By Lloyd Graff
Why should somebody work as a volunteer in an organization? My wife Risa and I discussed this topic last night as she was considering her last President’s message to the membership of the Association of Educational Therapists, a national professional organization she heads.
Risa has put her heart and soul into volunteering for this organization. She wants other people to follow in her footsteps. My basic orientation on other hand, has always been, “why should I spend my good time on some dumb organization?”
I have no tolerance for group meetings. They put me to sleep. I’ve never been part of an organization that interested me enough to get me to endure the endless prattle of group discussion. I know this sounds hopelessly arrogant, but I’ll admit to being a lousy member. And if you are a lousy member of a group, you will certainly be a terrible leader.
For me, one of the ugliest words in the English language is “committee.” To serve on a committee is to be sentenced to boredom. I may have a little ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), which educational therapists address in their work, because when somebody inquires if I’ll work on a committee for a charity or professional group, I run for the closest foxhole. To me a board meeting is a bored meeting.
Yet I realize that organizations like the Association of Educational Therapists, the Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA) and the National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) do good work and rely on the members input. That means groups, subgroups, and committees. As a member of these organizations I freeload on their efforts. I pay my dues and tune out when members laud other members for the many hours they put in.
I believe the world is divided between the people who like meetings and process and chitchat and sociableness, and the aliens who prefer to be alone or go one-on-one.
If I have the choice of a meeting or Siena vs. Towson State in basketball on ESPN, I’ll choose the engagement with the TV.
Question: If you do boards and committees, what do you get out of it?