Since I started compiling a list of things to do in my 50th year I knew all along that a good portion of them had to make me uncomfortable in some way. Most of them, like Trapeze School and Downhill Skiing, make me physically uncomfortable. Some, however, just make me completely uncomfortable. I decided I would expose myself a bit more and volunteer somewhere scary. I have done a lot of volunteer work before. I thought about volunteering with the homeless, or with animals, but I pretty much work with a lot of the homeless crowd on Mondays at the library and I’m fairly comfortable with that. With the animals, I would most likely feel the need to adopt all of them and until I buy a place, we can’t have any more pets. I started to think about what I avoid (aside from olives, jumping and going fast). Then an opportunity arose and after thinking about it for a long time and talking with some good friends, I realized what I needed to do.
I have been volunteering already as the Publicity Director for the Overlander Ski Club for over a year. It started with “I’ll volunteer with publicity” and ended up with me on the Board of Directors as Publicity Director. I have enjoyed my time on the board a lot. I love the club, it provides access to one of my very favourite activities and I appreciate the work that goes into making the Stake Lake Ski Trails as successful as they are. When then President Alan Vyse announced he was stepping down a void was created in the room. A couple of my friends who are very involved in the club each started to nudge me, having long talks with me, and working very hard to convince me. I was, in the beginning, unconvinced.
The board is made up of a group of passionate skiers who all love different aspects of the club and the sport. They are all very talented, well spoken, hard working, and… very opinionated. This includes me, by the way. They are also very strong willed. That might include me as well. Besides a love of skiing, the thing they all have in common is a love for the club and a desire to see it be as strong as it can be. But they all see, and support different paths for arriving at that common goal. This is actually what makes them an excellent, yet slightly intimidating group of people.
Before I put my name forward I had to look long and hard at what my role would be. Eventually, I realized my job is to help the group focus and move toward the achievement of the shared goals of the club. Once I framed it like that it started to look more doable and less frightening. I kind of see it like being a boarder collie trying to herd a group of squirrels. I will most likely pay for that remark in the future although I’m pretty sure only one other board member and two staff members are likely to read this. I think I can bribe them all with cookies and coffee.
I consider this to be a scary thing, yet I know I am naturally good at it. Although I’ve avoided leadership roles for years, they always seem to find me anyway no matter how I try and avoid them. My mom told me once that one of my teachers in high school described me as a reluctant leader. People would want to follow me, which I wouldn’t like, so I would hide in the back of the room, and they would just go to the back and find me anyway. I guess it’s time to just own it and do it.
I put my name forward as President (and still keeping Publicity) and at the AGM everyone seemed to sit on their hands. Nobody ran against me. I did hear from Alan that in his memory there had never actually been an election with votes at the AGM because they were always so happy to have someone volunteer. I heard from some board members and the staff that they have my support and are excited about the new blood (like they can smell it????). Great, now I’m picturing hyenas ripping the flesh off my corpse. “What happened to your last president?” someone might ask. “We ate her! Aargh!” Active imagination alert, and now they’re sounding like pirate hyenas. I may not be able to look at the board members without laughing again!
Anyway, on February 15th I became the President of the Overlander Ski Club. Our first board meeting with me as President is in March. I may bake some cookies to sweeten their dispositions…. Oatmeal or chocolate chip?
Why was this crazy?
I’m an introvert and a reluctant leader. Trust me, this is crazy!
Would I do it again?
Let me get through the next year first!