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“Our three mantras are mission, excellence and leadership.”

These words from Steve Tarver have resonated with me ever since our conversation in February. Even over the phone, passion for and dedication to community wellness emanated from the president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Louisville.

And everything about his association — programs, services, staff — is chosen and measured by three words: mission, excellence and leadership.

Just as Tarver and his team do, it’s critical to always talk about and reaffirm your facility’s mission. Doing so brings about positive change, keeps your work in perspective, and serves as a strong motivator, even through the daily grind.

“It’s all about engaging with the needs of the community, not just the needs of the organization,” said Tarver. “We’re nothing like we were back in the 1850s, 60s and 70s. That’s because we have evolved based on local community needs.”

Striving for excellence is another key ingredient to success. And seeking excellence applies to every task in your organization, from fitness program scheduling to facility maintenance, and every person, from front desk worker to executive director. If everyone on your team puts great care into what they do, members will notice.

“Our surveys indicate people describe our staff as extraordinarily caring, friendly and passionate about their work,” said Tarver. “And I’m honored to serve with them every day.”

And finally, the future of your organization depends on developing leaders on your staff and working on your own leadership skills. Both take daily practice and lots of dedication.

“I believe leadership is a journey that never ends,” said Tarver. “I’ve tried to be very strategic about opportunities to leverage where I might have a gift. I’ve also seen I have a lot of weaknesses and I’ve tried to — on a routine basis — improve upon them. I tell that to my staff, and encourage them to do the same.”

Even if your team and you already have your own mantra, I encourage you to look at your organization through the lenses of mission, excellence and leadership. They can become words to live by and a driving force in your success, which only serves to benefit our communities.

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former editor of Community Rec Magazine.

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