And Another Thing

8 04 2015

I’m the kind of person who believes in actions, not just words.

I get involved with the stuff in my life. I believe it is only right to play hard, not just watch the action. After all, if it weren’t for those who lace up the cleats, don the helmets, and get banged up on the field, there’d be no game to watch.

Problem with volunteer groups, though, is that there are lots more cheerleaders than players. There’s often a very small group (sometimes a group of one) with the job title community organizer-carpool coordinator-busboy-cruise director-financial manager-welcome wagon-and another thing . . .

Yes, it is our fault – those of us who believe we should work for the privilege of membership (or are control-freak-megalomaniacs) – that we end up wearing more hats than our necks can support. We set ourselves up for an ever-growing workload by Doing The Work.  We’re committed and we’re good at what we do.

That’s great for the group, while it lasts. It is, however, very bad long-range planning to have so few hamsters in the wheel.  When we burn out – and it happens fast and hard – organizations that do not have a good spread of essential duties across the membership and willing and ready successors to key roles often find they’re scrambling to restart from a standstill.

I love the few groups to which I belong. I have allowed myself to be exhausted by having worn too many hats for too long, though.  I see, now, how unfair it was that I did not say “no” to a few more things along the way to this point. By having a few people do everything, it takes the pressure off the rest of the group, but it also robs folks of the opportunity to learn and grow by taking on responsibility and to feel good about actively contributing to the whole.

Should you volunteer to take on some responsibility in your circle?  Sure.

Should you take on one of those “other duties as required” roles?  NO!

Play on the team, but don’t feel you have to takes the snap from center, drop back, throw a perfect spiral downfield, make a great block, run a perfect slant, and catch the pass.  Division of labor and well defined roles make for much better games.

Let someone else catch the damn pass, once in a while.



One response

8 04 2015
Elaine Haag

Sometimes, trying to get volunteers or active participants is a lot like passing a hot potato or playing musical chairs…..the last one standing or the one that can hold onto the potato wins? loses? depending on how you look at the picture. I have always been of the mindset that to really be a part of the team, you need to play in some way, form or fashion. If not, then at least be the best cheerleader ever and we all need one of those.
Thank you for another good read, Paula.

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