On Greatness: A Distinct Contribution



Without community service, we would not have a strong quality of life. It’s important to the person who serves as well as the recipient. It’s the way in which we ourselves grow and develop.

~ Dorothy Height

I recently had the opportunity to volunteer at my son’s elementary school as part of the Watch D.O.G.S (Dads of Great Students) program.  The program was brought to Utah by a gentleman named Jeff Jaramillo after the Sandy Hook tragedy.  Mr. Jaramillo was very concerned by what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary and decided he wanted to do something in our community to ensure that would never happen here.  After extensive internet research he found the Watch D.O.G.S program, contacted the organization, and accepted accountability as the “Top Dog” to establish the program here in Utah.  It is now fully implemented into my son’s school and continues to expand throughout the community.

As a Watch Dog you greet the students as they arrive at the school, confirm the security of the building multiple times throughout the day, and assist the teachers in their classrooms as assigned.  Overriding all of that is to be a positive role model to the students.  My hand was seriously red after all the high fives I had given throughout the day.  It’s part of the fun and “payment” of being a Watch Dog.

I had a wonderful experience interacting with the children and feeling I was contributing to their safety.  I plan to volunteer again.  Check out more information on the program here.

This experience caused me to think about the principle of distinct contribution, one of the elements of organizational greatness defined by FranklinCovey.  Here is a review of FranklinCovey’s four-part definition of organizational greatness:

  1. Sustained Superior Performance
  2. Intensely Loyal Customers
  3. Winning Culture
  4. Distinct Contribution

According to FranklinCovey, when it comes to organizational leadership, a distinct contribution can be analyzed using the following four questions:

  1. What legacy am I creating in my current position?
  2. How will people remember the value I’m adding on my projects and assignments?
  3. Am I the person my co-workers will think about when they are prompted in the future to think of a great example of leadership?
  4. How am I giving back in the workplace?

In terms to distinct contribution to society, FranklinCovey encourages us to consider the following questions for our organization:

  1. Would my community or industry really miss us, if our organization were gone tomorrow? In what specific ways would they miss us?
  2. In what ways are we giving back without the expectation of a direct benefit in return?
  3. What motivates us to continue improving and offering better, more innovative solutions in the future? Is our motivation purely profit or something more?

My experience as a Watch Dog brought me great satisfaction and reminded me of how we all share this world.  I was motivated to continue to contribute to developing our community.  The same is true for the business ecosystem.  We should not only spend our time and energy in pursuit of profits and business objectives, but also work towards a “distinct contribution” so that our organizations leave a legacy.  It starts first with the people in the organization, then it will grow into the brand of the company.

From a personal development perspective, I encourage you to serve in your community.  Contribute to developing your local culture.  A good place to start is in our schools and churches.  There are other civic opportunities to serve if you look for them.

Choose to distinctly contribute.  Choose to give of your time and talents to something more than profits.

Choose greatness.



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