of place, and to be aware of things that don’t make sense in their setting?
We teach them to question. (See the call to action that follows!) In the Matrix (1999), Morpheus guides Neo in his heroic journey. The challenge that Neo had to overcome was his own, narrowly defined reality. Morpheus helped Neo discover a more meaningful, more objective reality.
You have to be a detective, a skeptical questioner. You need an open, fair mind, but one that is not easily convinced. You need to use evidence honestly and effectively, and to pay attention to all the evidence, not just pick out what you want and ignore what contradicts your thinking. Last but not least, you have to think about the values, beliefs, and ideas popular now and question how they might strengthen or distort how you look at the past.
Today, it may seem important for the newest members of our organizations to know their place, to be seen but not heard, and to sit down and shut up. They’re torn down, to be built back up. But how does that serve the mission and purpose of our organizations? How does that help them be leaders in a changing world, and continue the legacies of our founders?
When those members grow older and have more experiences, will they look back at their fraternity and sorority experiences only for friendships, or simply fun and games? Or will they look back on those experiences as the training grounds where they learned to lead, when they learned to speak out, and where they learned to stand up for their values?
It is up to you to determine your personal and organizational legacy.
CALL TO ACTION: Sit down with a copy of your fraternity’s/sorority’s/organization’s creed, mission statement, or statement of values. Circle, highlight, write down every word that identifies a key value of your organization. Now, write those words in your own words. Then, write down 2-3 behaviors for each that you have observed that support those values. Lastly, write down 2-3 behaviors for each that take away from or contradict those values. You also could do this activity with your organization’s creed, mission statement, etc. and a copy of your chapter’s budget, calendar, etc. Compare the two, and discern what the true values are.