Do, or Do Not. There is No Try.

These words by Yoda are perhaps the most important philosophy in the Star Wars saga, and one uniquely appropriate for BBYO. The history of BBYO shows that teens are able to do far more than anyone ever gives them credit for Рit is no clich̩ to say that they can change the world.
The simple truth is, that most of the time when a member fails to achieve their goals; it is because they give up. Perhaps they stop when they find other members aren’t supporting their efforts as much as they would like. Perhaps they give up because the task seems too hard – they simply lack the confidence in their own ability to make a difference. Perhaps they accept the view of society that a mere “kid” can’t pull off what they have in mind.
The great leaders in BBYO (and elsewhere) are not the smartest, or the most charismatic, or the most popular or even the most skillful. The truly great ones are the stubborn ones – the ones who won’t give up, even when the odds seem against them.
Ultimately, succeeding in a goal is a choice that you make. Like Yoda says – the power to achieve our goals lies within each of us.
But what about impossible goals? What if it truly is too hard? What if the odds really are hopeless?
To answer this question, I encourage you to rent the movie “Man of La Mancha“. It’s the story of Don Quixote, a “knight” who fights hopeless odds and loses and about the fictional author of the story who is also defeated. But their defeats planted the seeds for countless victories. Perhaps (after you watch the film or read the book) even one of yours.

One Voice

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Martin Niemöller
It is so easy to remain silent. It is easy to accept small changes. It is easy to justify small nicks in principle, just as our nation has quietly accepted that long time rights such as habeas corpus, or not having conversations monitored without court order do not matter, as long as the person in question is accused of terrorism. It’s easy to say that “they” are good people, so of course what they do is justified.
We are a nation losing the war on terror, because we are terrorized. We are a nation that proclaims freedom even as we dribble away our rights to well meaning government officials in the name of safety. We are a nation that has sent nearly 3000 of our troops to be killed and 22,000 wounded, with virtually no sacrifice by any American not part of the military or a military family.
Ah, I am morose tonight. It happens.
I am but one small voice. And my words but whispers of a spirit; advocate of principles and ideals long held as faith, even if not often fully manifested.
But I am not alone. Other spirits speak as well, and perchance one may speak to you, the reader.
The problem of freedom in America is that of maintaining a competition of ideas, and you do not achieve that by silencing one brand of idea.
Max Lerner
Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficient. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.
Louis D. Brandeis
It is our attitude toward free thought and free expression that will determine our fate. There must be no limit on the range of temperate discussion, no limits on thought. No subject must be taboo. No censor must preside at our assemblies.
William O. Douglas  
The way to combat noxious ideas is with other ideas. The way to combat falsehoods is with truth.
William O. Douglas

Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.
John Milton

Liberty of thought means liberty to communicate one’s thought.
Salvador de Madariaga
Fear of corrupting the mind of the younger generation is the loftiest form of cowardice.
Holbrook Jackson
If the press is not free, if speech is not independent and untrammeled, if the mind is shackled or made impotent through fear, it makes no difference under what form of government you live, you are a subject and not a citizen.
William E. Borah
And finally:
In America – as elsewhere – free speech is confined to the dead.
Mark Twain
Good thing I’m a ghost. Good evening Mr. Clemens

Trust: The 8th Cardinal Principle

Trust. It’s something we hardly ever talk about in BBYO. Yet it impacts every aspect and level of the organization. Think for a moment about all of the places where trust comes into play:

  • Chapters trust their board members to do their jobs
  • Members trust other members to be kind and friendly (fraternal)
  • Chapter leaders trust members to meet their commitments (planning events, doing jobs they commit to)
  • Parents, members and staff trust advisors to keep members safe and to interpret policy wisely (a lot of trust that, when you think about it)
  • Advisors trust the chapter (more on this in a moment), and trust regional staff/international to support them in their work.


Is Your Chapter/Region a GM or a Toyota?

Sit down and get comfortable. This is going to take a while. But trust me – it’s going to be worth it.
GM, or General Motors, was the largest car company in the world. They have one car in the top 11 in terms of quality (JD Powers). They lost 10.5 billion dollars last year.
Toyota is the largest car company in the world. They have 7 of the top 11 cars in terms of quality (including Lexus). They made 11.8 billion dollars last year.
Why is this?

  • Are Japanese smarter than Americans? No.
  • Do they work harder? No (many of those Toyotas are made by American workers in Toyota plans here in the U.S.).

So what is it?
One of the major reasons is simple: Management and Corporate culture.
What does this have to do with BBYO? After all, you’re not exactly in the car business, right?
Your chapter, your region and BBYO Inc. are organizations – groups of people who come together in an organized manner for a purpose.
Like any organization, its ability to accomplish that purpose depends on its internal management, organization and culture. The better your management and culture, the more likely your organization will succeed in its goals.
Today I’m going to show you where GM went wrong and where Toyota went right – and exactly how you can apply those lessons to BBYO. Some of what you read here will probably surprise you.