The York Rite Leadership Training Program is free of charge to the participant. The York Rite provides all training materials and the Instructors. Transportation, lodging, meals, and conference registration are the responsibility of the participant. You do not have to be a member of the York Rite to participate.
Contact S. Lane Pierce, Program Administrator, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Making Good Men Better
An open letter to the fraternity by S. Lane Pierce.
There is a secret in our fraternity. It is something we continue to shout to the public yet many of us have not even considered the words we are saying. How do we make good men better?
Consider this… if you could attract the right men into your Blue Lodge, you would have full tables at dinner. Your lodge meetings would include engaged civil discussion that excites the mind and body to the building of a legacy for you, your lodge, your state, and your country. You would have a positive recognition when walking about in your community. You would experience personal growth and improvement just because of your association, and enlightened dialog, with other great thinkers in your Lodge.
Because these men are the kind of men that are seeking to become more than what they are, they will move on to join the Chapter to finish the Masonic Journey they have begun. They will, in due time, want to understand the origination and preservation of Freemasonry through the Cryptic Degrees. Those who are men of Christ must then step into the path that He walked for us and learn how their christen nature manifests the goodness of life for all those who seek to learn and exhibit His teachings.
My Brother, that secret is in how we make good men better.
Freemasonry is so much more that what has ever been written of it. Freemasonry is not a thing that can be described. Much like the Great Architect of the Universe, Freemasonry is an experience. It is an experience to be sought. It is an experience to be continually had day to day.
A principle aspect of that experience is in leadership and leadership is the answer to the question; "how do we make good men better".
A leader is one who has the ability to create. They do so through their own self-control and dedication to an ideal outcome, and they have the determination and hardiness to see all circumstances through to achievement. Leaders capture the hearts and minds of others and inspire them into action for the benefit of the greater good. Leaders are content to set their ego aside and follow another leader when it benefits the outcome; and leaders will step boldly to the front to provide direction and action when needed.
Freemasonry is the perfect crucible for a man to improve himself and become the leader for good that he is meant to be. Freemasonry creates opportunities for a man to be humble, be in service to his fellow man, and to be a leader. I suggest to you that Freemasonry has been perfectly structured for you to learn to be a leader. From the moment you asked to be admitted to the mysteries of the craft, you have been setup with opportunities to learn and hone your skills as a leader. The question now is, what are you going to do?
Brother, would you agree with me that there is not a single problem in our fraternity that cannot be solved with effective leadership?
I want to let you in on another of our not-so-secret secrets. Your York Rite has created and made available to you a well-structured, executive-class leadership training program. This program is not meant to replace your training in how to run a meeting according to the laws of our respective bodies. It is an overlay that gives you the necessary information to become an effective administrator of your organization while executing on the business at hand.
The York Rite Leadership Program (YRLP) started with one class created and taught by SK John Palmer, PGM-TN and has since grown to 3 classes taught by 6 different instructors at each of the 8 Department Conference held across the United States. The YRLP has been in existence for 10 years now and has graduated about 400 people from the program. These graduates are charged with going back into their several organizations to lead and share with others what they have learned.
The first-year students learn about their own leadership style and skills, and how to improve upon them. The second-year student is exposed to how group dynamics work and how to set the vision for the organization that motivate groups into action. The third-year student learns influential and motivational communication skills so they can put their leadership plans into action.
This program is open to all members of the York Rite family, including the ladies, DeMolay and Rainbow.
Leadership Notes - Purpose
Organizations that know who they are, and have a defined mission and vision, perform better than those that don't. It is not enough to just do 'stuff'. What is done must be done for a purpose with each person understanding how they contribute.
By now you have seen the announcement from SK Jeff Nelson, our Grand Master, that the Grand Encampment has published a Mission and Vision. Your elected officers spent weeks preparing for a very intensive two-day workshop to define and hone the mission and vision of the Grand Encampment. More importantly, you need to know that the mission of the Grand Encampment is their covenant to you and to the world. It defines the lighthouse which guides the decisions and activities the Grand Encampment undertakes now, and perhaps for the next 100+ years.
The Grand Encampment's Mission is, "Providing every Christian Freemason the opportunity to extend his Masonic journey through the chivalric experience."
While it may seem an obvious statement of what the Grand Encampment should do, this mission is well-crafted to provide guidance for generations on what the Grand Encampment must do.
Thinking about your Commandery now… Does your Commandery know who they are? Do they know their purpose? Is there a vision of achievement that your leaders are pursuing? If you cannot answer in the affirmative for each of these questions, now is the time to gather the officers and come to a consensus. Your Commandery needs to know who they are and where they are going. This creates purpose, and from that you will create activities that fulfill the purpose.
To get started on defining the mission-purpose of your Commandery, let's presuppose we all start from the same root… a social identity if you will. We are all Freemasons and, as Knights Templar, I think we have something special we can start with. Borrowing from John Palmer's original Leadership 101 class… to be a Knight Templar is to be a Gentleman. You, Sir Knight, are expected to uphold yourself as a gentleman and to act gentlemanly in all your deeds. Civil discourse, fairness, and critical thinking are all hallmarks of a Knight Templar. This will be the first steppingstone in creating your Commandery's purpose.
If you want to join the York Rite Leadership Training Program or would like more information on how to create a Mission and Vision statement for your organization, send an email to YRL@YorkRiteLeadership.org.
Leadership Notes - Focus
Last month we talked about the importance of having a purpose for your Commandery. When the purpose is clearly defined and it is desirable by the members, it creates activity. The result is a more active Commandery. Not just more active meetings but more activity in general and this must lead to greater interest, additional members, and satisfaction among the Sir Knights.
This month let's talk about one of the greatest challenges to the Freemason with respect to Masonic activities - Focus.
Masonry is such a vast entity that it can draw a man in many different directions simultaneously. Because being of service is a priority for many, it is a typical characteristic of a Mason to stretch his cable tow a bit thin. One of the characteristics of a great leader is to have a clear understanding as to the length of his own cable tow and to be willing to say "no" or "not now" when the situation dictates.
You have 86,400 seconds available to you each day and your body has a certain amount of energy you can devote to tasks. In order to achieve something, you must spend your time and energy. If you diffuse your energy across time, you may get a small amount accomplished in many different areas or, if you concentrate your energy into one or two areas for the same time span, you can accomplish more.
Think of a 100-watt light bulb. In a large dark room, that bulb will cast small amounts of light all over the room so no one area of the room is lit very well. If you were to concentrate that light into a laser beam and focus it into any part of the room, you would be putting maximum energy into just one spot in the room and it will be quite well lit! Life works much the same way.
Decide how much focus you need to apply to the accomplishment of your mission as a Freemason and be willing to check your own cable tow to see if you have the time and energy to take on a new task or, perhaps you should tighten the focus a bit.
Leadership Notes - Focus
Interest Leads to Inspiration
When was the last time you were inspired to undertake a mission or project in your Lodge, Chapter, Council, or Commandery?
Can you remember a specific time?
What was it that inspired you to step up and take action?
What was it that you wanted to experience because of the work you were going to undertake?
As you think about it, you will find that you were inspired to do what you did because it met some interest or desire inside of you. Perhaps it was to gain the recognition and appreciation of your brethren. Perhaps it was the self-satisfaction of seeing your work improve the building you love. Maybe it was because you wanted the community to see how Masons create harmony in society.
We do what we do because there is something to gain from it.
A great leader does not dictate how an organization will run. It is a fruitless effort to tell your brother to "do this" or "do that," because people need an understanding and frame-of-reference for how and when they apply their energy. A great leader will allow the unfolding of good Masonic activity because it is aligned with the intention or desire of the members.
The first thing to remember as an excellent leader is that everyone has an ego. We all do what we do because of the "WIIFM" (What's In It For Me?) program run by our ego. I am not saying that no one participates in selfless service. Many people do and, selfless service is often a hallmark of a Mason. The problem with selfless service is that the energy is always directed outward, and after time, one becomes drained of their energy and burnout ensues. One cannot give from an empty cup! Think of all those past masters that you have not seen since they installed their successor.
The ego's needs must be addressed for each individual in order for them to continue to give their energy and time. What they are looking for in the WIIFM are things that meet their interest and inspire them.
This month I challenge you, as a leader, to discover the interests of your members and provide them with the sustenance that satisfies those interests. When the member's interest is addressed it will spark a renewed passion for the craft and the members will, of their own volition, begin to engage. This leads to inspired activity and Masonic goodwill. Dedicate your interest to the interests of your Brother. Truly endeavor to seek happiness and share that happiness with each other.
If you want to learn more about leadership principles, join the York Rite Leadership Training Program.
Send an email to YRL@YorkRiteLeadership.org for more information.
Yours in Knightly Service,
S. Lane Pierce, KYCH