Is it possible to motivate overachievers?

DGE Joe Otin Speech at the Rotary Club of Muthaiga Installation Ceremony

15th June 2019

How do you motivate an overachiever? Or if we put it in another way, do you really need to motivate an overachiever? I’m sure that there are several different angles that we can view the puzzle from but the one that I chose to rest on is simple at best and beautiful in its outcomes. Science has proven to us that the human mind is built for challenge and that if a creative and brilliant mind is not stimulated then it soon becomes bored and can easily turn on itself.

The fact is that the Rotary Club of Muthaiga is an overachiever. You have met or surpassed most of your goals since inception and for this I congratulate you. I noted that the club has 54% women over the district average of 43% and the global average of only 23%. Yes, you have 45 women in your club, but I noted with great concern when reviewing the age trends that 43 members have not reported their age. I wonder if there is a correlation between these two numbers!

In relation to motivating overachievers, I remember the interaction that we had with the Kenya National Rugby team while I was a volunteer at the DEPOT (The Dan Eldon Place of Tomorrow). The DEPOT was a teambuilding and leadership facility that focused on strengthening teams in the private sector, government, development organizations and evidently, sports. The national team came to us when they were going through a dry spell with a trail of miserable defeats behind them.

When the programme began we quickly became aware that team building activities we had prepared for them were part of their staple diet and physical teamwork came naturally to them. We therefore had to regroup and change the activities, focusing more on listening to them for nuances, and it soon became clear to everyone that it was the strained relationships among the team’s star players that was jeopardizing their performance.

That understanding led to open and honest conversations that allowed a greater reliance on one another and improved the appreciation of individual skill. Soon after, they embarked on what turned out to be a sustained winning streak that eventually brought them recognition as a force in international rugby circles.

This experience brought home a number of ideas about motivating overachievers. Firstly, it is critical to understand the nuances in the team dynamics. This requires patience, an ability to listen to everyone, and empathy. Secondly, in order to keep the creative and brilliant minds stimulated it is necessary to set bigger goals. Set a vision for the wonderful things that you can achieve for the community and for yourselves and ensure that the goals stretch your ability. As Kennedy said, “We don’t do these things because they are easy, we do them because they are hard.”

Thirdly, you must appreciate that the resilience of the team relies on the strength of the relationships within. Investing in relationships has the highest rate of return so you might as well spend most of your time building them. These bonds will serve you for the rest of your life and for that they are tremendously fulfilling.

Your Rotary club is an overachiever so let me share a few of our district goals to see how you can help us. Our rallying call is # Elevate Your Game and we have set ambitious targets. We want to grow our membership by 1,000 members in the year based on flexible and innovative club models that have been approved by the council of legislation.

Your club has been requested to sponsor two corporate clubs. Corporate clubs consist of members that all work for one organization and are part of an existing traditional club. Their membership is counted as part of the mother club, and they may choose whether they want to have their own board or not. They may also choose whether they want to carry out their own service projects or do so with their mother club.

We’d also like to you grow your membership as planned and increase the size of your Rotaract clubs.

The district intends to have 6 partnerships with private sector companies, government and development organizations. We’d like your club to arrange for a partnership breakfast with high level representatives in these sectors so that we can cultivate and cement the relationships with the aim of signing them on.

We intend to raise one million dollars for the Foundation and to do so through increased participation of every Rotarian in the district. Your club has made major donations in the past and with this in mind, I’d like to personally request that you increase the giving goal from the $12,000 stated in Rotary Club Central. As a leading club in the district I think the donation you plan should be commensurate with your stature.

Finally, we intend to hold the district conference 2020 in Nairobi from the 2nd to the 4th of April at the Safaricom Stadium. The event is the first ever joint conference between Rotary and Rotaract clubs in our district and we are putting the youth agenda front and center. We are in the process of inviting international heavyweight speakers who can help us to motivate overachievers such as yourselves, as well as a large number of Rotarians in the district.

We are planning the event with the District Governor Nominee Patrick Obath so that the powerful speakers we have during the plenary sessions on day one, will participate in the highly interactive breakout and training sessions that will cover the entire programme in day two. In order to ensure that a majority of our members benefit from this content, our target is set at 1,000 delegates and I’d like your club members to come in large numbers.

These and the other goals were developed by a strategic planning committee that was set up in November 2017 and consisted of Rotarians with experience, knowledge and with admirable reputations from across the district. There were only two members of that team that had not previously served as club president and who were brought in for their expertise in specific areas relevant to the district strategy. One of them was none other than your very own newly installed club president Paul Kasimu.

President Paul, your expertise in top level training and human resources helped us deliver world class training during the recently concluded district leadership training seminars and for this I am forever indebted to you.

May God bless the vision on your mind, the love in your heart and the work of your hands and may He bestow health and good fortune to you and your club members.


4 thoughts on “Is it possible to motivate overachievers?

    1. Thanks Frank. Let’s start with the end in mind and also remember that we have the means to be world-class. I’m looking forward to working with you to deliver this promise.


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