As a board member, you recognize that your association has a constant stream of projects, programs, or structures that need to be established, changed or replaced. These longer-term issues are absolutely necessary for your organization to grow and succeed, but something is always standing in the way of making progress on these critical issues. So what’s stopping you and your fellow board members from engaging these needed activities? Typically, it’s either distractions or excuses.
The distractions – many of them recurring daily – are regrettably a regular part of our role as association leaders. Even on our best day, our volunteer role comes in a distant third behind our family responsibilities and our day-to-day professional lives. There’s little time to prep for board meetings, much less tackle pressing issues. But the solutions to getting these things off your plate are limited, and you didn’t necessarily cause these distractions.
But we have other reasons that we don’t get these improvements off the ground, and they’re internally created, not externally developed. I’m talking about excuses.
Our excuses for delaying what we know would be good for the association emanate from our fears. These fears can hold us back from making decisions, as well as cheating our association out of greater success. As such, I offer these “excuse busters” to help you break the barriers of excuses, and move on with developing your future.
EXCUSE # 1 – “It probably won’t work.” This excuse is derived from our fear of failure. Interestingly, the corollary to that statement is that “it probably will.” So what if the chances of the program succeeding are only estimated at 50%? Without giving it a shot, you have NO chance of success. If you can envision the benefit of your program, you have no choice but to go for it.
EXCUSE # 2 – “I don’t have time.” Actually, yes you do. Time is a commodity that you can control if you know how. Know that tackling these projects is not a non-stop linear function; it can be done in stages. For example, if you calculate that the strategic plan update will take 15 hours of effort, actually schedule one hour per day for a couple of weeks to get it done. Create that time frame as an “appointment” in your calendar program, and let your team know that you can’t be disturbed for that period. What you’ll discover is that you’ll reach a point of natural momentum, creating a positive motivation to reach the finish line.
EXCUSE # 3 – “What if the members don’t like it?” This excuse comes from our fear of rejection. If you’re considering a new project or program, it likely has merit and is a good idea to pursue. As a leader in your association, you have your finger on the pulse of the organization, so trust your instincts. But just in case you need some validation, float a “trial balloon” and see how members react. For example, you can put out a tweet or a Facebook post introducing the idea. It’s easy to see how people react, and how they comment. In addition, identify 5 key members in the association, and have a phone conversation about your idea. Chances are they’ll like it and wish for you to pursue it.
EXCUSE #4– “But we’ve always done it that way.” Change can be scary, and it’s especially difficult to overcome when our fellow board members are resistant to new ideas. While the board must work as a cohesive unit, if you really believe a change should be made, don’t be afraid to champion the idea. Rather than dwelling how many obstacles may stand in the way, think of it this way: What is the cost of not acting? Find common ground by proposing a task force to delve deeper into the issue and present this research back to the board for further discussion. Once the board has a shared understanding of the issue, this task force can develop recommendations to address it.
Getting new programs and projects off the ground can be daunting, and we tend to create excuses for not breaking the barrier of inaction. The longer the excuse, the less time we have to make the idea a reality. When we spend time compiling all the reasons why the idea won’t work, that’s time we don’t have to strategize ways to make it work. Put your fears to bed, and start succeeding now.
You’re out of excuses.