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Letter To The Editor - May 11, 2024

Dear Sir,

Making a difference:

After this year’s Lake Chapala Society AGM held in March, several members told me they wished I could have spent more time talking about the future. I fully agree.

Here, I would like to share my intended message to members: A call for all organizations at Lakeside to come together and collaborate for the betterment of the community.

Despite its many struggles, the Lake Chapala Society has done very well in the world that was. But I believe we have an opportunity to create a better organization and continue as a leader in bringing together more members of the Lakeside communities — Mexicans and foreigners. To achieve more than incremental progress toward this goal, we must transform the LCS.

This transformation means building on the capacity and skills to deliver on our vision, faster and better. We must engage more people than we otherwise would have using past models, by broadening our relevance and impact in our common community. 

One of the highlights of LCS is the diversity of its programs and its  engagement. While we may not be able to fill every need of every person, we can enhance what we do, and what we offer to the community.

The biggest challenge that we face as an organization and a community is the lack of resources. We have very committed volunteers and staff who give so much of their time and talents. But we are only scratching the surface. We need people who can come together to collaborate and share equally in all directions. We can all learn from one another; it is never a one-way process.  LCS does not act alone — we have no special power — and we are not an island unto ourselves, but instead a piece of the community in a position to develop meaningful collaborations.

One of the challenges every organization faces is the reality of egos. What will it take to bring us together and accept that people are committed to making a difference in any way they can? Leadership expert and author Jim Collins talks about there being room on the bus for everyone who truly wants to make a difference. But we need to come together to determine if people are in the appropriate seats so the bus can move forward in the right direction.

Nonprofits are messy things, often because of two factors: passion and power.

Passion refers to intense emotions and desires, and provides the fuel that drives actions, pursuits and interests. It is the profound enthusiasm and zeal that propels individuals to pursue their goals relentlessly. Passion often stems from deeply held beliefs and values, and can manifest itself in various forms, such as love, creativity, determination or ambition. When individuals are passionate about something, they invest their time, energy and resources into it, often achieving remarkable feats and driving meaningful change.

I have had the honor of meeting thousands of incredibly passionate people who come together to make a difference in something important to them. These people should always be encouraged.

Power, on the other hand, represents the ability to influence outcomes, resources, or people. It can be acquired through various means, including wealth, authority, knowledge, expertise, or charisma. Power can be used for constructive purposes, such as enacting positive change, fostering innovation, or most importantly, empowering others.

When passion and power intersect, they can produce both transformative and potentially volatile outcomes. Passionate individuals who wield power can harness their enthusiasm to inspire others, catalyze movements, or advance noble causes.

Throughout history, the interplay between passion and power has shaped the course of events, the outcomes of conflicts, and the trajectory of social movements. Leaders who harness their passion and power wisely can leave a legacy of positive change.

I am not a lawyer and am not perfect.  I can comfortably state that I have always done what I believe is in the best interests of those with whom I have shared collaborations. My only request is that I am judged by my actions and the contributions I work tirelessly to make. I have not done any of this alone. It is the support of the community that makes all these efforts possible.

We have about 300 volunteers at LCS — and countless more in the community who are dedicated to various causes of importance to Lakeside. Can we come together to make a true difference and leave a collective legacy for the future?

Steve Balfour