Thursday, March 17, 2016

Making Courage Your Legacy

Sandra Ford Walston
The Courage Expert
Sandra Ford Walston, The Courage Expert  writes, "What's your definition of courage and why is it vital to claim it for yourself? Are you curious about why only 11% of over 750 women researched perceived themselves as courageous? Are you in this group?"

Walston contacted several women and asked them to share how they made courage their daily legacy. I shared the following with her.
 “Making Courage Your Daily Legacy” - Dr. Beverly Helms

It is difficult for me to put into words how I make courage my daily legacy. Courage is something that was instilled in me at a young age by my mother and even though I am a strong introvert, the use of courage, on a daily basis, has become something at which I think I am unconsciously competent. It is such a part of my repertoire that I don’t really think about it. I guess it has become second nature and is so embedded in my being that when asked to describe the process of making it my daily legacy, I am challenged.
 Below are a few of the things I believe have contributed to my daily courage.
  • I recognize that you can’t please all the people all the time and in fact, you can’t please half the people half the time, so I don’t try. That doesn’t mean I don’t care what they think or that I am insensitive. I simply don’t use others as the measure for my being.
  • In spite of my perfectionistic personality, I finally have come to accept there are no perfect people and I am kinder and more accepting of myself than ever before.
  • I try not to break my toothpick on a marshmallow. Making a mountain out of a molehill was once a serious problem for me. I finally realized that a few hours and certainly a few days took care of most problems. I am still working on this. 
  • I believe in being candid, and saying what I think even though I recognize a greater need to speak the truth more lovingly. At the same time, I preface most opinions by asking the person if they really want to know what I think about something or if they prefer that I tell them what I think they want to hear. While we don't want to believe it, most are not very receptive to an opinion different from their own.
  • Because I want to be a pioneer of the future rather than a prisoner of the past as Chopra suggested, I let what happened yesterday stay there. That is not to say I don’t use learnings from the past to make me better, but I don’t dwell on my mistakes. I try to make peace with my past, and forgive myself, which has been and still is, more difficult for me than it should be.
  • I take risks, which for a strong introvert, can be very intimidating. I always ask myself what is the worst thing that could happen if I fail. And in the last several years, I have done things I never imagined possible simply because I tried something new or different.
  • I have learned to say “no” more often so that I can better enjoy the things I have said “yes” to.
  • I try to live each day intentionally, not responding or reacting as much as making conscious choices. 
  • I try to avoid pessimistic people, spend time when possible serving as a telephone encourager, and recognize that the only investment that lasts is that made in people.

Monday, February 29, 2016

DKG leader advances

We are excited when good things happen to our friends. When that friend is a member of DKG we are extremely happy. Dr. Lace Marie Brogden, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, has recently received a promotion to Dean of Education at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. Congratulations to Lace from her 2004 Golden Gift Leadership Management Class.

"Laurentian University is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Lace Marie Brogden as the university’s Founding Dean of the Faculty of Education. Dr. Brogden’s appointment will be for a five-year renewable term, beginning July 1, 2016.

As Dean, Dr. Brogden will have responsibility for leading the two schools within the Faculty, the English-language School of Education and the French-language École des sciences de l’éducation. The Faculty currently includes more than 60 full- and part-time faculty, and a total of 780 students.

A respected academic and experienced administrator, Dr. Brogden has been Director of the Baccalaureate Program at the University of Regina’s Faculty of Education since 2010. Before joining the Faculty of Education, Dr. Brogden worked as Evaluation Coordinator in the Official Minority Language Office of Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Education. She also spent five years as a French Immersion teacher in Regina’s public school system. Dr. Brogden received a PhD from the University of Regina in 2007, and a Master of Arts in Education from San Diego State University in 1996. She completed her undergraduate degree, Baccalaureat en éducation élémentaire française, at the University of Regina in 1989.

"Through the new Faculty of Education, we aim to promote high-quality research, teaching and learning, while attracting outstanding students and faculty," said President and Vice-Chancellor Dominic Giroux. "We are delighted to welcome Dr. Brogden to this important new role at Laurentian and we look forward to the flourishing of these schools under her leadership."

"I am thrilled by the opportunity to work with both Schools in the Faculty of Education, which together serve such an important role in Northern Ontario," said Dr. Brogden. "It is a unique opportunity to work in French and in English, in both concurrent and consecutive B. Ed. programs, and I am excited by the prospects ahead."



Saturday, February 13, 2016

Inclusive Leadership

      Are you surprised at the response to your blogs? When mine are read I am pleased. The icing on the cake is receiving comments and even suggestions. For several months I have reflected on the feedback from an old blog that stressed the need to engage new, younger members and at the same time re-engage long term members, including former chapter, state organization and even international leaders. 

     Several past state organization leaders and others who have served at the international level on committees, boards, etc. have shared concerns about their perception of member disengagement. Several expressed a feeling of  being dis-enfranchised once their own “leadership term” was over. 

     All organizations must engage new and inexperienced members in each biennium. Succession planning dictates that for DKG at the chapter, state and international levels. And, members who have paid dues for many years, served in various roles of leadership at all levels must recognize that with each biennium, changes in leadership and leadership styles occur.  

     It is understandable that new leaders want to do their own thing, make their mark, and demonstrate their leadership skills and many may still be using the antiquated  command and control style of leadership. Shirley Engelmeier, in one of her blogs in 2013, posted that "We are decades past that type leadership, where one, or even a few, are in command and control what is done." 

     Because of the changes in technology, the type of leadership now required must be more inclusive, broad based, horizontal and members must literally be allowed to engage and lead from any chair. In DKG we say every member is a leader but do we utilize the skills of all members? Equally important, communications must be honest, timely, and frequent, without the feeling of bureaucracy that so often plagues organization. Otherwise, those holding membership in our organization, both short and long term, will continue to opt out.

   With the advent of Email, Facebook, Twitter, and Blogs, we should not have to wait for information, announcements, changes, etc. Instant connectivity 24/7 is available and expected of an inclusive leader. DKG has long promoted increasing the use of technology and even though there is still a digital divide, it is shrinking and most members support the increased and instant connectivity technology affords.  

     In order to be truly inclusive, organizations also need to know what their members are thinking and the best way to find out is to ask them. Members are the ones who can tell leaders how best to partner with them, treat them, and help them. The Dropped Member Survey that is used to follow up on members who leave DKG is revealing some painful and uncomfortable responses, such as "I didn't belong to the clique," "I was never asked to do anything," and probably the most revealing, "I was initiated in the spring, but never received information about the fall meeting so I didn't attend and was informed that I was dropped for non- payment of dues."

    In July of 2015, DKG state organizations changed leaders. As we are preparing the process to make changes in our leaders at the chapter and international levels, should we ask ourselves how inclusive they might be? What is their motivation for the leadership position? Will they allow members to lead from any chair? Will they involve those who disagree with them?  Can they really see things from others' perspective or do they hear without listening? Are they self-serving or will they seek to serve the needs and interests of members? 

     Most organizations need inclusive leaders and should capitalize on the skills and talents of all members. DKG is no different. The 2016 International Convention in Nashville will afford more choices in several international leadership positions. If you aren’t able to attend make sure your thoughts are included in the thinking of your state organization president as she represents and votes for our future leaders whom we hope will represent the best in inclusivity.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Turning Obstacles into Opportunities

     I often use the expression, Smooth sailing never a skillful mariner makes.  Recently I experienced it when told, “No, we can’t do that for you anymore.” While I believe the benefits of doing it far outweighed the concerns, I had no choice but to accept the answer. However, that obstacle, while briefly painful, became a refreshing, motivating and energizing opportunity for me.  I had to consider alternatives, look for a different way of getting the information, and it forced me to consider whether even doing it was worthwhile.  
     In retrospect, I did what I probably should have done before being told "no." I developed a little creativity and then within ten minutes directly connected with women educators in Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia and Kansas. I apologized for needing to confirm their DKG membership as I do not personally know all 77,000 members. But, in those connections I met new friends; was affirmed by each one in a different way; and increased the number of members in the DKG International Facebook group composed of 800 + members who want  an opportunity to exchange ideas and make connections. I didn't start this group but felt a responsibility to help facilitate their desired connectivity.

     This Facebook group, as opposed to the official DKG Facebook Page, is composed of DKG members, many of whom love to connect and share with each other, post information about their chapters, state organizations (in some cases their personal honors), and even share their plans to attend regional and international meetings including most recently, the 2016 international convention in Nashville.  Several of those I contacted had never participated beyond the chapter level, but expressed pride in their DKG membership.
     If you are wondering where I am going with this, let me tell you.  It is simply to challenge you, and especially members of DKG, to pursue your dreams, overcome your setbacks, don’t break your toothpick on a marshmallow and refrain from blaming others for your circumstances.  We all face obstacles, some of our own making and others imposed by others, but it is how we respond to them that matters. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy and don’t believe that an obstacle may present an opportunity for professional and personal growth. That is our choice.

     Order often comes from chaos.  Obstacles and disappointments can be blessings in disguise. Out of discord seeds can be sown that bring forth new life. Consonance can emerge from dissonance and obstacles can promote creativity, reflection, personal meditation, a review of purpose and yes, even personal strength and ingenuity we did not realize we had.
     If you were not selected for something you really wanted, didn’t receive the recognition you thought you deserved, weren’t as effective as you wanted to be, frustrated by your return on your investment of time and energy,  don’t give up. Timing is critical and when one door closes a better one may open, if not immediately, perhaps later.  Persistence is an important key to success and maybe one more effort, attempt, or invitation to membership will yield the desired result.  

     Most women educators who belong to DKG understand the obstacles we face as an organization including membership, leadership, communication, and participation. Some may be conflicted by the desire to honor our past, celebrate our present and also remain relevant to attract future generations. We can do all three! As members of our organization we hold within us an amazing power to become even greater than we have ever been! Make a commitment right now that when you face your next obstacle, and you will, you do everything within your power to change it into one of your best opportunities.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

DKG Members Serve Others!

Edison, my seven year old "adopted hijo"
 with his mom in Panajachel, Guatemala.
I was priviledged to be asked by Dr. Ann Lumsden, a former DKG state organization president from Florida, to join her team from Trinity United Methodist Church in Tallahassee on their annual mission trip to Panajachel, Guatemala. Seven years ago, and as a result of my background in speech pathology, I quasi-adopted a sweet newborn who had a cleft lip and palate. Edison Fernando de Lucas was his name.

During the week of October 17-24, 2015, I met Edison and his parents in Panajachel for the first time. It was the highlight of the week for me; perhaps even one of the greatest moments of my life. I can't find the words to share how seeing him for the first time affected me. Following the shedding of many tears, we continued to communicate via Lindsey Newberry, who is the Field Coordinator and responsible for coordinating the Beca (scholarship) program for students sponsored by Porch de Salomon in Panajachel.

Edison has been attending a school in which he was bullied and that did not provide the services he needed. I am honored to be able to provide a scholarship for Edison so that he can attend a better school. I will always be grateful that both his mom and dad brought him to Panajachel to meet me and to make arrangements for his schooling for next year which begins in January 2016.

I am but one of the nearly 80,000 DKG members who are making a difference in their community, school/institution, state, and yes, around the world!

To see the most recent copy of the Porch Newsletter, go to

Thursday, July 16, 2015

2015 International Achievement Award

Carolyn Pittman, Arkansas
     The international achievement award is presented annually to an outstanding and distinguished member of The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International. The selection is made by the voting members of the international executive board, composed of the state organization presidents, members of the administrative board and past international presidents.

     The 2015 achievement award was presented on July 16, at the luncheon during the Southeast Regional Conference in Savannah, Georgia. It was presented to Carolyn Pittman of Arkansas. Pittman's credentials demonstrate a life of dedicated service to DKG. Currently the chair of the International Educator Award Committee, she has served the Society at the international level as Southeast Regional Director, Member at Large, First Vice President and chair of several international committees. At the state organization level, Pittman has served as state organization president, editor, executive secretary, and continues to serve in various roles.

     Pittman is well known as an outstanding editor, and has presented numerous Newsletter Camps to assist others interested in enhancing their skills in journalism and editing. She is a mentor, encourager and role model for all.

     Personally, I believe Carolyn is one of the most authentic and talented members I know in DKG! Congratulations, Carolyn. You are most deserving.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Participation Transforms Members!

Below is the blog I posted on July 17, 2014. Dr. Gwen Simmons, North Carolina, now serving as the international parliamentarian, responded to a question I asked during my tenure as international president  regarding  the one thing that would maintain the viability of DKG. Although 300 individuals viewed the blog, I think it bears repeating.

Simmons wrote, "The answer to your request is more complex than one thing but given all the movement in a positive direction in the last three or four biennia, I think a key one is a focus on the expectation of participation by active members in the activities of the Society: Constitution, Article III Membership. Section B.1: … “An active member shall participate in the activities of the Society.”

During the revision of the Constitution in 2009-10, proposals to strike that expectation from the Constitution were considered— I was adamant in my opposition because I believe that is the key aspect of DKG structure, i.e., participation transforms the member, and provides opportunities to transform the organization.  

Active participation requires a member to think for herself (in situations filled with a diversity of perspectives) and she ultimately realizes that she is leader of sorts and has something to offer the organization (which provided her the opportunity to participate in something she was NOT prepared to do until she finished the 'task'.)"

When we actively participate in DKG, we are transformed, indeed! How can we encourage those who are not actively participating in DKG to join us in that transformation?  Share your ideas as a comment or send me an email.