Rotary 4-Way Test: Don’t just recite it — live it

I had a meeting the other day with a gentleman I admire greatly.  He's really a super individual: smart, very business savvy, has a great heart for important causes and practices the art of service -- in other words, the ideal Rotarian.  I had originally met him at a Rotary club where I was speaking, so I had always believed he WAS a Rotarian.  Imainge my surprise when he told me he wasn't actually a Rotarian, but he had been made an honorary Rotarian because of his service to both the club and the community as a whole.

I found this quite surprising. When I asked him why he didn't become an actual Rotarian, his answer surprised me: he shared with me very frankly that, in his opinion, there were too many people in the club that, while they all talked about the importance of The 4-Way Test, they didn't really live it.

Now, this happened several days ago, but it stuck in my craw and has been bugging me ever since. I've had the same experiences myself, I have to admit, and it really troubles me when a fellow Rotarian behaves in a way that goes against the principles of The 4-Way Test. Especially when they act that way toward other Rotarians.

For those of you who may not be Rotarians but are reading this blog, let me quickly cite its four principles so you know what we're talking about.  In the 4-Way Test, we Rotarians are encouraged to consider...

In all we think, say or do…:

  • Is it the TRUTH?
  • Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  • Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER friendships?
  • Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Now, I've certainly discussed the individual meaning of the points of The 4-Way Test in other posts, so I don't plan to do that again here. Feel free to look those up if you want to explore its meaning and significance more deeply. What I do want to talk about is the importance of not only reciting it, but the importance of believing it and living it, if you are truly bought into the purpose and meaning of Rotary. (more…)

Did you like this? Share it:

Character Counts – Rotary’s 4-Way Test in Action (Part II)

Several weeks ago, I embarked on the first of this two-part series of posts, which intended to show how Rotary International's 4-Way Test is mapped directly to key character traits...or social skills...necessary for personal and professional success. This is part of the presentation I do across the country, sharing the Rotary-specific version of my speech entitled "Overcoming Failure to Educate."

In the first post, I took a look at the first two statements of the 4-Way Test.  As a refresher, these are:

  • Is it the TRUTH?
  • Is it FAIR to all concerned?

Today, I'd like to take a look under the hood of the second two statements, and see not only what character traits they represent, but also how they connect with the first two to form a cohesive whole.  As I recently had the opportunity to share with a fellow Rotarian, the statements of the 4-Way Test are not meant to be used as independent "factoids" for assessment.  While we might be able to evaluate one situation against the statement "Is it the TRUTH?" and come up with a "yes," it's also possible that something may be true, yet fail another statement such as "Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER friendships?" In that case, the situation, as a whole, will fail to pass the assessment of the 4-Way Test. (Want a quick example?'s one: your spouse asks you the immortal question "Does this outfit make me look fat?"  Depending on how you answer, you may be telling the TRUTH, but you can bet your bottom dollar that answer won't be building any GOODWILL, right? Not only does your answer fail the 4-Way Test, but it's an epic fail!)

Having established that, what say we go on to statements three and four? (more…)

Did you like this? Share it:

Character Counts – Rotary’s 4-Way Test in Action

As part of my mission to educate the country on the importance of social skills, positive character and values, I travel nationally and internationally speaking to business, service, and other groups.  Many of these presentations involve speaking to Rotary clubs.  It's a "happy marriage" of form and function, because I also happen to be a Rotarian (Redmond Rotary, WA).

As I present in the Rotary version of my talk, "Overcoming Failure to Educate," there is a direct mapping between what Rotarians believe in and positive social skills and character (for a quick video excerpt of the Rotary presentation, click on the image below or here).

One of the hallmark's of Rotary is "The 4-Way Test."  Originally it was established as a way for Rotarians to evaluate whether any present or considered business interaction was ethical and honest.  But, over time, the 4-Way Test has become the litmus test for how Rotarians should conduct themselves at all times.

Since this is National Character Counts week, I thought it might be very interesting to explore how the 4-Way Test is a study in character...this isn't a stretch for's part of my normal Rotary presentation (and, in fact, our Exploring the Virtues curriculum, under the lesson of Honesty). (more…)

Did you like this? Share it: