Diamonds sold in engagement rings are rather common. If one doesn't believe this, look at the quantity on display in retail outlets and on the internet. And only persons knowledgeable about gemstones are normally able to differentiate diamonds from cubic zirconia or polished crystal. So why do men spend several months' pay for diamond engagement rings? Many believe it is because De Beers' decades-old memorable tag line A Diamond is Forever telegraphed to their beloved that his love for her was everlasting. In other words, even after all the negative publicity, De Beers continues to telegraph that diamonds portray the happily-ever-after dream.
How many people dream or aspire to be a volunteer? Rotary International, a network of leaders, frequently uses that word to describe Rotarians. In a recent Rotary International District Leadership Training survey, one of the questions asked if district leaders would attend a seminar on leading volunteers. How about offering a seminar on leading leaders? Leaders have different psychometric and behavioral mindsets than ordinary volunteers. To many this may seem to be just a matter of semantics, but there is a critical difference - a Big difference - a HUGE difference in the emotional message triggered when using volunteer as a descriptive noun to describe Rotarians. For example, what emotions about Rotary, local Rotary clubs, and Rotarians are communicated in these messages?
"Jane Doe, a member of the Rotary Club of Shark Valley, is a volunteer working in a medical clinic in Haiti."
"Jane Doe, president of Doe Medical and member of the Rotary Club of
Shark Valley, is volunteering to serve at a medical clinic in ." Haiti
Does Rotary International want the non-verbal, emotional message transmitted by the Rotary logo, the Rotary lapel pin, press releases, internet posts, and features in Rotarian magazines be that Rotary is a network of volunteers? If not, then its internal and external marketing must cease using the word as a descriptive noun. Of course Rotarians volunteer their resources to make the world better, one community at the time, but in this sentence, volunteer is properly used as a verb, not a descriptive noun.
Rotarians, and particularly those responsible for Rotary's public image, must clearly understand what it means to be a Rotarian. Then, and when the organizations to which they pay to be members recognize and treat them accordingly, Rotary will escape from the crowded world of being an organization of ordinary volunteers doing good things and be an organization of Rotarians.