President Hannah's June Message
My final month as President is here and in reflecting on the last year, I’ve learned some big lessons thanks to having this opportunity to lead our club for the 21-22 Rotary year. Below are four things I learned:
Members do more when they’re inspired, not instructed
If you tell people what to do, they may do what you ask, but you may not be getting their best. I found that many of our most engaged members and board members already had their own ideas related to Rotary service and socials that they were excited about. Often, things I never would have thought of on my own. I didn’t need to tell them what to do, I just needed to provide support and encouragement along the way. We had diverse projects and events, updated communications, and even a fall fundraiser because of motivated members.
The strength of the president is in the board
Choosing great board members makes the year as president so much easier. We had a lot of major decisions to make this year with hybrid meetings, changes in cost, and lingering unknowns due to the pandemic. The Sunrise Club Board continued to maintain a can-do attitude about moving forward and staying active in service regardless of these challenges. I knew I could rely on everyone to uphold their duties, which allowed me to focus on leading the club. 
Feedback is most helpful when it’s specific
I am grateful for the strong support from fellow Rotarians throughout the year. It was always nice to hear when people thought I was doing a great job or held a nice meeting. I found the most valuable feedback went deeper into why they were prompted to give a compliment. Often criticism is targeted and specific and praise can be more vague, causing me to have an unintended focus on what’s wrong instead of what’s right. Leaders benefit greatly from hearing specifically why you like what they are doing - and they’ll keep doing more of it if you let them know.
All the small things matter
Rotarians are known for accomplishing some amazing things - nearly eradicating polio, providing clean water to people that previously didn’t have any, and building peace worldwide. However, it’s also the simple things that Rotarians do that make a difference in our clubs and communities. Sending an email when a fellow member is grieving a lost loved one, doing a simple act of service, reaching out to check in on another member, and showing up to meetings regularly. These small things make people feel seen and they add up to something much greater over time. Being a Rotarian is a way of life and that is most often displayed in small acts.
I’m honored to have had the privilege of leading Santa Barbara Sunrise over the last year. The lessons and friendships I’ve gained during this time will continue to move me forward in a positive way, even when I’ve lost the status of President. I am forever grateful to Rotary for the life lessons learned this year.