Wow! What a fantastic weekend at Presidents and Deputies Day in Barnsley!
Big thank you to JCI Barnsley for the hosting a professional, well ran, enjoyable event. I started my journey to P&D travelling with Selina from JCI Derry whom I met in Belfast, and we got the flight over on Friday evening. We arrived at the beautiful Holiday Inn Hotel in Barnsley on a full stomach, after our stop to Taco Bell (our first ever, we don’t have those in Northern Ireland).
The hotel lobby was spacious and had a luxurious feel, with the spa and health club within 30 seconds walking distance for those who enjoy the relaxed and pampered lifestyle. I know a few of our members enjoyed it so much they were late for the evening dinner the following day, which gave us all some laughs. The rooms were great and had their own work bench which is very useful for those like me on business trips and appreciate a good work area to keep on top of business.
After the check-in, and dropping our bags of at our rooms, Selina and I met at the watering hole (hotel bar) for the customary long day travel relaxation potion, where we bumped into and caught up with James Lambert, National Deputy President. We were quite sensible and just had the one potion before retiring for the night.
The following day, we arrived at the conference room where we caught up with the National Board and other Local and Deputy Presidents. It’s always a pleasure seeing them again. One thing about JCI, is that you have that instant connection with other members, even if it is your first National event like Selina’s. This is because, although we may all be varied in culture, religion, personalities or taste in local cuisines (our mixed reviews from our choice to visit Taco Bell), we all share a common vision and mission to become the leading global network of young active citizens and to provide development opportunities that empower young people to create positive change. And yes, that’s taken straight from the JCI Vision and Mission and we can never remind ourselves enough of why we do it, why we use our free time and consistent effort, which is given by choice, on top of our busy work and personal lives, to really develop ourselves to become people of value who can make an impact, influence and shape the future of the world. There is no better place to empower people to make an impact than JCI.
Mahatma Ghandi said, “If you want to change the world, start with yourself”. It’s so true and its one of those things that I have had to develop and learn as a leadership skill in myself. I have to inspire and lead by example. We all have flaws and we aren’t perfect, but Stepping Up (pun massively intended, I’m not even sorry) into leadership roles, whether that is local, national, or simply organising or running projects, events or programs as members, is the best, and I would say only, thing you can do if you want to make a difference. Start by pushing your boundaries and even though you don’t feel ready for it, just Step Up and do it anyway and learn as you go. They say necessity is the mother of all invention, and when you put yourself into these roles, it gives you that little push you need to invent and reveal things in yourself that you didn’t know was there, or that you were capable of, and it does it in a safe place, surrounded by those like-minded people who are there to support you at every Step of the way (more puns, don’t act you don’t like them ????).
The council meeting itself went smoothly, commencing at 9.30am sharp. We heard the Chairman’s Report from the National President and the Reports from the National Council Team where the floor was open to questions, discussions and then approval of the reports. The new Finance and Membership director Ben Goddard was voted in to everyone’s cheers. He has been doing a fantastic job and we know he will continue to do so. We were then given a presentation of the 2018 JCI UK Accounts before their approval. The budget and website funding were passed through as well as the discussion for the proposal of more efficient card payment methods for chambers. There was a proposal for investment of funds and mentioning of the Ten Outstanding Young People Awards (TOYP) before talking about the Chamber Taskforce and the JCI UKs 5 Year Strategic Plan. A plan that will pave the way for future generations of JCI members and something I’m excited to see progress and evolve.
The National events was next on the Council Meeting Agenda and there was an expression of interest for the 2020 National events and it was good to see the chambers putting themselves forward for this and willing to bring these events to their home towns to raise the profile of their cities. I gave a short presentation around the upcoming JCI UK National Convention which is held in Belfast on the 22nd – 24th November. It was well received, and everyone is super excited about it. Details are on the JCI Belfast Facebook page for those wanting to know more.
At the council meeting, there were some disagreements and some challenges on the policies, which are expected and welcomed, in order to make sure we are representing and getting across the views and opinions of our local chambers, there were some great insights and helpful comments, but overall, we were all in agreement with the policies and direction of JCI UK and I found this very encouraging. The National Council did an excellent job, with the highly capable National President Mark Smith taking us through the proceedings. Mark has a great way of bringing out the best in people and inspiring others to keep moving forward within our chambers and to overcome the challenges which we can all face as leaders.
I think as local and deputy presidents, one of the most invaluable traits you can learn is that resistance to adversity. You realise you will face challenges and obstacles, but you also build up the confidence to know that you can deal with it. Yes, it may not be perfect and there will be bumps in the road but as long as you are on the road and you are driving in the right direction, that is what matters. Even going in first year is better than being parked or going in reverse. So, keep your mind in gear and your foot on the throttle and you will need more than a rear-view mirror to look back and see how far you have come, you will need a telescope.
After the very productive council meeting, we had some lunch and networking, before resuming to meeting with the Awards Hints and Tips by James Lambert followed by the Plan of Impact Review, reflecting on the first quarter of 2019 and how we can deliver and support on key areas and discuss the emerging ideas for 2020.
At the close of the meeting, everyone was feeling very inspired and motivated. It really helps you align with the wider vision of JCI as a global organisation. Next, we had a bit of free time where we caught up with other members over a relaxation potion in the watering hole. Its always great catching up with members in that informal setting because you always learn new things and its reassuring to find out that some of the challenges you face in your chamber, are also faced by other chambers, so you know you aren’t alone and you can work through them and discover possible solutions to the challenges you face.
For the evening time, we went out for a fantastic meal in Barnsley at the Grille Steakhouse and the food was amazing! The following morning, we broke into our Local and Deputy Presidents groups where we got some training by Mark Smith and James Lambert (National Deputy President). These are both practical and reflective sessions and exercises which are hugely beneficial. You get to learn and discover the skills which you can not only use yourself but bring back and use within our local chambers. Mark took the Local Presidents through training, with Phoebe Benta, Local President of JCI Nottingham, taking us through the a gratitude meditation exercise which is always a great way to help clear the mind and bring us some focus. We then had time to reflect on the first quarter as Local Presidents and we broke down some features of being in JCI, into the benefits. A great exercise to help us dig deeper into the reasons of being in JCI and how we can use these common phrases such as “networking” or “develop leadership skills” into words that give it a lot more meaning and relatability, which helps us to communicate to others (members and non-members alike) why JCI is such a great organisation to be apart of. Its often hard to describe JCI because it covers so many areas, so this was a great exercise to help understand the organisation and communicate that at a deeper level.
After the exercise we took a walk for 20 minutes, with each person getting 10 minutes to speak without being interrupted, which allowed us to express anything we have on our minds and allow us to open up and talk about issues that are important to us, while having that listening and sympathetic ear to hear us. A great exercise for our minds to release, deal or process any issues we would like to express. Very therapeutic. We entered into the meeting room again after the Walking Exercise and wrapped up the meeting with any other discussions or things that we had on our minds relating to going back home and bring all we have learnt over the weekend back to our Chambers.
Overall, it was a fantastic weekend from start to finish. A massive well done to JCI Barnsley and the National Council for making everything run so smoothly and giving us all a very productive, insightful and highly valuable Presidents and Deputies Weekend. It is great to see JCI UK and the local chambers doing so well. For those reading this, my advice to you all, don’t underestimate what JCI can do for you and how you can use it as a platform to make an impact on your local and wider communities. Stay active, engaged involved. And most importantly, keep your mind in gear and your foot on the throttle.