This featured blog post originally appeared on YNPN Chicago's Blog and was written by YNPN Chicago board member Aaron House.
Serving on an ALL-VOLUNTEER board means something very different than serving on a traditional board. It means you’re accountable. It means you’re the workhorse. It means the big ideas you share during monthly discussions might just end up right back in your lap.
“That’s a wonderful suggestion… I’ll write that down as an action item for you this month.”
This is really what happens; they show up in the board meeting minutes in red- your name next to them.
The first time it happens you’re often not sure what to make of it.
“Um.. well, I was just saying that was something we should consider.”
“No no. We think it’s just a smashing great idea. Fan-Tas-Tic. We can’t wait to see what you put together to present next month”
“I’m sorry, to present?
And then it happens- you find yourself talking in italics. Not sure how to get out of it.
Wanting to say, “I’m really busy this month, I don’t have time to do all the prerequisite research required to pull this off, to put together a proper presentation, to make this idea into an actual, well actual reality. I was just talking about it in an abstract sense, as something our organization should do eventually, once we have some additional resources and capacity (maybe if you just keep talking and using board code words like “capacity” you’ll get out of it… you’re thinking of working the word “silo” into your next sentence). This isn’t something we want to have a false start with, you know, it’s something we want to do right from the get-go, I don’t want to be in a position where I’m, well, where we’re… taking on… challenge… board responsibility… um… mentality… Silo!”
You think this all through in your two-second pause, including the rebuttal.
“So you want somebody else to run with this one, huh? You think their time isn’t as valuable, do you? You think they should be your little worker bees, huh huh? You want to just come here and talk and talk and not have any responsibilities outside of the board room?”
You keep beating yourself up, including other random things that generally make you feel guilty; like that second hot dog you ate at lunch today (extra ketchup).
You hear the response in your head, it’s a bit silly and dramatic, but you don’t want to let your fellow board members think you aren’t up to the challenge. That maybe you’re just hear to round out an already pretty impressive resume, that you’re trying to skate by without doing any heavily lifting.
SO instead you say...
(read on at YNPN Chicago's Blog)
About the author: Aaron is a long time resident of Chicago, currently working as the Training Manager at the University of Chicago's central office URA (University Research Administration). He believes in the power of words and clear communication.