Cornerstones

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Jumpstart Cornerstones at Your Chapter

10 Actions to Jumpstart Cornerstones at Your Chapter (Active Members)

1 ) Have every member complete the Cornerstones Personal Development Plan. Schedule a time for the members of your chapter (& pledges if applicable) to complete the personal development plan template provided by Acacia HQ. Or just share the url with all of your members & set a timeframe within which it is to be completed.

2 ) Post everyone’s personal goals in a public location, whether that be in your chapter house, or online through GoogleDocs, or ACACIAconnect.org, or individual blog sites for each member. Knowing each other’s goals will make it easier to support each other, as well as reveal to each other what we consider to be the most important aspects of our lives. Some may hesitate to make their goals public, and that’s ok. Some may want to keep some goals private, and that’s ok also. If members are not willing to share their goals, at least ask that they share their Values, as written out in the Values Clarification exercise in the Cornerstones Personal Development Plan.

3) Implement weekly Accountability Group meetings. Schedule times for 5 – 6  members with similar goals (or similar grade levels) to have a brief meeting, during which everyone has a chance to discuss their progress on their current goals.  In the book The Success Principles, author Jack Canfield calls this a “MasterMind meeting”, and recommends the following 7 steps.

  1. Ask for Spiritual Guidance by Delivering an Invocation (use Bless Now Acacia, or this book suggests something along these lines: “We ask now to be filled & surrounded with light, and our hearts be open to receive guidance from the higher power.”)
  2. Share What’s New & Good (in terms of making progress toward your goals)
  3. Negotiate for Time (determine how much time each group member will have for the focus to be on them)
  4. Individual Members Speak While the Group Listens & Brainstorms Solutions (remember – in brainstorming there are no “bad ideas” – keep your mind open)
  5. Make a Commitment to Stretch (once each member gains feedback, ask each member to verbally commit to a next action to move him forward & the commitment should be a stretch)
  6. End with a Moment of Gratitude (go around and have each member express one thing he appreciates about each other person in the group)
  7. Be Accountable (at next meeting, simply ask “Did each member take action?  Did they achieve their goal?”).
  • (this content was paraphrased from pages 310 – 312 in The Success Principles by Jack Canfield, published by Harper Collins Publishers, 2005)

4 ) Implement an Accountability Partner system by which each member (that is interested in participating) has a partner with whom they “check in” each day simply to talk about successes they have had in reaching their goals and their plans for next action steps to continue to move toward their goals.  Also in The Success Principles, author Jack Canfield suggests that “The key to a successful accountability relationship is choosing someone who is as excited about reaching his or her goal as you are about reaching yours – someone who is committed to your success and theirs.” (from page 313 of The Success Principles, published by Harper Collins Publishers, 2005)

5 ) Survey the entire chapter to discover topics of interest for “educational/developmental presentations”, compile the results, then use all of your resources to schedule presentations that are relevant to the topics of interest. You can use the Survey or Poll functions in your myACACIA account for this purpose. Simply navigate to the Tools menu from your myACACIA Dashboard, select Survey or Polls, follow the instructions & share with your chapter members.

6 ) Discover opportunities hosted by university community.  Find out if your university (or the Student Union Board, or the Student Body, or the Campus Activities office, or the Career Center) schedules & hosts any expert speakers that would fulfill any of the above-mentioned topics of interest. If so, publicize the event to the chapter and encourage members to go.  Hold a brief discussion afterwards to hone in on key points made during presentation, by asking these basic questions that could be used to reflect on any development activity:

  1. “What?” – as in “What experience did you just have?”
  2. “So What?” – as in “How is this experience relevant to you?”
  3. “Now What?” – as in “What will you do now that you have this new knowledge, experience, mindset, or perspective?”

 

7 ) Publish an eNewsletter to send out to alumni in which you provide brief bios of each of the members of your chapter, including which of the members are currently looking for internship or employment opportunities. Each chapter is encouraged to work with Acacia Headquarters to create eNewsletters to be sent out to you alumni – or you can take this into your own hands & just get it done. If you are interested in creating & distributing eNewsletters, please contact Director of Communications, Michael Moore, at mmoore@acacia.org.

8 ) Use your alumni as resources. Use the results of your earlier survey to discover topics of interest for “educational/developmental presentations”, and publish a list of topics in your eNewsletter (or on your chapter website) that the chapter is interested in. Once you get this list published, recruit alumni members to deliver educational presentations on one of the following topics (or any other you’re interested in):

  • Time Management
  • Goal Setting
  • Job Search
  • How to Find a Mentor
  • Things I Wish I Knew When I Was in College
  • Financial Management
  • or any other topic that the chapter is interested in

9 ) Build your “Cornerstones Library”.  Create a “wish list for a Cornerstones Library”then do whatever you have to do to bring it to life, and use the contents of the Cornerstones library for the personal development of chapter members. Do some research to find out about any books or training materials that meet the topics of interest (mentioned above) in terms of utilizing them for Cornerstones discussions/activities. If you’re having trouble deciding which books to select, take a look at a previous post for some ideas. For example, let’s say you wanted to purchase copies of The Success Principles for all members of your chapter, and that you were able to do that. Those books could then be used in the Accountability Group structure, by assigning the reading of sections of the book to Accountability Group members, then focusing on those sections during your meetings. All you would need to do is ask yourself: “What did everyone discover in the assigned section?”, “How is that relevant to your life situation?”, and “What will you do now that you have this new knowledge?”

10 ) Take responsibility and ownership for your own development, bring along any brothers who are interested, and don’t waste time trying to motivate members who just aren’t motivated to work on their personal development. This may be difficult to understand, but you cannot change another person. Change only happens from within that individual.  You can do your best to inform your members of opportunities that are available, and inform them of what you are doing in your own life, and the benefits that you are seeing as a result. Cornerstones is about commitment, not compliance. We are interested in working together with other brothers that are committed to their own development. We are not interested in telling brothers that they “have to” participate in Cornerstones, because that will automatically set up resistance in their mind, which will make it harder for them to commit. Work on your own sphere of influence – your own thoughts, ideas, and attitudes. Let your actions speak for you. Let others see a change in you, and soon they will be asking how you are doing what you’re doing.

The Voice of the Knowledge Worker

One of the most successful books in the area of personal development isThe 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, as mentioned in my previous post.  Covey published a follow-up book called The 8th Habit, in which he talks about humans in the current Knowledge Worker Age (or Information Age), which has replaced the Industrial Age and all of its now outdated ways of doing things.

The primary assumption is that the world has fundamentally shifted, and the old ways of getting results that worked in the Industrial Age will no longer suffice. For example, companies and organizations can no longer treat employees like “things” and still expect them to be loyal to the company.

In this new paradigm, it is essential that we look at humans in a new way as well. The Knowledge Worker Age is based on another assumption or perspective called the Whole Person Paradigm, wherein each human is seen as having 4 dimensions: body, mind, heart, & spirit.

Covey states in the book, “I commend to you again this simple way of thinking about life: a whole person (body, mind, heart, & spirit) with four basic needs (to live, to learn, to love, & to leave a legacy), and four intelligences (physical, mental, emotional, & spiritual) and their highest manifestations (discipline, vision, passion, conscience), all of which represent the four dimensions of voice (need, talent, passion, & conscience).” The table accessible at the following link demonstrates this statement concisely: Whole Person Paradigm table

Voice” is defined by Covey as your “unique, personal significance” or “your calling”.  Covey suggests that “voice lies at the nexus of talent (your natural gifts and strengths), passion (those things that naturally energize, excite, motivate, and inspire you), need (including what the world needs enough to pay you for), and conscience (that still, small voice within that assures you of what is right and that prompts you to actually do it).”

Note that “spiritual” is not necessarily related to any set of religious beliefs.  “Spiritual” refers to an individual feeling a deep sense of purpose or mission about their contribution to their community – wherever that may be.  “Spiritual” refers to “who you are at your very core” and your own interpretation about how you fit into the larger community.

Cornerstones 2.0: Find Your Voice, Tell Your Story

“Finding Your Voice, and Telling Your Story” is what Cornerstones is all about.  The process of “Finding Your Voice” is what fraternities have always been all about, although it may have been articulated in different ways.

Covey suggests that “when you engage in work (professional, community, family) that taps your talent and fuels your passion – that rises out of a great need in the world that you feel drawn by conscience to meet – therein lies your voice, your calling, your soul’s code.”

I am focusing on this idea of “voice” in order to make an important point about the program – which is – that Cornerstones is not about mandating a certain course for each individual member's personal development. It is your responsibility to chart on your own. Cornerstones is about applying some basic principles of personal development in a way that is personally meaningful to you.

Finding Your Voice” refers to the process of personal development and introspection by which an individual comes to discover or create their “calling”, or their life’s work. As mentioned above, your “voice” can be found at the intersection of your talent, your passion, the needs of your community, & your conscience.

Telling Your Story” relates to the practice of demonstrating the growth or progress that you are making as an individual.  It includes the casual conversations that you have with your friends, questions that you answer for potential members, writing a reflection after participating in a development activity, as well as being able to explain to a potential employer why your experience in Acacia provided you with a process that made you into the best possible candidate for the job you are going after.

So, again, the first step in our new “Cornerstones 2.0” model is to complete the Cornerstones Personal Development Plan. Do the introspection, the reflection. Then, feeling more connected to “who you really are” – go out and take action to realize your dreams & goals! It’s that simple.

Get Wisdom Book List

At the 2011 Acacia Leadership Academy, I spoke on the subject of Cornerstones 2.0.  In another post, I explain Cornerstones 2.0.

At the request of several of the ALA participants, I am publishing a list of a few of the books that I have read over the past few years, in my own search for knowledge, wisdom & understanding. I’ve listed what I consider the “Top 7”.  I’ll continue to add to this list as time goes on & I read more.

Now, I should mention that I am one of those individuals who enjoys reading text.  If reading is not your thing, most (if not all) of these are available on audiobook, so you could listen to them while you work out, walk to class, etc.

Without further ado, here is the list of books, ranked according to what I consider to be their relevance to Cornerstones:

1) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic by Stephen Covey & The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness by Stephen Covey.  The first book is probably the most influential & widely-read personal development book of the past half-century (at least).  Both books are mentioned here because they flow together.  Many of the exercises or ideas used in Cornerstones 2.0 were discovered in one or both of these books.

2) The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield.  Compiled & written by one of the biggest success stories in the current age, this book is packed full of nuggets of wisdom that have the potential to help anyone along their path to realizing their dreams.  Canfield is also one of the most widely-respected personalities in the field of personal development, having co-authored the hugely successful Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

3) The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr & Tony Schwartz.  This book turns the whole idea of “time management” on its head and suggests that the most important aspect of your life to manage is your level of personal energy, while successfully oscillating back & forth between energy expenditure & energy renewal.  The authors use much research from the world of top athletes & top industry leaders who achieve peak performance to provide a template & gameplan for how we can all structure our days to achieve heightened levels of joy & performance.  The Corporate Athlete Training Program & Personal Development Plan template specified in this book are being used by Acacia Fraternity for the purposes of Cornerstones, with permission of the Human Performance Institute.  Check out this video for an explanation of their view of “Energy vs. Time”.

4) How to Get an “A” in Life: The Seven Pillars of Achievement by John Dudeck & Diane Dudeck.  John Dudeck is an Acacia Brother from the Indiana Chapter, who recently presented at the 2011 Acacia Leadership Academy.  John & his wife, Diane, have created a clear framework in The Seven Pillars of Achievement that is an ideal system for making decisions in our life based on Wisdom.  The Seven Pillars (Faith, Integrity, Attitude, Discipline, Relationships, Growth, & Balance) are a relevant framework that our members can use as their “moral compass” while making some of life’s most important decisions.

5) Strengths-Based Leadership by Tom Rath & Barry Conchie.  This book is one of the latest in a series of books that originates from research completed by the Gallup Organization over the past 50 years, and it includes a powerful StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment that, when completed, will summarize your Top 5 Strengths, as well as provide ideas about how best to put your strengths to work.  There are a number of books in this Strengths-Based series, and all of them could be relevant to you, however this one onStrengths-Based Leadership is particularly relevant to Cornerstones & Acacia Fraternity.

6) Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (not Acacia’s Dave Allen), here’s a link to his company’s website. His website does a great job of describing GTD (Getting Things Done).  His model for workflow mastery has redefined how I live my life, how I process information, how I plan to complete projects.  A lot of what he recommends is very logical & will make perfect sense to you – almost as if you already know this information.  I highly recommend this book & the process described within to any member of Acacia, and especially to new executive officers who might feel overwhelmed by all of the various responsibilities associated with your role.

7) The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination & Enjoying Guilt-Free Play by Neil Fiore, Ph.D.  A further description can be found here. This book has had a huge impact on how I “talk to myself” in order to motivate myself to take action on the following: things that a part of me may not want to do (i.e. “exercise daily”), & large projects with distant, looming deadlines (i.e. “implement Cornerstones”).  The ideas contained in this book were, and continue to be, nothing short of revolutionary for my ability to focus on the most important things in my life, avoid procrastination, and feel a sense of progress on large projects.

How to Apply Any of These Books within the context of Cornerstones: 

Step 1: Set a goal related to reading books on the subject of personal development.  For example, my goal is to read at least 1 hour per day on the subject of personal development.

Step 2: Read the book.

Step 3: Take notes & do the exercises that the authors recommend. Keep a file folder on your computer (or a notebook/binder) with word processing documents in which you take notes or do the exercises.

Step 4: Get Better at Stuff.  You will undoubtedly improve & develop based on the extend to which you engage with this kind of material. Sometimes progress will be immediately obvious, sometimes it will be more “slow & steady” – but just the fact that you are continually working on “getting better” will lead you to improvements that you can’t imagine at this point.

Step 5: Repeat.