Ran Elfassy's Blog

Hong Kong SAR China
Ran was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Montreal and has been in Hong Kong since 2003. A lifetime conservationist and do-gooder, he launched Shark Rescue in 2009 to help protect sharks and our oceans. Since 2012, he's been developing ideas in Service Leadership with Po Chung. To inspire people to go beyond what they think they can do, he launched the I AM FULL-ON! blog at Ecozine.

How Service Leadership Helps Me Save Sharks

One path to full-on conservation
April 17, 2015

►  Service Leadership model can be used to improve results.
►  Being full-on is the moment when we decide to commit.
►  What are you waiting for – what’s going to get you full-on?
 
Service leadership is for helping you better connect to the people in your life. How you do it and what the effects will be are up to you. In this post, we will begin to see how Service Leadership can be applied to better understand conservation effectiveness.
 
To recap, in the previous posts I introduced the idea that a network of people is held together by the Chi of Service, the energy we feel toward one another. Like the Asian notion of a person’s ‘energy’, the Chi of Service has a health that can be improved or damaged. This followed the principle that Service Leadership offers an important way of thinking about how we relate to one-another. This is especially true of we accept that life is about giving service to the people we’re in contact with, every day.
 
 
I also introduced the 3Cs of Service Leadership, which are our Competence, Character and Care. Great service leaders make sure they’re competent, trustworthy, and deeply care about the wellbeing of others.
 
To see how these relate to conservation – and hopefully this will inspire you to launch your own campaign – let’s review a campaign that is close to my heart: Shark Rescue.
 
 
WELCOME TO THE CRUX
 
Due to the 2008 Financial Crisis, my livelihood sputtered to a standstill. With no clients before me and lots of time on my hands, I did for myself what I did for others. I asked myself what was truly important? Where do I want to put my energy? How can I make the world a better place? 
 
I did some research and learned how one area that needed attention was marine conservation. I also learned more about how sharks around the world were facing serious threats from the shark trade. At the time, WWF and Greenpeace were the most important group doing marine conservation, but there wasn’t anyone in Hong Kong who were dedicated to sharks.
 
I also learned that although Hong Kong was a major market for eating shark fin, this didn’t come close to the city’s impact in the trade. As far as shark fin trade was concerned, Hong Kong was the powerhouse in the supply chain.
 
Eventually, I reached a critical point. From inside me, who I was, came the moment when I decided to do something. This was when I decided to take action. This was the moment when I saw the crux before me and I committed. To use the term of this blog series, this was the moment when I decided to be full-on.
 
 
WELCOME TO GROUND ZERO OF THE SHARK TRADE
 
On 9 August 2009, I got into costume and headed to Des Voeux road in Sheung Wan (to see the video, click here). If Hong Kong is the hub for the shark trade, the stretch of shops on Des Voeux road was Ground Zero. That a third of the 250+ species of sharks were under threat or endangered was a reality on display, where tons of shark fin were bought and sold while habitats around the world collapsed.
 
Very quickly and independently, more and more groups began to raise the alarm. Groups like the Hong Kong Shark Foundation, Bloom Association, and others came forward with the message that sharks and our oceans are under crisis. In the few years since, we’ve seen amazing, promising results. There is no doubt that more people have come to understand and fight for the survival of shark species - even if we're still too far from our goal of true marine sustainability.
 
 
RATING EFFECTIVENESS
 
Service Leadership does not lead to ego-driven leadership. Using the case of Shark Rescue, if I have succeeded as a service leader, it’s not about how well I have succeeded on a personal level. I will hand the reigns over to anyone willing to take Shark Rescue higher and farther. From Service Leadership, this what I can use to better understand how I can improve Shark Rescue’s mission by connecting more powerfully with others.
 
There is no doubt in my mind that every success Shark Rescue ever had was due to the people attracted to our mission.
 
In my case, my Competence happens to be in putting together communication materials and speaking to people about sharks. My abilities fall under consciousness raising. My Competence helped bring Shark Rescue this far, and one way to improve my service leadership is to get more competence or enrol people who can add skills and expertise that are beyond what I know how to do. I’m always open to it!
 
Next, the second C of Character can help me rate my effectiveness. This isn’t about trying to be a saint or guru. Instead, it’s about feeding the qualities in what I do for Shark Rescue that build trust. For example, one way to enhance that trust can come from building stronger partnerships with groups in the field, or by taking ‘the fight’ even harder and stronger to the people actively killing sharks. Again, the Character side isn’t about being a saint, but about being the kind of person that others will trust.
 
The third C is Care. The mission and values behind Shark Rescue's activities are caring elements I have for our oceans, marine health, shark survival and humanity’s place in the biosphere. I care about a healthy world for me, my loved ones, the people in Hong Kong, and the people around the world I may never meet.
 
At any moment, in case I want to review, improve or detox my service leadership for Shark Rescue, I can explore my Competence, Character and Care to see where I can strengthen or improve.

 
► WHAT DO YOU REALLY CARE ABOUT? WHAT TOUCHES A DEEPER NEED INSIDE YOU? IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE OR WHAT IT MEANS FOR YOU, BUT TRY GETTING CLEAR ABOUT WHAT’S IMPORTANT AND HOW YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. WHAT’S STOPPING YOU FROM GETTING FULL-ON?

 
► SHARK RESCUE BEGAN WHEN I DECIDED TO GET FULL-ON ABOUT HELPING SHARKS. IT WASN’T MAGIC – IT WAS AN ATTITUDE. THINK ABOUT YOUR COMPETENCE, CHARACTER AND CARE AND HOW IT CAN COME TO HELPING THE PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR… GET FULL-ON!

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