I had a run-in with my former “me”
…but the point isn’t either to justify my own behaviour, blame someone else for it, or be unkind to myself regarding it. The point is to learn, integrate and see the situation as an opportunity.
That being said, I am given to analyse what happened at the meeting I chaired today. I had just been named as the new exec. director of an arts organization—which was great: warm welcome; glad you’re back in an executive position; (I’d served on the Board before); even, Whew! now we can get some things done, and regroup (!)—all fine and dandy, except that the previous person in charge also was in attendance. She used the opportunity to rant about why we could not get this done, and that done, last year, which I felt was inappropriate and unhelpful. I told her to calm down at one point, and I realized she has issues with letting go.
We have several new Board members this term, and while they are people who are grounded, and willing, and excited, they did look askance at this behaviour.
However, if I’m going to stay true to my current belief system (and I had a look at it again before writing this to be sure it’s still one I subscribe to) I have to put my philosophy where my mouth is. None of what I’m currently feeling (shell shocked, embarrassed, angry [actually, pissed off], and ineffectual) has anything to do with the person of whom I blog. It is, as all things are, completely my responsibility.
So. Now what do I do?
a) Complain about the person of interest; pointing out how nutty she sounds, and how she’s just on a power trip (OK, I ‘fess I’m doing a little of that here).
b) Ignore it and hope it gets better on its own (she might calm down after a while). or
c) First imagine, and then draft a plan about how I would like board meetings to go, and take responsibility for moving them along when they get sidetracked this way.
I know, looking back, that I could have prepared for this meeting better. Going into it somewhat flustered, and nervous, and—another confession—somewhat apathetic, just added to the confusion. I’m just looking at how I chose not to declare what I wanted from the meeting (either to myself or others) and therefore got back from it the rather scattered state of mind and negative emotion I brought along.
Here’s my plan:
Email all the participants (including the person of interest), thank them for their contributions to the success and future plans of our organization, remind each of the projects they agreed to take on during the meeting, and of the date they are expected to report on same, (including those tasks I agreed to myself), and begin to work on a very focused agenda for the next meeting.
Additionally, I choose to make a timeline (or flowchart, or something like that) with points of focus highlighted (First rehearsal, social events, concert dates) with lists of what needs to get done prior to each. (Newsletter, emails, publicity, management issues).
Here’s another important point: All of this, for me, must be FUN! (Well, realistically—in my current state—, 80% fun.) Otherwise, my mental energy will not be there, and I’ll just be going through the motions. If that’s so, than I’m in the wrong place.
As I write this, I do know I enjoy the org. and want to see it prosper. I must ask myself how I know this to be true.
—Is there a purpose to marketing such an organization to the community? Their pleasure? Edification? Community Spirit? What about to the participants/performers themselves? Why should they be involved? What motivates ME to be involved?
—What educational and enrichment opportunities can we bring to ourselves and our audiences? What makes us unique among similar organizations, and why?
And, finally, how willing am I to let the organization go away; disband; disintegrate; rather than forcing it into a mold it does not wish to be in? I believe that organizations are entities with their own distinct personalities. The personality of a particular endeavor will make itself known if we listen; if we really want to hear what it says. Many entities exist for hundreds of years, but do undergo cosmetic or radical surgery from time to time. Others live brief but intense lives, and leave us with a memory, having enhanced our experience. Most fall somewhere in between.
The organization I’m speaking of here has been around for many decades; not a hundred years, yet. Should it be? What sort of retooling would make that possible and enjoyable?
I must thank my colleague, the person of interest, for giving me the opportunity to explore these thoughts. I hope to become a better director for it. And thank you for reading. It helped me to type this, knowing that you might. 🙂
Have a good weekend, and I wish you choices close to your hearts.