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The Back to School Mantra


It is the end of the summer, or in my house it’s back to school for my son, a 6th grader, and my husband, an elementary school counselor. When I dropped off Jack recently for his last first day of elementary school I reminded him to learn something, make good choices, and be nice. He responded, “Do you know you say that every day?” To which I replied, “Yes, and for a reason.”

I’ve been reflecting on why I say this and realized it might just be my mantra. I aspire to learn something, make good choices, and be nice every day. Some days, I accomplish all three with ease and other days, it is a bit more challenging.

Learn something. I’m fortunate to work at MCI USA where I’m surrounded by smart, creative professionals, that I call friends. They’ve taught me by sharing what they’ve deemed successful and sometimes what wasn’t so successful. Our team is exceptional at sharing articles around association management, so by the end of the week, there is always a stack of new ideas just waiting. Just this week I learned about a new online tool to engage with volunteers. Not only do my colleagues teach me about new concepts, but with enthusiasm and passion for the work we do. They inspire me to do better and grow for both my clients and my own professional goals. Here at MCI USA, we are a group of A+ students. I would bet that when most of us were in elementary school many years ago, we sat in the first row of the classroom, never missed a class, and even did extra credit. And we do the same now that we are out of school and grown. We want to do A+ work for our clients. We want to achieve our goals, and do the extra credit to surpass them by continuing to learn.

Make good choices. I believe that life is a series of choices and it is about making the good ones.  Even little choices can have long-lasting consequences. I reflect upon making good choices even at work. Do I really need to send this critical email? Would it be better if I just walked down the hall and explained where the mistake occurred so that my colleague might learn? There are choices all around us and making good ones is not always easy to recognize, but we should always try.

Be nice. This is my favorite. As a mom, I expect Jack to be nice to everyone in school. It hurts me to hear stories about bullies and cliques. My husband often says that 5th grade girls keep him employed because of all their “friendship” drama. Here at MCI USA, I try to be nice to my colleagues, volunteers, and members. Sometimes it’s by doing the little things like bringing in donut holes, taking a new team member out to lunch, or presenting a bottle of wine to a colleague who really went the extra mile. Wow – a lot of food and drink involved in being nice. But being nice is also about words of affirmation. Sending thank you notes to my outgoing board members, showcasing volunteer leaders who helped us reach our sales goal during committee calls or just caring about the people I spend so much of my day with. And I really do.

My global colleagues and I are about “building community.” I can think of no better way than by learning something, making good choices, and being nice.

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